Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems
Published in: Health Affairs, v. 35, no. 11, Nov. 2016, p. 1976-1981
Posted on RAND.org on November 28, 2016
New care delivery models that hold providers more accountable for coordinated, high-quality care and the overall health of their patients have appeared in the US health care system, spurred by recent legislation such as the Affordable Care Act. These models support the integration of health care systems, but maximizing health and well-being for all individuals will require a broader conceptualization of health and more explicit connections between diverse partners. Integration of health services and systems constitutes the fourth Action Area in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health Action Framework, which is the subject of this article. This Action Area conceives of a strengthened health care system as one in which medical care, public health, and social services interact to produce a more effective, equitable, higher-value whole that maximizes the production of health and well-being for all individuals. Three critical drivers help define and advance this Action Area and identify gaps and needs that must be addressed to move forward. These drivers are access, balance and integration, and consumer experience and quality. This article discusses each driver and summarizes practice gaps that, if addressed, will help move the nation toward a stronger and more integrated health system.