With our focus on providing a secure web platform that older people and their different care professionals could use
to work together on assessing, planning and tracking care needs, we have taken a great interest in integrated care discussions and practices.
Integrated care like many other elements of health care is evolving at a rate; with a view to improving general levels of health and wellness in society. A view endorsed by the World Health Organisation in its definition; “….Integration is a means to improve services in relation to access, quality, user satisfaction and efficiency….”
This evolution requires not only management skills but also leadership skills as the scope and aims of integrated care expand.
Integrated Care 1.0 - Horizontal or Vertical
- A horizontal direction, where healthcare providers at the same level, particularly at a primary or secondary care level; collaborate in service provision
- A vertical direction, where healthcare providers at different levels from primary, secondary to tertiary levels collaborate in service provision
- This type of integration can vary from coordinating delivery of services up to and including joint managing of budgets and spends
"...There is no single model of integrated care that is suited to all contexts, settings and circumstances...(co-operation is needed) to develop, evaluate and implement effective approaches...."
Bringing social care and wellness into Integrated Care
- The inclusion of a social care/wellness perspective is important as a person’s socio economic background has a huge influence on their current and future health and lifestyle.
- When rehabilitating from a serious illness or event such as a fall, a person’s social background and lifestyle can have a bearing on the quality of rehabilitation and the probability of re-admission back into (secondary) healthcare system
- With the recent thinking in Integrated Care, a greater focus is being put on early intervention and preventive measures which requires social care thinking as much as healthcare thinking
- The other interesting development with v2.0 is the involvement of other services such as Fire Service, Police and Community based volunteer care services – all of whom in addition to health and social care provide context and background on a person’s current and future health and wellness needs
The future of Integrated Care?
Given the variety of determinants on a local population’s health, this will be a big challenge – as these factors span sectors such as employment, housing, income levels and access to healthcare. With a positive focus on managing these determinants, the objective is to have a proactive approach to improving a local population’s health and wellness.
I think this quote from a recent blog post by David Buck from the Kings Fund provides an apt direction for Integrated Care
“….. the health and social care system needs to be better integrated with other public services and the communities they serve...."
From our perspective at Assesspatients, the evolving scope of integrated care demonstrates the importance of multidisciplinary care assessment(s), shared outcome planning, access to metrics on care quality and experience and an ability to securely circulate care information between the many systems so that information can be effectively used to improve each local population’s health and wellness.
Let me finish with our initial point - the importance of leadership rather than management - to enable integrated care happen for the benefit of a local population's health; we welcome your comments and your own experiences on this topic.