Many believe that new forms of integrated care could help to improve quality and value in the NHS. The Nuffield Trust is working with policy-makers and professionals to determine the best ways forward.
The divisions in the English NHS between primary and secondary care providers and between health and social care mean that patients, especially those with long-term conditions, often need to have their requirements met by professionals working in several separate organisations.
This can lead to poor co-ordination, resulting in gaps in care or a failure to provide coherent, patient-centred pathways through the different services being used.
These divisions can mean that resources are needlessly duplicated in different institutions or that patients who could have been treated earlier end up requiring far more costly and complex treatment.
Researchers have suggested that this wastes money which could be used to maintain and improve services in a period of austere budgets.
In a fully integrated system, patients’ needs not organisational boundaries would decide how care is provided
We are playing a lead role in this area by examining, evaluating and helping to accelerate promising developments that help to improve quality and reduce avoidable costs.
One of our most significant projects is research we are leading, in partnership with The King’s Fund, to help develop a national strategy promoting integrated care within the new health system.
Another major project will see us develop an effective surveillance system to monitor and assess the quality of care provided to patients – using and developing our innovative data linkage techniques along with our analysis of NHS finances and productivity. This project is being conducted in partnership with The Health Foundation.
Dr Judith Smith, Nuffield Trust, and Dr Nick Goodwin, The King’s Fund, on the two organisations’ recommendations for a national integrated care strategy
As well as this work, we are also assessing attempts at integration in the English NHS and abroad, drawing on our expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the process.
Photo credit: The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Flickr