New roles in integrated healthcare: what can we learn from the rest of the world?

By Kate Harper - Director of Research, Insight and Thought Leadership

The UK is not the only country grappling with the challenge of rolling out system-wide models of health and social care. For well over a decade, countries around the world have worked to find new approaches to overcoming care fragmentation via different levels of integration.  

The vision for the UK, which Integrated Care Systems are being charged to deliver, is arguably one of the most ambitious programmes to date. Other approaches have focused on a range of integration models including:

  • horizontal integration - between health services and social services
  • vertical integration - between primary, community and tertiary
  • sectoral integration - for mental health
  • people-centred integration - for specific groups of patients or communities

However, the UK is pursuing a programme of whole-system integration that combines all of the above with public health support, focusing on the multiple needs of the whole population1.  Inevitably this challenge will involve new thinking about work organisation and the skills of the people needed to deliver healthcare in a different way.

Given so much has gone before, what can we learn from the experiences of others about the workforce challenges associated with whole-system integration? What should we be doing today for the workforce we know we will need tomorrow?