The business of integrated care: Implementing new models of care in a fee-for-service setting

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Journal Article
Journal of Integrated Care, 2018, 26 (1), pp. 16 - 28
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© 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose - The Western New South Wales Integrated Care Strategy (ICS) was rolled out from November 2014 across three rural sites. The purpose of this paper is to assess its impact on general practices, and examine the feasibility of implementing an ICS, within a predominantly fee-for-service delivery model. Design/methodology/approach - Mixed methods were used to analyse the implementation of the ICS, including practice-level patient data on changes in service provision. This includes unit-record data on 130 enroled patients across three rural sites, as well as qualitative data collection from providers. Findings - There were significant increases in both revenue-generating and non-revenuegenerating activities ( primarily care coordination activities) associated with implementing the ICS. Each occasion of service involved greater contact time with practice staff other than GPs, as well as greater administration time. There is evidence that ICS activities such as case conferencing and team care planning substitute for traditional GP consultations. Overall, the study found that a significant investment of resources - namely staff time devoted to a range of activities - was required to support the implementation of the ICS. Such an investment was supported both externally and through revenue-generating practice-level activities. Research limitations/implications - The data collection and evaluation project is ongoing, with analysis based on the first wave of data from three sites. Practical implications - At the practice level, a substantial commitment of resources is required to invest in, and sustain, a new model of integrated care (IC). This commitment can currently be supported both through higher revenue generation at the practice level, and externally by health system stakeholders, but changes in financial settings could impact on financial viability. Originality/value - This paper provides evidence on the role of blended payment mechanisms in facilitating the implementation of IC in a rural setting where there are medical workforce constraints.
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