We are pleased to share the following literature review exploring current research on interprofessional Family Health Teams (FHTs) across Ontario. This review collects and analyzes existing evidence on the initial improvements to primary healthcare access, patient outcomes and reduction of system costs.
Authors: Sophia Gocan, RN, MScN; Mary Ann Laplante, RN, BScN; & A. Kirsten Woodend, RN, BScN, PhD
Background: In Ontario, 200 interprofessional Family Health Teams (FHTs) have been established since 2005 to improve primary healthcare access, patient outcomes, and costs. High levels of interprofessional collaboration are important for team success; however, effective team functioning is difficult to achieve. FHTs are in their infancy, and little is known about the determinants that have influenced the quality of team collaboration or the outcomes that FHTs have achieved. The objective of this article is to examine current knowledge regarding FHT team functioning.
Methods and Findings: A search of the literature resulted in eleven articles for final analysis, which were primarily qualitative in nature. A narrative synthesis of study findings was completed. A number of common challenges to interprofessional collaboration were identified. Nevertheless, patients and providers described improved healthcare access, greater satisfaction, and enhanced quality of healthcare using a FHT approach. Collaboration was fostered by effective leadership, communication, outcome evaluation, and training for both professionals and patients alike.
Conclusions: Ontario FHTs have generated improvements in healthcare access and outcomes. Collaborative team functioning, while present, has not reached its full potential. Supportive public policy, education for patients and providers, and evaluation research is needed to advance FHT functioning.