Being at the ICIC17 was a real pleasure. The high number of delegates and the high number of contributions from numerous countries reflects that integrated care matters. As in previous editions, attendees still want to explore what integrated care really is about, how it can work in practice, what experiences there are and, what we can learn from each other. Lessons are being shared and also being recognized by others when discussed. This shows that getting more grip on how to work on integrated care, on the client or team level but also on organizational or even on national level is important. Interesting examples like Scotland’s Links Worker programme, as presented by Kelvin and Gourley, demonstrated the importance of embedding integrated care approaches in local or regional contexts. The attention for context is important and also ambitious because contexts differ and are not always taken into account enough in research. It was striking to see that although contexts differ, to involve local neighbourhoods as partners, a comparable approach in the Dutch ‘Even Buurten’ project – presented by Van der Schoot- was executed as it was in Scotland’s example. Busetto added to this in her presentation with suggestions on how to pay attention to contextual factors and also into integrated care research and evaluations.
This brings us to an interesting point made by Professor Rafa Bengoa, who has been appointed as Chair of an Expert Panel established to provide a 10 year vision for Health & Social Care in Northern Ireland, that also policy (makers) need to be involved to create conditions for integrated care. We can have knowledge from science or good examples, without commitment of policy makers it is not going to happen or sustain. It helps to think in (political) risks; low risk interventions should ‘just’ be carried out, but for ‘high risk’, more innovative approaches and experiments are suggested. Also, when we look from a policy makers point of view, the need for ‘real time evaluations’ and a faster view on results asks for a reflection on our often-used research methods in integrated care evaluations. Inspiring and important suggestions, which underline my own experiences that for effective integrated care we need to bridge science, policy and practice at the same time. So we can also address what this knowledge means for educational programs and even for new roles that facilitate integrated care.
This ‘bridging’ challenge is also one of my personal assignments in my new role as Vice chair of the Executive board of the Foundation. I feel honoured and inspired to contribute to the movement for integrated care which I think is crucial in increasing person centeredness and better results for all. In my opinion IFIC enormously developed itself in the last years; not only by growing membership numbers and large conferences, but also by the Journal with an increasing submission rate, an Integrated Care Academy©, the development of international ‘hubs’ and a professionalized learning and communication strategy. Also, the start of already six Special Interest Groups demonstrates the need to further develop and work on theory building on integrated care. It also shows the willingness to learn and exchange around the world. From my role as a board member I will give my energy to the further development of IFIC as a dynamic international knowledge network, in which members connect with each other and with the Foundation throughout the year (not only at conferences) to collaboratively increase impact and advance knowledge about integrated care. When all IFIC’s members are involved as key players of the Foundation, collaboratively we join forces for the next steps in integrated care development.
Prof. Mirella Minkman, Vilans
Vice-Chair and Secretary
International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC)