Primary Care Innovation Support Unit takes on team-based care

The Department of Family Practice’s Primary Care Innovation Support Unit (ISU) was launched in 2018, thanks to the Faculty of Medicine’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).

The goal of the ISU is to collaborate with groups in B.C. who are creating primary care innovations. Much of the unit’s work in its first 10 months has been to look at ways of supporting the changes proposed to support team-based care initiatives. It is also beginning to act as a provincial resource to mobilize knowledge and support the integration of applied research.

Team Based Care

The patient-centred circle of care model.

Morgan Price, who is based at the Island Medical Program and interim co-head, Department of Family Practice, is the unit’s lead.

“That morphed into the Innovation Support Unit as a hub within our department,” he says. “It allows us to engage different groups across the province that are trying to improve primary care, and look at ways that we could uniquely support them.”

The ISU began with three core areas of interest: teaching, evaluating and creating new methods that support communities in making changes, including team-mapping workshops.

The workshops are a key component of the ISU’s efforts. As part of the team-mapping process, multi-disciplinary groups work together through simulated patients personas, or cases, to map out a patient-centred ‘circle of care’ model. These models are then used to inform team-based care planning in the community.

“On a very large four-foot by four-foot laminated circle, groups use Post-it notes to draw out the circle of care for a simulated patient case,” says Price. “Through that work, a great conversation happens at the table. People start to understand how different roles in primary care can work together. They learn how a family doctor, a pharmacist, a nurse practitioner, and a social worker all support the patient.”

After workshop participants cover a series of cases across numerous scenarios, they receive a report with synthesized information for practical use and reference to use in their planning.

Moving forward, the ISU is working with the Ministry of Health to spread the workshops throughout B.C. as primary care providers transition into new models of practice.

“It’s been an honour to sit down and talk with the assistant deputy ministers and the associate deputy minister of health around team-based care and see how we as an academic group can support them,” Price says. “We thought we’d be working with a few additional communities in the first year, but given the huge change that’s happening in team-based care right now, we’ve been able to support communities from many levels.”

While the ISU is currently focusing on team-based care, Price and Sarah Fletcher, Research Manager of the ISU, envision the unit evolving to address the changing needs of primary care communities in B.C.

“Right now our focus is team-based care, but the overall purpose of the ISU allows us to shift focus based on needs identified in the primary care community over time,” Fletcher says.

The SIF, which amounts to $2 million per year, has been a successful catalyst for several innovations, including the ISU. The fund was created to advance the objectives outlined in the Faculty’s strategic plan, Building the Future, and was made possible through the Faculty’s collective efforts to achieve a balanced and sustainable budget.

“We couldn’t have started this initiative within our department without SIF funding,” Price says.

The deadline to apply for the next round of SIF funding is February 28, 2019. To learn more, visit the Strategic Investment Fund pages on MedNet.