Over the past decade a number of health policies have sought to put the patient first and to improve health outcomes. Choice and competition have been key elements of these policies, but the importance of integrated care was highlighted by Lord Darzi in the final report of the NHS Next Stage Review.
Does integration of care act as a barrier to choice and competition? This question has long been debated and highlights the complexities and nuances of the issue. The debate should be informed by evidence on the performance of integrated systems – and by greater clarity on the terminology used.
Clinical and system integration makes a significant contribution to that debate by: