Working relationships: The process of sharing care between GPs, allied health practitioners, and medical specialists in chronic disease management.

Project Status

Project Coordinator
Mark Harris, Nick Zwar, David Perkins, Gawaine Powell Davies

Associate Investigators
Joyce Chong

Other Team Members
Sue Kirby, Maureen Frances


Areas for improvement highlighted include communication in the process of sharing care, improving the quality of referral information, increasing the role of practice staff in sharing care, and increasing the ease of use of Medicare items.

Implications for policy, delivery or practice: The findings have practical implications in enhancing shared care between GPs, allied health practitioners, and medical specialists. We are currently running a study focusing on these areas in sharing care, with the aim of examining the impact on working relationships in sharing care as well as patient health outcomes.


To explore perceptions of GPs, allied health practitioners, and medical specialists regarding sharing care of patients with Type 2 diabetes and/or Ischaemic Heart Disease/hypertension

Design and Method

Sixteen health care professionals were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format on:
• Patient characteristics and referral service factors influencing GP referral decisions
• Satisfaction with the content and timeliness of referral and reply letters
• Using MBS care plans, Team Care Arrangements
• Practice capacity in facilitating sharing care
• What builds good working relationships in sharing care
Main findings:
• Patient knowledge, motivation, and expectation influenced GP referral decisions.
• Referral service factors such as access and private vs. public service affected referral decisions.
• Health professionals reported that lack of information in GP referral letters affects their ability to assess and treat patients.
Mixed clinician reactions to Medicare items included:
• “provide valuable information about patients’ healthcare team”
• “more of a process than genuinely sharing care”.
• Scope for practice staff to play a role in sharing care.
• All healthcare professionals recognise that communication, though difficult to achieve, is vital for good working relationships.

Key Publications

MJA in press