Studies have identified a number of conditions that affect collaborative action with external organisations. 188,189 These are:
- necessity to work together
- opportunities to gain support from the wider community or to build on existing policy initiatives
- capacity of those involved to take action (commitment, knowledge, skills)
- strong relationships between participants
- well planned action
- provide for sustained outcomes.
The advantage of collaborations is that each partner may contribute what they do best to deliver a better result, with less effort, for a particular group of patients. Factors important in the development of collaboration include:
- adequate expertise, motivation, support and resources
- sharing of planning and responsibility with clear roles and tasks
- decision making, problem solving and goal setting
- open communication, cooperation and coordination
- recognition and acceptance of separate and combined areas of activity.
It is vital to be specific about what your practice can contribute, bearing in mind that the role may vary with different patients. How all the relevant partners work together is crucial in successful collaborations. Once you have identified the issue and the target group have identified likely partners, consider the following:
- Are these potential partners interested in collaborating?
- What are the likely benefits in building links with these partners?
- Are there any existing relevant activities or interventions you could build on?
- You might wish to discuss this with the practice team before the first meeting with potential partners.