Numerous recommendations on the initial evaluation and treatment of the head injured patient have been proposed over the last several years. Most assume there is readily available access to computed tomography and neurosurgical specialists. Many clinicians in Alaska must evaluate and begin treatment of head injured patients in circumstances quite different from this. Vast distances, severe weather and limited medical evacuation capability are factors that come into play while caring for these patients. The current medicolegal climate also contributes to clinician anxiety over missing rare but potentially serious injuries. These guidelines developed by Alaska clinicians from multiple specialties are meant to assist clinicians dealing with this very common problem and represent a reasonable approach to these patients in remote and rural Alaska.
Over the post decade, provincial governments have embarked on ambitious plans to better integrate their healthcare systems, through the introduction of regional governance and management structures. The objective of this study was to examine physicians' perceptions of the current level and facilitators/barriers to integration in three Western Canada Health Regions. Three approaches to integration were investigated: functional, clinical services, and physician system integration. Physicians perceived that functional integration within each region was questionable. Clinical services were the least integrated approach. Physician system integration was rated highest of the approaches, particularly adherence to clinical practice guidelines usage. Physicians' perspectives of integrated health delivery systems do not appear to be influenced by regional size, maturity, urbanicity or facilities. Facilitators of integration were communication among health professionals and service providers, and using a multi-disciplinary team approach in delivery of healthcare in both regions. Barriers to integration were organizational culture, access to specialists and clinical services, and health information records. On a scale of 1-5, all three regions are at the beginning of an integrated health delivery system. Three global suggestions were provided to further integration of health delivery services: physicians should be involved in decision-making process at the Board level, clinical services should be patient-centred, and physicians endorsed the use of multi-disciplinary teams.