Understanding Integrated Care: The Role of Information and Communication Technology

Understanding Integrated Care: The Role of Information and Communication Technology

Nick Goodwin (International Foundation for Integrated Care, The Netherlands) and Albert Alonso (Innovation Directorate of Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6138-7.ch004


This chapter provides a thorough grounding in the meaning and logic of integrated care and the role of ICT. It begins with an overview that describes why integrated care has become a central theme to the reform of health and social care in the face of mounting demographic and economic challenges that require a new way of thinking about how care can be more cost-effectively delivered. Following an in-depth analysis of what is meant by integrated care, including an interpretation of the various definitions and interpretations that have been provided, the chapter moves on to provide an understanding of the challenges faced when implementing integrated care programmes in practice and the key lessons in how systems of integrated care can be built. The role of information, communication, and technology as essential components for the success of integrated care is then considered together with an assessment of the future research agenda.
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Over the past few decades, significant demographic changes in Europe have seen long-term chronic conditions replace communicable disease as the most significant challenge that health and care systems need to address. This shift means that the economic burden of chronic illness now represents between 75-80 per cent of health care expenditure, a figure that continues to rise (Nolte and McKee, 2008). This growth is significantly associated with ageing populations. Across the European Union, the old age dependency ratio rose from 22.7% to 25,3% between 1997 and 2007 (OECD, 2009) and it is estimated that in 20 years’ time (by 2034) more than five per cent of all people in Western Europe will be aged over 85 with more than one-fifth of these living with five or more co-morbidities (concurrent physical and mental health needs) (European Commission and Economic Policy Committee, 2009). Hence, coupled with the trend for rising health care costs is a dramatic increase in the use of long-term care by older people. Projections of future demand and spending on both health care, and long-term care, therefore are framing the debate about how best to fund and deliver health and social care in the future.

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