According to Freeth, Hammick, Reeves, Koppel & Barr (2005, cited in Learning and teaching for inter-professional practice Australia, 2009, p. 6), inter-professional practice is a term used to imply the condition where two or more professionals work together for a common purpose, commitment and mutual respect. Across the whole world, health systems are receiving both challenges and opportunity as a result of impacts of the population growth, technological advancement and intergenerational changes. There is an increasing demand to change the traditional models of health care in order to cater for the various needs.
These needs range from the workforce to patients’ needs which are changing. Increasingly, healthcare in various places has become an issue not only for quality healthcare professionals, but also the management of these services has proved important and necessary. In addition, with the increase in diversity of the healthcare service provision e.g. the home care for the elderly, the role of the patient in ensuring that the whole framework is of good quality cannot be ignored.
Furthermore, the customer may be tied between options of paying healthcare, either through public healthcare or private plans, and this will have a direct impact on the funds available for management of the whole system. There is therefore the need to understand the importance of contribution of various stakeholders including the professionals, the government, various health and human service agencies, and the consumer, in providing the necessary framework to deliver quality health services.
The Interprofessional practice (IPP) has been proposed in order to avail health services that are more patient centered, more sustainable, more effective and more safer. The Learning and Teaching for Interpersonal Practice, Australia (L-TIPP, Aus) has been applied to give graduates who can work in teams and across disciplines and sector boundaries. This type of workforce will be able to face the challenges provided at the workplace by the current developments. Team work will improve the working environment for the healthcare provider by letting the providers understand their roles, improving on job satisfaction (McNair, 2005; cited in Learning and Teaching for Interpersonal Practice, 2009; 9), and establishing a relationship between the members of the team.
The Role of the Government
The Australian government provides funds to public hospitals, home and community care for the aged and residential aged care facilities. Besides, health research funds are provided by the government in addition to funding training for professionals. The role of the government in ensuring the provision of quality health care services can be contemplated in the fact that it is responsible for budgeting of public health expenditure.
As such, low budgetary allocations in developing countries for example have been blamed among other reasons leading to poor health care services (Singh, n.d.). In addition, the role of the government is to manage the healthcare system to ensure that there are enough resources and well distributed to cater for the populations. Management of the healthcare payment is the role of the government and it should be applied to ensure that the populations have an access to cheap healthcare plans through public and private sectors.
The government can ensure that the public and the private plans are affordable to the citizens, for example through formulation of necessary policies that will wipe out discrimination in terms of pay or the employers taking advantage of the employees. It is the role of the government to ensure that the healthcare plans are delivering quality services and to avail the necessary structures and capability, for example, finances to do so. Ensuring that there is efficient delivery of services in the whole healthcare system is the work of the government. The government should make sure that there is no under-staffing of employees in the healthcare facilities, ensuring that these professionals are paid well, availing proper working conditions for the staff and educating the public on the need for sourcing healthcare plans and available options.
The government is also responsible for the educational and training needs of the health care professionals to equip them with the necessary skills to avail quality services. Management of the healthcare services will also include seeing to it that qualified professionals are the ones being used to avail health services. The healthcare plan in Australia has been criticized for managing two health systems (through the state and federal governments) and therefore running a system that is not joined up. Healthcare managers have been blamed for playing the game of cost shifting because the public servants, the government, politicians, media and the patients do misunderstand Medicare.
The patients’ ability to pay is not clearly and fairly taken into consideration in the financial contribution of patients in the Australian healthcare. Even in the public available information, the information is rarely quantified though reports on out-of-pocket costs for healthcare are published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Health Insurance Commission. The managers in the healthcare system must see to it that these issues are solved so as to ensure that the quality of healthcare system is not compromised or is kept to standard.
Role of the Healthcare Professionals
The health care system in Australia demands a workforce that is able to excel in the face of many challenges facing the healthcare system in this country, which have been brought forward. These include focus on the prevention of chronic diseases, changing public health priorities, changing disease profiles, and changing technologies which have an impact directly to the healthcare system including the efficiency and quality of the services provided. Health care professionals are responsible for provision of quality services. Guiding this is the principle of being ethical. Professionals must, in addition to professional training, be taught how to handle health issues in an ethical manner.
In the face of the shortage of healthcare professionals in Australia, the healthcare professionals’ hard work can save a lot of patients from going untreated and even dying. The healthcare system in Australia has been indicated to suffer from shortage of medical professionals who retire in the baby boomer generation, doctors in rural areas, and specialists in hospitals. Under these conditions, it is possible that through hard work, health care professionals can save the nation a great deal through improved or high efficiency of service. The importance of creativity in the healthcare sector has been documented (Pagan, Cunningham & Higgs, 2008). The ageing of the workforce in the Australian healthcare sector has also caused concern (Leonie $ Bolton, 2009).
Contribution of Customers and Non-governmental Bodies
Customers in this perspective mean the populace, those who can seek medical services any time. The fact that patients have a stake in the quality of healthcare system can be contemplated in that they have the decision to make on the alternatives available while choosing medical care and this determines how such plans succeed. In addition, the population masses have an important say in the selection of the government and the leaders who would come up with effective healthcare services.
Members of the public can negotiate their deal or express an outrage for ineffective healthcare services. Members of public are a times exploited by the providers of healthcare services such as insurance because of ignorance and the implications in some of these arrangements. The impact of the members of population in affecting the quality of a healthcare system can be felt where there are more than one alternative to healthcare payment plans. In this case, the members of the public will be responsible for providing the cash required for the success of the plans. Availability of such funds will make work easier for the planners, whereas lack of these funds may make the system to collapse.
In addition, on management perspective, more money available may translate to better quality of healthcare services because more money will be available to buy the equipments/better ones. Professionals known as the consumer advocates play a very important role in ensuring patients and their families, and also other members of the public get quality services or that the system is improved. The consumer advocates are employed by the not-to-profit organizations and can perform the role of ensuring improved healthcare services in the system through a number of ways. These include passing important rules that will put hospitals in toes to particular commitments such as reporting the infection rate.
This can help in the making of very important decisions in guiding the healthcare system. Consumer advocates can champion for proper planning of the healthcare such as “discharge planning”. The latter can help determine whether a patient receive quality care (National partnership for women & families, n.d.).
Learning and Teaching for Interpersonal Practice. (2009). Interprofessional health education in Australia: The way forward. Web.
Leonie Segal and Bolton Tom. (2009). Issues facing the future health care workforce: the importance of demand modeling. Aust New Zealand Health Policy. 6: 12. Web.
McNair, R. (2005). Breaking down the silos: interprofessional education and interprofessionalism for an effective rural health care workforce. Web.
National partnership for women & families. Patients and families have an important role in improving health care quality. Web.
Pagan, Janet D. and Cunningham, Stuart D. and Higgs, Peter L. (2008) Getting Creative in Healthcare: The contribution of creative activities to Australian healthcare. Technical Report, Creative Industries, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. Web.
Singh Poonam. (2009). Effective Health Care: The role of government, market and civil society. Regional Health Forum. Web.