An integrated health and social care plan is a system that combines and makes available a number of medical and social care services that residents may need. Unlike other healthcare programs, an integrated system focuses on patients’ needs.
The objective is to improve patient outcomes, value for money, and satisfaction. While health and social care remain two different things in many countries of the world, a small number of nations have shown commitment towards an integrated approach including the UK.
A joined-up care system presents huge benefits to all stakeholders; patients, healthcare professional, and the government. In addition to being cost-effective, the system overcomes possible organizational, legal, professional, and regulatory barriers existing between social care and health sectors.
Countries with an Integrated Health And Social Care System
Integrated health and social care services are increasingly getting closer to becoming a reality. Not a single country has a successfully joined-up system. However, there are regions that will soon consider themselves successful. Some of these include:
France has a universal healthcare system that is largely funded by the government through national health insurance program. According to an assessment by World Health Organization in 2000, the country had the best overall healthcare globally.
France has a fully-integrated network of doctors, public and private hospitals, and several other healthcare service providers. Although the country does not have a perfect integrated health and social care system, nearly all residents are happy with the quality of care they receive. France’s senior citizens have continued to enjoy integrated care for more than 10 years now.
The United Kingdom (UK)
Member states of the UK are doing their best. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all made significant steps towards a joined approach. England government, for example, is targeting to have all regions of the country integrated by 2020. Like other countries forming the UK, England has realized free and universal health care at the point of use through NHS.
Scotland is not left behind. The country passed legislation in 2016 and tasked her Integration Authorities to actualize a joined health and social care service. In fact, the Scottish Government allocated an additional £550 million for direct investment in the program in 2018-2019.
Israel’s healthcare system exhibits elements of integration. With close similarity to Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland, the country’s social health insurance system entails a large network of integrated insurance providers.
Unlike in other regions, insurance providers in Israel are actively involved in shaping health and social care. Apart from soldiers, all Israel citizens and permanent residents have universal health care through the National Health Insurance (NHI). Currently, integrated health and social care services are limited in the country but the government is committed to its improvement.
Germany may not top your list of countries with operational integrated care system because of the structural fragmentation of its social care and health program. A closer look depicts the opposite. The country’s Gesundes Kinzigtal is one of the most admired healthcare models globally.
The model is patient-centered and offers personalized treatment as well as follow-up plans. Generally, Gesundes Kinzigtal has improved health outcomes, reduced the cost of care, and has reported better patient experience. Its success is attributed to its unique combination of IT, care processes, prevention measures, and public health. Germany has achieved an insurance-based universal health care for all residents.