Case Synopsis

Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO) prepares to implement screening for critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) in all newborns born in Ontario. Janet Marcadier, a genetic counsellor at NSO, recognizes the particular challenges of implementing a point-of-care newborn screening test that will be performed by submitters (nurses, midwives) across the province. The other 29 conditions screened for by NSO do not involve a point-of-care test but rather testing is done in the NSO laboratory. While standardization for a provincial program is important, there are many contextual factors that will impact CCHD screening implementation at each specific birth site. Interdisciplinary collaboration among health care providers will be essential in implementation. How could NSO foster interdisciplinary collaboration through implementation planning? NSO needs to consider how primary care teams are often dynamic and include different health care providers depending on the needs of the patient. Would interdisciplinary collaboration help to ensure screening compliance among submitters? By applying concepts of implementation research, context-specific protocols can be developed for interdisciplinary teams at different birth sites in Ontario.

Case Objectives

  1. Develop a context-specific implementation plan for CCHD newborn screening.
  2. Identify contextual factors that can impact interdisciplinary collaboration.
  3. Apply implementation research strategies to inform implementation planning for evidence-based CCHD screening and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.
  4. Understand the usability of the interdisciplinary collaboration framework when planning, implementing, and evaluating a newborn screening program in Ontario.
  5. Discuss roles and responsibilities of health care providers in the interdisciplinary model for CCHD screening.

Case Study Questions

  1. How did your team define “interdisciplinary collaboration”?
    a. Was it difficult to come to a consensus?
  2. Do you think interdisciplinary collaboration has a role in the future of public health?
    a. If yes, do you think training of health care providers should be changed and what changes should be made?
  3. How did your team incorporate implementation research into planning?
  4. What were the three implementation outcome variables that your team identified to be most important in implementation? Provide details about one of the three implementation outcome variables.
  5. Should provincial newborn screening plans be designed for many different contexts or should NSO take a standardized approach to implement CCHD screening?
  6. From your team’s particular context, is provincial newborn screening for CCHD an equitable health intervention?


newborn health, screening, interdisciplinary, collaboration, implementation research

Additional Author Information

Emily Wood, BMSc, MPH

Jennifer Milburn, BSc, MHA, Operations Director

Ava John-Baptiste, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Wood, E., Milburn, J., John-Baptiste, A. (2017). United Hearts: Fostering Interdisciplinary Collaboration for the Detection of Critical Heart Defects in Newborns. in: John-Baptiste, A. & McKinley, G. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2017. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.