[Excerpt] In 2000, the Institute of Medicine's landmark report To Err Is Human launched the contemporary patient safety movement with its clarion call to the health care systems all over the globe to act to prevent the errors that kill over 100,000 patients a year and harm many thousands more in the United States alone. Ten years later, in 2010, the World Health Organization's (WHO) "Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice" was released, as was the Lancet Commission report "Health Professionals for a New Century: Transforming Education to Strengthen Health Systems in an Interdependent World." In fact, over the past decade or more, studies have documented that, far from improving, in countries such as the United States and Canada, there has been little progress in preventing patient deaths and harm. Original calculations such as those done by the Institute of Medicine in 2000 are now considered to have been dramatic underestimations of the harm done to patients in health care institutions around the world.
Although the complexity of today's high-tech health care systems is often used as a rationalization for the maintenance of the status quo, all these groundbreaking reports argue that team-based, or interprofessional, care is a key strategy to move our current underperforming health care systems toward a more safe, efficient, integrated, and cost-effective model. Contemporary health care institutions do indeed have a bewildering number of players. Despite this, the responsibility for ensuring that patients receive the right care at the right time from the right providers relies on a few basic principles:
- Practitioners need to understand they are part of a diverse team.
- Practitioners must communicate effectively with the patient and family, as well as with other members of their team.
- Practitioners need to know what other team members do to limit duplication and prevent gaps in care.
- Practitioners need to know how to work together to optimize care so that the patient journey from inpatient care to home care, or from primary care to the specialist clinic is experienced as seamless.
Since 2000, the eleven health professional programs at the University of Toronto and the forty-nine teaching hospitals associated with them have developed an Interprofessional Education and Care (IPE/C) program that begins in the first year of a health professional student's entry into his or her program, continues through various educational activities throughout their studies, and straddles the education/practice divide. Over the past decade, the university and teaching hospital partners have been engaged in the co-development and support of the IPE curriculum for learners. They are also investing in the development of faculty and the ongoing training of staff to support and model collaborative practice and team-based care. What we have come to think of as the "Toronto Model" is integrated across all sites and professions and includes classroom, simulation, and practice education.