• Tara Humphrey

Top Tips to Enable Collaboration in Primary Care

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

For those of you involved in health care, the need for collaborative working is increasing. With limited resources on all fronts, it simply doesn’t make sense for us all to be investing in identical or even similar activities to our neighbours.

However, with that being said, I’m sure you will agree that collaborative working at times can be extremely challenging.

  • Choosing the right partners;

  • Finding mutually agreeable times to meet;

  • Deciding on which area to focus upon;

  • Assigning roles;

  • Managing differing views and egos;

  • Responding to tight deadlines;

  • Constantly negotiating;

  • And building trust

These are just some of the hurdles which will need to be overcome.

Recently one of my projects called for us to collaborate with 5 other partners and I’m pleased to say that this resulted in us securing income in a competitive bidding process, and I attribute the following actions to our success.

Be clear on the reason to collaborate and be on the look out for opportunities

In our case, an externally funded bid provided the opportunity, and we knew a collaborative bid that mirrored the South East London Sustainability Transformation Plan footprint would be looked upon favourably. Also, we had been discussing collaborating for a while but were

struggling with a mechanism to enable this. Choosing to submit a proposal alone would

have created unnecessary competition and the duplication of effort.

A group facilitator is essential

We were very fortunate to have a member of the group step forward and take on the role of organising meetings and teleconferences, summarising actions and keeping the conversations moving forward.

No idea is a bad idea (within reason)

In the beginning, all ideas were thrown on the table for consideration. Then we created a

simple scoring matrix to see which ideas were aligned to our individual priorities and mutually agreeable. It was a very democratic approach and in this instance worked very well.

Be strict on time frames

Not everyone will be able to attend every meeting so the communication channels and process you are setting must be clear to enable everyone to have a say. Set a deadline for responses and stick to it to keep the project moving forward.

You can still have a local approach AND operate at scale

Just because you agree to work together, this doesn’t mean everybody has to do everything exactly the same.

As a STP footprint, we agreed our focus would be on mental health training, but in our local boroughs, we opted to implement slight variations on delivery and included different stakeholders to be involved based on the relationships in our individual networks. 

Alongside our overall strategic approach to concentrate on mental health, we are sharing the project governance, financial management, best practice and building positive working relationships which did not exist before.

I hope you found this advice useful, and we will keep you posted on how this project progresses.