Capacity building and technical support for implementing Integrated Care in Europe

The European Commission, Directorate-General Health and Food Safety, in collaboration with the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), organised a workshop and a marketplace on “capacity building and technical support for implementing integrated care” in the context of the 19th International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC19), 1-3 April 2019, in San Sebastian, Spain.

The aim of these events was to bring together the “demand” and “supply” sides, i.e. respectively the authorities responsible for organisation of health care systems and organisations/experts capable to provide knowledge and expertise on how to implement integrated care. During the events, the two sides had the opportunity to talk to each other and consider potential co-operation on transforming health systems.

The workshop took place on 1st April. It started with presentations on EU level actions and instruments to help build capacity and mobilise financing for the implementation of integrated care, including the type of technical assistance provided by the European Commission’s Structural Reforms Support Service. There were also presentations of three EU projects: SCIROCCO Exchange and VIGOUR (funded by the EU Health Programme) and DigitalHealthEurope (funded by Horizon 2020). Twinning activities and knowledge exchanges between early adopters (authorities with greater experience in integration of care) and the next adopters (less experienced ones) are part of these projects.

Following that, the demand and supply sides took the floor. In total, there were ten presentations on concrete cases, five from each side. The demand side representatives (from Estonia, Flanders in Belgium, Poland, Slovakia and Twente in the Netherlands) showed examples of their current experience in receiving technical assistance and also the support they require to advance with integrated care implementation. The supply side representatives (from IFIC, Optimedis-Cobic, the World Bank, the University of Cologne and the Bevan Commission in Wales) presented the ways they are able to support health and care authorities in their reform efforts.

The marketplace (opened after the workshop until the end of the ICIC19 conference) was a dedicated area for the supply and demand sides to have bilateral or multilateral discussions on potential co-operation. The European Commission and IFIC prepared a mapping of demand-supply organisations for each of the 12 dimensions of the SCIROCCO Maturity Model for integrated care, as a means to help the two sides start discussions. This mapping was displayed at the marketplace area, in order to make the “matchmaking” easier.

The workshop and the marketplace are part of the activities by the European Commission to assist the EU Member States in building their capacities to reform their health systems. Events like these will help the authorities (national, regional and local) to progress towards integrated care systems, departing from pilot phase (at which many initiatives are currently) to full implementation. The workshop enabled the attendees to learn not only where to look for know-how but also about financial resources at EU level available to plan and implement reforms.

Filip Domański is a Policy Officer in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE).