Research and citizens have noted failures in coordinating health and social services and professionals, and the need to address this issue to realize benefits from increasing specialisation. Different methods have been proposed and one has been structural integration of separate services within one organisation. This paper reports an empirical longitudinal study of the development of an integrated health and social care organisation in Sweden combining service provision, purchasing and political governance for a defined population.
The study found a combination of influences contributed to the development of this new organisation. The initial structural macro-integration facilitated, but did not of itself result in better clinical care coordination. Other actions were needed to modify the specialised systems and cultures which the organisation inherited. The study design was not able to establish with any degree of certainty whether better patient and cost outcomes resulted, but it did find structural and process changes which make improved outcomes likely. The study concludes that coordinated actions at different levels and of different types were needed to achieve care coordination for patients and that a phased approach was necessary where management capacity and outside expertise are limited.
Øvretveit J, Hansson J, Brommels M. An integrated health and social care organisation in Sweden: Creation and structure of a unique local public health and social care system. Health Policy [Internet]. 2010 Jun 16;In Press, Corrected Proof. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8X-509Y422-2/2/df4fd687fe75457b1c67150e3de8720f