Integrated care is a fundamental component of much-needed health and social care system reforms and will be central to addressing the challenges of population ageing and the fact that increasingly patients will suffer from not just one health problem, but several.
It is also at the heart of moves to get a better understanding of value in healthcare.
A report by the EU expert group on healthcare systems performance assessment looks at the design principles, building blocks and incentives that will enable health and social care systems to change from being linear and specialism-driven, to organisations where care is integrated around the needs of individual patients.
At the same time, the report considers how to assess the performance of integrated care models to measure the added value of integration, promoting further implementation and informing spending and resource allocation.
From the report: “Demographic changes have resulted in people living longer but also in the broad diffusion of chronic long-standing illnesses. As a consequence, a rising number of people with complex care needs require the development of care delivery systems that bring together a range of professionals and skills from the healthcare, long-term and social care sectors. The former helps them to overcome difficulties stemming from their health status deterioration. The latter continue to provide assistance when they get better and their condition is not acute but their ability to function independently is limited.
Failure to better integrate or coordinate services from these sectors may result in suboptimal outcomes. It not only entails a missed opportunity to bring together the best possible outcomes of cure and care activities but it also means that limited resources may be wasted, including human and financial resources.”