Working Together

Evolving strategies of working together


Collaboration implies that partners share the risks, resources and the challenges. That is entirely different than just getting together and networking. Some collaborations start out networking very quickly and then jump into collaboration, sharing a lot of risks and resources.



 Get the flu shotShared activities between primary care and public health
  • Communicable disease prevention and control,
  • Information sharing,
  • Running joint programs and services,
  • Referral and follow up,
  • Advice and consultation.

There are many activities that primary care and public health staff work on jointly in collaborations. Many activities can be directly related to the services aimed at provision of individual care. An example of a common joint activity is related to communicable disease prevention and control ­– tracking of sexually transmitted infections.

Another example is running joint programs and services such as immunization clinics. Patient referral and follow up activities as well as provision of advice and consultation is also commonly seen. Other patient programs and services can be aimed at harm reduction, addictions and mental health, outreach, as well as breastfeeding, and at risk youth.

At a broader population level, both partners can work on management and administrative activities, such as the management of shared information technology systems, scheduling of community clinics, strategic planning for programs and services, or preparation of community reports. 

Other common organizational level activities are information sharing, such as exchanging immunization status of patients, as well as resource tool development and sharing. An example is the creation and distribution of women`s wellness resources or distribution of tobacco cessation materials. 

In addition, primary care and public health can work together in collaborations on research projects and community initiatives or coalitions. From an educational perspective, these partners can also work together for joint education and training. Partners can also work together on guideline and policy development.

Unique Activities by Sector

Primary Care

  • Clinic Services,
  • Counselling.

Public Health

  • Coordination/linkage with other community partners,
  • Monitoring and inspecting.

IMG_BabyAlthough many activities are jointly conducted by primary care and public health providers, there are some activities that tend to be associated more with primary care or public health.

For example, primary care providers have expertise in the provision of clinical services including counselling, whereas, public health practitioners have expertise in coordination and linkages with community partners and have a particular role in monitoring and inspection, such as cold chain management of vaccines.

IMG_CheckFridgeIn some provinces, public health practitioners are involved in planning, surveillance, and research activities but not direct service delivery. They support local community/primary care professionals through sharing of their expertise and resources to support the development of local activities. Their roles are complementary and can involve collaboration.

The appropriate use of a mix of these complementary skills can lead to successful collaborations.

IMG_Vaccination_VanExamples of Typical Populations Served by Collaborations
  • Underserviced populations,
  • High needs,
  • Rural communities,
  • Ethnic groups,
  • Parents of young children,
  • Providers receiving education/ training,
  • Persons suffering with addictions,
  • Sex trade workers,
  • Street involved/ homeless.

There are many populations that can be served by primary care and public health collaborations. Populations that have been found to be commonly served include underserved populations, those with high needs, specific ethnic groups, and parents of young children. In addition, persons who are suffering from addictions, street involved or sex trade workers are also often addressed in collaborations.

Collaborations are often initiated to serve these populations because they present complex problems that require more time, as well as, more connections and referrals to other community services. They also require a range of different types of expertise which only a multidisciplinary team can provide.

Finally, staff working in collaborations can also be the population being served, for example, when they are the recipients of professional education or training.

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