Why we must build bridges to achieve our highest goals

Edwin Kruys

19/10/2018 10:18:24 AM

Dr Edwin Kruys writes about the BridgeBuilders project, which aims to boost collaboration in healthcare.

BridgeBuilders is described as an effort to encourage people in healthcare to to reach out and cross organisational boundaries.
BridgeBuilders is described as an effort to encourage people in healthcare to to reach out and cross organisational boundaries.

I have just returned from the RACGP’s annual conference – GP18 – on the Gold Coast.
The conference is always a showcase of all the great things my wonderful GP colleagues and their teams have to offer. But, at the same time, I noticed a palpable unease about the future.

Where are we going as a profession? Who is going to fix what needs to be fixed? Will there be appropriate funding?
You could argue that uncertainty is a key component of what we do every day as GPs, but I think we could be more effective in making positive change happen.
As a profession, general practice is just as fragmented as our wider healthcare system. We are divided into too many groups and we communicate too little.
In the end, we all want to provide the best care for our patients – but our peak bodies and primary care organisations all want to achieve this goal a little bit differently.
It is for this reason that I and other like-minded colleagues founded BridgeBuilders, a project aimed at boosting collaboration in healthcare. Essentially, it is an effort to encourage everyone, especially those in leadership positions, to reach out and cross organisational boundaries.
This doesn’t have to mean high-level meetings. It can be as simple as having a coffee together.
Because if we focus on outcomes without investing in relationships, there is a good chance that we don’t get the desired results. Building trust and creating positive relationships are key components of effective collaboration.
Boosting collaboration at all levels in healthcare has the potential to unlock new possibilities through synergistic partnerships and networks. Collaboration between health groups may also help to tackle the complex challenges our healthcare systems are facing today and in the future.
BridgeBuilders now has a blog and a podcast, focused on finding common ground and shared values and goals, while at the same time acknowledging our diversity – it’s about the inspiring causes that get us out of bed in the morning.
Through these outlets, other healthcare professionals and consumers can share their thoughts and ideas, in public and on the record, about how they would like to interact and engage with each other.
Some of the guests that have appeared on the podcast so far:

  • Dr Tim Koh, immediate past RACGP Chair of Board, who talked about his experiences over the past four years and building bridges with members
  • Dr Ewen McPhee, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) President-elect, who shared his thoughts on collaboration and rural generalism
  • Shane Jackson, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, who gave his perspective on collaborative models of care
Our blog features contributions from many GP colleagues, as well as pharmacists, nurses, consumers and policy advisors.
Collaboration is not always easy. The philosophy of BridgeBuilders is that the process starts with a conversation. If we take the time to sit down together we may discover that, even if we don’t always agree on everything, what we have in common usually exceeds what sets us apart.
My colleague and co-founder of BridgeBuilders, Dr Jaspreet Saini, said it well.
‘BridgeBuilders assumes that there is always a better way and, through strategic conversation and a willingness to work together, we might discover it.’ 
If we want something we’ve never had, then we’ve got to do something we’ve never done – or don’t do enough.
BridgeBuilders has no political agenda or affiliations with any organisations or groups, has no commercial interests and receives no funding or sponsorship.

BridgeBuilders professional collaboration

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