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By Debbie le Quesne

Integrated health: Confused, or what?

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The online Healthcare Professional feature in today’s Guardian is worth a read.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, makes some interesting observations about social care integration – the i-word.

And I agree with him, it is the latest industry buzzword. What he attempts to do is clearly define what, or whom, is integrated in the push to rationalize and improve delivery of care.

I quote: “When some people talk about integration they actually mean organisational and provider integration – creating single accountable care organisations or lead providers. Others mean integrating commissioning – bringing local authority and health commissioning together into a single place.

“Some mean improving collaboration and co-ordination with the voluntary and other sectors.

“Yet others mean integrating governance – for example, creating health and wellbeing boards. And there are yet more who mean integrating finance – for example by pooling budgets or creating integrated health and social care funds.

“They’re all integration, they’re all important steps, but none of them, by and of themselves, directly improves patient outcomes.”

I can see there’s a problem here and until it was explained so vividly I was never really confused. Now I need chocolate, hot tea and  . . . a round of golf to clear my head.

Jon Rouse, the new director general for social care at the Department of Health, defines integrated health and care as sharing 11 common features, says Mr Hopson. And here they are:

• Strong clinical leadership across sectors and disciplines

• Use of data driven processes to drive improvement

• Multi-disciplinary teams built round primary care practitioners

• Strong investment in preventative services to improve patient self management

• Use of risk stratification and proactive assessment and care planning

• Effective care co-ordination in crises, starting in A&E, including social and mental health care and through to discharge

• Seamless transfer between acute and community settings, backed up by continuous dialogue between the lead primary care practitioner and hospital consultant

• Single electronic care record with patient access/interaction

• Both integrated commissioning and integrated provision

• Integration between physical and mental health services, with similar access standards

• Same incentives across system – outcomes, process, user experience, value for money.

How do we measure up? Oops!

Full article – worth a read – http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2013/sep/18/health-social-care-integration-success

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