How these 2 pharmacy students are improving interprofessional collaboration

Pharmacy students are the future of the profession. And for some pharmacy students, that future is now. That’s why I have dedicated a blog series, Student Sit-down, to showcase pharmacy student-led projects that are improving the pharmacy profession, the healthcare system, and more!

Introducing the first ever Student Sit-down with Travis Orange and Chase Richer from UBC. Their project is aimed to improve interprofessional collaboration between the healthcare professions, starting with students of different faculties!

Although we have all participated in teams, the culture of healthcare has long been that of solo acts. However, interprofessional collaboration is a key strategy for improving the healthcare system. Interprofessional collaboration is defined by WHO as “when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.”

Interprofessional collaboration has been shown to improve patient outcomes such as reducing preventable adverse drug reactions, decreasing morbidity and mortality rates, and optimizing medication doses. Collaboration is also beneficial to healthcare professionals themselves, and has shown to reduce extra work and increase job satisfaction.

Unfortunately, interprofessional collaboration is the exception, not the rule. However, there has been a shift in our education, with the incorporation of interprofessional-based learning activities. Research has shown that students who participate in an introductory interprofessional education course early in their professional education improve and keep positive attitudes towards interprofessional collaboration. That is why Travis and Chase have focused on a project to improve interprofessional collaboration on a student level, by facilitating communication between students of different healthcare faculties.

With that, I sat down with Travis and Chase to find out more about their project. Here’s what they had to say.

To start off, give us a brief introduction to yourselves.

Co-Founders Travis Orange (left) and Chase Richer (right)

My name is Travis Orange, BSc, TESL, Doctor of Pharmacy (candidate 2020) and I am the current COO of Humble Clinics and Co-Founder of the Pharmacy Business Club. I am passionate about innovation in science, education and healthcare.

My name is Chase T. Richer, BSc, Doctor of Pharmacy (candidate 2020) and I have had many leadership and advocacy roles. Recently, I was part of a team presentation advocating for Certified Pharmacist Prescribing at the College of Pharmacists’ Board Meeting.

How did you get to working with each other?

We started working together this year (in 3rd year pharmacy) in an elective called LEAP (Leadership Experience Applied to Pharmacy). We were tasked to plan a project that inspired us. Having known each other for many years working together just seemed like a no-brainer. Being 3rd year students, and advocates for pharmacy, we have had an eagerness to focus on solutions to healthcare issues for some time. Working together to help solve problems with interprofessional collaboration was something we didn’t want to pass up.

What is DebataHealth?

Homepage of DebataHealth

DebataHealth is an online platform (website/forum) that focuses on student-to-student communication between all healthcare disciplines. It aims to demystify healthcare professions, increase access to pertinent resources and overall facilitate collaboration.

We hope that DebataHealth will help eliminate current barriers of communication between health profession students. Our goal is to utilize a collaborative approach to facilitate increased interprofessional communication and to present opportunities for collaborative events.

We are continually piloting/testing tools (event calendar, collaborative opportunities, etc) within the DebataHealth website to enhance and refine the interprofessional, collaborative student experience.

What inspired you to create DebataHealth?

Although our Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program has shifted towards more student collaboration we still feel like there is a real disconnect between health disciplines as a student and in practice. Currently there are no online communication platforms connecting healthcare students. Most healthcare professionals we have talked to believe collaborative practice is the way of the future and leads to better patient outcomes. We wanted to see what we could catalyze as students with a website that offers plenty of opportunities for collaboration: an interactive forum, a calendar to post events and a centralized list of professional healthcare student clubs with their current/future collaborative opportunities.

You mention a disconnect between health disciplines. Do you have any examples from your experience that highlight the need for better interprofessional collaboration?

As students, we have not experienced a lot of the “need” for collaboration first-hand in practice but we have often heard of the consequences with a lack of. Even as students, however, we have noticed a certain lack of interprofessional collaborative opportunities.

Interprofessional collaboration leads to better continuity of care. This means less errors, a better patient experience, and likely better patient outcomes. We believe this is especially important for complex patients who require extensive monitoring. For example, patients with chronic pain, cancer, HIV, substance abuse, etc.

Have you had positive experience with collaborative practice?

As students we have had limited opportunities to fully experience collaborative practice. In our community rotations we regularly spoke with physicians on the phone and in person – and the relationship was mutually symbiotic – but we rarely interacted with any other health professionals.

During our hospital rotations as pharmacy students, we regularly attended patient rounds and contributed to medication management. During these discussions, each profession (nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physicians) had a vital role and all contributed effectively to synergistically enhancing patient care.

Who is the intended audience of DebataHealth?

DebataHealth is for students from all professional healthcare disciplines. We have started by reaching out to students in UBC but are open to students from any and all universities utilizing this platform. If you go to school outside of UBC, just send us a message and we will accommodate!

DebataHealth’s Interprofessional Healthcare forum page

Who is collaborating in the development of the DebataHealth platform?

DebataHealth aims to collaborate with students of all UBC professional healthcare disciplines including, but not limited to, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, and Dietetics.

The DebataHealth team is currently reaching out to the student leaders of all UBC professional healthcare disciplines to refine the DebataHealth website into a product suitable for all professional healthcare students.

Hopefully we will have a long-term student representatives from all healthcare disciplines contributing soon!

What are your plans for this project in the future? Is there anything we fellow students can do to contribute to DebataHealth?

As we continue to collect data we should be able to determine the viability of our website. Of course we hope other students will continue to see the value in an opportunity to interact and problem solve with other students with shared values/goals but only time will tell. Ideally, we would like to see students from all healthcare disciplines contributing and managing the site on a day-to-day basis. From there, who knows. Maybe one day DebataHealth will be hosting conferences and also be a platform for practicing healthcare professionals!

For anyone looking to learn, communicate and collaborate simply register an account on our website and fill out any appropriate forms (for website feedback or adding your club information). We’d love to hear from you and are always open to having more members on the team that want to contribute!

Take DebataHealth’s website development survey here

Well thanks for joining me Travis and Chase! Best of luck with DebataHealth.

Thank you so much for the support and the opportunity to share our story, Miriam!

If you’re a pharmacy student with a project or story you’d like to share, drop me an email and I’d love to get in touch with you!

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