Defining and Measuring Integrated Patient Care
Promoting the Next Frontier in Health Care Delivery
Published in: Medical Care Research and Review, v. 68, no. 1, Feb. 2011, p. 112-127
Integration of care is emerging as a central challenge of health care delivery, particularly for patients with multiple, complex chronic conditions. The authors argue that the concept of "integrated patient care" would benefit from further clarification regarding (a) the object of integration and (b) its essential components, particularly when constructing measures. To address these issues, the authors propose a definition of integrated patient care that distinguishes it from integrated delivery organizations, acknowledging that integrated organizational structures and processes may fail to produce integrated patient care. The definition emphasizes patients' central role as active participants in managing their own health by including patient centeredness as a key element of integrated patient care. Measures based on the proposed definition will enable empirical assessment of the potential relationships between the integration of organizations, the integration of patient care, and patient outcomes, providing valuable guidance to health systems reformers.