Integrated care, a challenge for health managers

Around 75% of healthcare spending in Europe is allocated to managing and treating chronic diseases (Cohen, S. B., 2014). Chronic diseases represent a challenge for healthcare systems as several healthcare providers are involved in the care of the patient, ranging from general practitioners and nurses to hospitals, home care services and pharmacies. Patients suffering from chronic conditions face great difficulties if there is no coordination of the different care plans, and sometimes the same lack of coordination can cause direct harm, such as if medication is prescribed by different doctors without due consideration of potential interactions.

The integration of healthcare services, from primary care to rehabilitation, putting the patient and their needs at the centre, has become a key strategy to overcome these difficulties. The aim of integrated care is to provide higher quality care, resulting in better health outcomes for the patient, and better patient experience of the care journey, potentially at a lower cost. However, several complicating factors can make integrated care difficult to implement in practice. Inadequate information sharing – often due to limited IT infrastructure and connectivity; inadequate time and human resources to launch new programs; and confusion over ‘who is in charge of the patient’ are some of the challenges faced by leaders trying to integrate care across programs and organisations (Baker et al, 2016).

What can health managers do to navigate the challenges of integrated care? Are strong leadership, health system expertise, and investments sufficient for building collaboration and integration throughout the health system?

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References:

Allvin, T., (2020) Barriers to Integrated Care and How to Overcome Them. [online] Available at: https://www.efpia.eu/news-events/the-efpia-view/blog-articles/241116-barriers-to-integrated-care-and-how-to-overcome-them/ (Accessed: 7 August 2020)

Baker, G.R., Steele Gray, C., Shaw, J., Denis, J.-L., Breton, M. and Carswell, P., (2016). Navigating the Challenges of Building Integrated Care Models: Findings from the iCoach Project. International Journal of Integrated Care, 16(6), p.A375. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.2923

Cohen, S. B., (2014) Differentials in the Concentration of Health Expenditures across Population Subgroups. [online] Available at: https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/st448/stat448.shtml (Accessed: 7 August 2020)

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