Integrating health and social care services improves some patient outcomes
Citation: Baxter S, Johnson M, Chambers D, et al. The effects of integrated care: a systematic review of UK and international evidence. BMC Health Services Research 2018; 18(1): 350
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on health and social care services. Existing research on integrating health and social care may provide evidence to ease this.
In this systematic review, the authors searched for research into the effects of introducing models of integration or co-ordination in healthcare or health and social care settings in countries that were a member of the Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development, with a focus on reaching conclusions relevant to the UK national health system. They restricted their search to articles published in English since 2006 and did their most recent search in May 2017. They included 43 systematic reviews, 54 studies from the UK, 49 high quality studies from outside the UK with a comparator group, and 21 low quality non-UK studies without a comparator group.
What was found: Integrated care appears to enhance patient satisfaction, increase perceived quality of care and increase patient access to health and social care services.
In the UK, integrated care was also found to reduce patient waiting time and outpatient appointments and increase the likelihood that a patient’s wishes for their end of life are met.
What’s uncertain: The impact of integrated care on some outcomes, including service costs and numbers of patients using community and hospital services, is uncertain.
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