What does it take to make it work?

Lack of a proper health care system is a serious problem that affects people greatly. Chronic diseases and population aging are affecting human population greatly. Efforts are being made in each country of the world to improve their health system. Good health care should imply quality and easily accessible system, smart management and a steady budget. This sounds hard to obtain, but it’s even harder in praxis. Integrated health care is one of such attempts, developed in order to improve the existing situation with health care providers.

What Is Integrated Health Care?
Probably the best definition of integrated health care is offered by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, integrated service delivery is “the organization and management of health services so that people get the care they need, when they need it, in ways that are user-friendly, achieve the desired results, and provide value for money”. Obviously, this is not an easy task, but it is worth the trouble since it provides an ideal scenario. This way the patients’ overall well-being is on the focus, not just a single episode of treatment.

The question is – how to accomplish integrate healthcare? Different tactics have been used to do so, but there are a few guidelines which pave the road towards successful implementation.

What Does It Take to Make Integrated Health Care Work? First of all, cooperation between primary and secondary care is a starting point for building a strongly integrated health care. We can find a very good example of this approach in Germany, where the patients may receive all levels of care in one facility. The patients can consult various health professionals, but also undergo different tests and receive prescriptions. Thus, they are a part of a closed circle. We all know how frustrating it is to organize all of these segments separately, so this has a tremendous significance for the patients.

Further on, the cooperation between health care and community care is very important and inevitable for the project to succeed. For example, social services and community services must work closely together. This means that before an elderly or disabled patient leaves a hospital, he/she is assigned to a health worker that will keep a close watch on the patients’ well-being further on. The plan for future treatment of each patient should be developed through joint efforts of experts in different fields of medicine.

It is also important to mention the cooperation between payers and providers. If the relationship between these two parties works, service delivery improves. Budget is always a problem and an important item, but with proper management and consultancy, health care can reach a high level, without raising costs. Closely monitored and coordinated after-care surely minimizes the need for occasional emergency interventions. Not to mention it decreases the risk of death.

Bottom Line Integrated health care improves health services, decreases costs of health care and induces better health outcomes. The last thing a sick person needs is to procrastinate with the recovery process and suffer stress from going through numerous tests, held in different places, with different paperwork.

The organization that considers implementing integrated health care must approach this process seriously and responsibly, considering which patients and services should be included, which integration model should be used, etc. It’s worth the effort.


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