The collaborative family healthcare model envisions seamless collaboration between psychosocial, biomedical, nursing, and other healthcare providers, and views patient, family, community, and provider systems as equal participants in the healthcare process.
This approach is a radical departure from conventional "diagnose and refer" models and is distinctly different from the usual managed care approaches. It recognizes that clinical events always occur at biological, psychological and social levels, and that patient, family, and community levels represent integrated elements of a single ecosystem.
By adding the essential ingredients of psychological and family care at the front end, and continuously throughout the healthcare process, and by coordinating and integrating the expertise of these and other healthcare professions, wasteful and repeated diagnostic procedures are minimized, as are costly sub-specialty referrals.
It is a profoundly ethical approach that conserves resources for all participants: patients and their families, clinical providers, administrative and financial entities.
As the 1992 presidential campaign moved into high gear, it became evident that major changes in healthcare delivery were imminent. The compartmentalized, fee-for-service system in place was cumbersome, inefficiently protective of privileged sectors of the healthcare profession, unable to respond to the complex needs of disadvantaged populations, and plagued with intolerable costs. Most new designs focused on cost control by limiting access and redesigning benefit packages.
In March of 1993, 15 colleagues from the fields of family medicine and family therapy met to develop a better healthcare paradigm. This model aimed to address pressing clinical and economic problems. The group considered this urgent question:
"No matter how financed, what should a thoroughly modern healthcare
delivery system look like at the clinical level?"
It was agreed that a truly contemporary system would thoroughly integrate the expertise of biomedical and psychosocial providers and include family and community as key elements in the practice model. This became their design goal.
Naming their vision the "collaborative family healthcare model,” they formed an organization to bring together those interested in this innovative approach. In July 1995, CFHA held its first national conference in Washington, D.C. It was well attended and received glowing reviews. The Collaborative Family Healthcare Coalition was up and running. We continue to grow and evolve and respond to the constantly shifting sand of healthcare delivery.