Viewpoint story by Angus Forbes, Chair EUDF Integrated Care Strategic Forum

Putting integration in the spotlight to improve outcomes for people with diabetes.

Care integration has long been identified as having an important impact on the quality, efficacy, and efficiency of diabetes management. While a number of models and pilot program have shown the benefits of integrated care in diabetes, the experience for many patients and health professionals is that there are still significant deficits in the level of integration across care systems. In part this reflects divergent organizational infrastructures, determinants, and resources for diabetes care across Europe. 

 

The failure to enhance care integration results in inefficiency and suboptimal clinical performance, driving up care costs and increasing the health burden on people living with diabetes.

 

The EUDF Integrated Care Strategic Forum is identifying strategies focused on how to enhance care integration at the patient, health professional and system levels. 

 

The focus at the patient level is on identifying a framework to ensure a patient-centered approach across the life span. Consideration is also being given to the use of technology; addressing inequalities in diabetes care; and ensuring that psychosocial as well as metabolic health outcomes are addressed. 

 

For health professionals the focus has been on supporting integrated care models and pathways; introducing strategic and personalized care models, rather than following routines; and enhancing communication skills. 

 

At the system level we are considering how to construct transferable principles that can be applied across divergent health systems. This includes system level learning models and strategies to incentivize care integration. 

 

The Integrated Care Strategic Forum brings together people with diabetes, health professionals, researchers and representatives from industrial partners from across Europe. 

While this provides a good context for generating thinking on the topic of integration, we are also planning to discuss our ideas with wider diabetes networks and health policy makers. The breadth of experience and perspective within the Forum will enhance the outputs of work to ensure impact at multiple levels and contexts. 

 

Members of the Integrated Care Strategic Forum are currently collating numerous examples of good practice to determine how they might best be translated into transferable principles for integration in diabetes, acknowledging the divergence of care systems in Europe. These could also be used to create an analytical tool to enable different care providers to assess their systems in relation to potential integration deficits or strengths. 

 

Ultimate success would be the adoption and implementation of the outputs from our Forum in different care contexts, with identifiable improvements in care outcomes. We recognize that if the outputs of our group are to be adopted, we need to influence those responsible for commissioning and funding healthcare, including those at the political level. 

 

It is important for us to make clear the health economic benefits of adopting our recommendations, and to make the point that care integration is essential if the deficits in the supply and demand for diabetes care are to be addressed. 

 

Integration represents efficiency and value for money and it needs to be at the foundation of diabetes health care in every setting and country in Europe.

Learn more about the EUDF Integrated Care Strategic Forum
here.

Call to action

If you have or know of a best practice with regards to integrated care that could help move the needle for quality care for people living with diabetes, we would love to hear about it. The more we know, the more we can achieve together.