Rationale for project INTEGRATE

Changing Societal Health Needs

As the prevalence of chronic conditions continues to increase, along with the rapid ageing of the population, it brings with it the increasing challenge of sustainability in our healthcare systems worldwide. In European alone, chronic non-communicable diseases represent almost 80% of the total burden of disease. Active and healthy ageing is indeed a societal challenge. Fortunately many us view it as an opportunity; an opportunity to develop and provide innovative solutions for patients and Europe’s health and social security systems. Healthcare has traditionally been organized around an acute, episodic model of care; however this no longer meets the needs of the todays changing society. What is required is a strong re-orientation and introduction of substantial innovative changes to the delivery of care for service-users with chronic conditions; this is widely accepted.

A Need for Healthcare Innovation

Management of chronic patients represents the most significant burden on the sustainability of European health systems. A new innovative paradigm is thus needed to effectively manage and coordinate the diverse needs of today’s service users (especially multi-morbid, chronic and complex), given the current limited resources and fragmented services. Care for chronic conditions needs integration (rather than fragmentation) to ensure information is adequately shared across settings and providers that finances adequately coordination across the entire health and social system, whilst ensuring prevention efforts and the local communities are also included.

Role of Project INTEGRATE?

Project Integrate is financed under the European Commission FP7 programme to respond to this need for quality efficiency and solidarity of health care systems. Despite the internationally recognised importance of the integrated care approach and the growing evidence of chronic conditions in ageing societies, integrated care is not a deployed option in many health systems. Through this project we will investigate a series of integrated care experiences of chronic conditions in different settings across Europe, to ultimately provide practical and theoretical insights which can then be reflected across the participating countries, and internationally. Four case studies are being undertaken to address several conditions (COPD, diabetes, geriatric condition and mental care) that are among those with a high epidemiologic importance and high economic burden on health systems. The choice has been based on comparability and difference, which are implemented in different types of health systems: national health systems types (Spain and Sweden) and health insurance types (Netherlands and Germany).

We are identifying what works, when and where and contribute to the uptake of integrated care, by bringing together, in a well-designed European study, different  experiences from different settings under a common methodology.  We expect our project to untangle some of this web of complexity and explain why some conditions need different models/processes in integrated care compared to others, as well as revealing any lessons that have universal value across different conditions and settings, in terms of positive patient care experiences; care outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

EIP-AHA B3 Integrate Care

The European Commission  further rose to this challenge by creating the pilot European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA). The partnership aims to increase the average healthy lifespan in the EU by 2 years by 2020 through:

  • Improving the health and quality of life of Europeans with a focus on older people;
  • Supporting the long-term sustainability and efficiency of health and social care systems;
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of EU industry through business and expansion in new markets.

Project INTEGRATE has made a commitment to the EIP-AHA to generate evidence on the integration of care and cure processes for ageing and chronic conditions; an aim that is at the heart of the EIP-AHA. Project INTEGRATE is now part of the coordination group on EIP-AHA B3: Replicating and tutoring integrated care for chronic diseases, including remote monitoring at regional level”.

For further elaborations please continue to follow us in this innovative and collaborative exploration into health and social care practice…

Lucinda Cash-Gibson & Magdalene Rosenmöller, IESE Business School, Spain