A group from the European Working Party on Quality in Family Practice (EQuiP), working with over 20 European colleges of primary care, has assessed what, in their view, is needed to improve the quality of care at the interface between general practice and specialists. Experiences and ideas from a wide range of people were gathered through focused group discussions. From these it was clear that, for real improvement at the interface of care, changes are needed in the system of care and in the ways that doctors view their roles and their performance. All providers of care need to be able to see the care system from the patients' perspective if they are to help their patients make sense of and benefit from an increasingly complex system. This paper outlines the EQuiP recommendations on how cooperation between general practitioners and specialists might be improved. This includes strategic perspectives and both targets for improvement and methods for teaching, training and development that are all independent of country and health care system. The 10 targets for development identified by the group are: leadership, initial shared care approaches, task division, mutual guidelines, patient perspective, informatics, education, team building, quality monitoring systems, and cost effectiveness. Working towards these targets could provide an effective approach to improving the cooperation between the interfaces of care. Getting effective leadership is a necessary first step as implementation of such a strategy will involve significant change. Responsibility lies primarily with the medical profession.
- quality improvement
- primary health care
- specialist health care
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