The authors explore the concept of integration, discuss the barriers to integration and assess the benefits and risks of the various options. The concept in itself is not settled or agreed upon, let alone the solution(s). Quotation:
“Integrated care takes many different forms. In some circumstances, integration may focus on primary and secondary care, and in others it may involve health and social care. A distinction can be made between real integration, in which organisations merge their services, and virtual integration, in which providers work together through networks and alliances.
Integration may also entail bringing together responsibility for commissioning and provision. This form of integration is important because it allows clinicians to use budgets to either provide more services directly or commission these services from others. Integrating commissioning and provision helps to facilitate the development of new models of care outside hospitals that better meet the needs of an ageing population and the increasing burden of chronic diseases”.
Ham, C. Dixon, J. [and] Chantler, C. (2011). Clinically integrated systems: the future of NHS reform in England? BMJ (Clinical research ed.), March 28th 2011, Vol.342, d905. (Click here to view the PubMed record).