April 21, 2016 Property

Is integrated care the magic pill for the NHS?


Is integrated care the magic pill for the NHS?

David Downing, Director of Health, SAS UK & Ireland.


There’s no doubt that with a growing and ageing population and an increasing number of people developing complex conditions, simply throwing more money at the NHS won’t solve its problems.

Yet, many re-organisations on since its foundation, how can the NHS financially cope with growing demand and, more importantly, how can it deliver better patient outcomes in order to improve value?


Integrated care is being touted as the next great transformative strategy, and significant funding has already been put in place for NHS Vanguards to trial the principles in clinical practice. Indeed, in the US, integrated care within some organisations has certainly achieved some incredibly positive outcomes, while delivering more efficient, patient-centric care at an enhanced level of quality.


For example, HealthPartners the largest consumer-governed, non-profit healthcare organisation in the US uses SAS to mine every last bit of data – from diagnoses to prescriptions, hospitalisations to tests – to find patterns that identify patients who need proactive disease interventions and case management. The result? They have gained the data-driven evidence to develop innovative integrated care programmes that have reduced yearly costs by $137 million – and helped their members stay healthier at the same time.  Now, 99 per cent of the members identified benefit from interventions.


But can integrated care really work in the UK? The NHS is the largest public sector body in the country and one that is renowned for its highly complex organisational structure. How can services be integrated around patient needs rather than doctors’ specialisms? Does this mean a radical, wholesale shift in the way that services are organised, delivered, costed and measured – and if it does, how will the NHS gather the data it needs to forecast demand for services, plan new care pathways, eradicate duplication, model treatment plans and continuously analyse patient outcomes and value?


Possibly the best known case study of a successful implementation of integrated care is Kaiser Permanente. With SAS solutions on board, this US non-profit health plan has achieved tight integration and strong results – something that is even more impressive when you consider that it is not a single institution but several co-operating organisations, with some 10 million members.


With this in mind, perhaps deploying integrated care is a real possibility and the magic pill our NHS needs? Or is it a leap too far? Should the first steps providers and CCGs take be to move towards other forms of value-based care?  With funding made available to Vanguards in 2015 to pilot new models of care, now is the time to collect opinions from across the NHS about the benefits, feasibility and likely outcomes of integrated care.



We speak up for the independent sector. All news articles are published by editor Viv Shepherd.

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