Integrated care: what is the main underlying idea?

9 Jun

This past 23rd, 24th and 25th May, 2016, Barcelona hosted ICIC16 – The 16th International Conference on Integrated Care where 1,000 attendees from over 50 countries around the globe enjoyed an active and busy agenda.

The experience involved 92 speakers and over 23 hours, which was also possible to follow via streaming. All in all, a challenge which the organizers were successful in delivering. You can read or re-read the Twitter comments from here: #ICIC16.

Gabi Barbaglia, Vicky Serra-Sutton, Laia Domingo, Mireia Espallargues, Marina Ordóñez, Montse Moharra

The International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC) has become a must for professionals who provide care for people and managers working in the fields of health and social services, among others.

Different languages to express the same message: integrated care represents the path we need to follow in order to meet the challenges of our aging populations.

How can we do it? Integrated care proposes the integration of services as a response to the fragmentation of care practice, especially in the biomedical system. The coordination of professionals and institutions aims to improve the experience of patients’ who receive care, as well as their families and to improve their quality of life related to health. This becomes especially key when identifying patients with complex needs.

The main topics covered during the ICIC conference referred to people-centred care within the perspective of those treated and in the coordination, integration and, collaboration of services, professionals and systems (health, social, education, justice, corporate, etc.). In this regard, there were a variety of experiences presented from around the world of collaborative approaches that promote a multidisciplinary and integrated style.


The conference speakers emphasized the value of primary care and community health as being core to providing care to the community as well as the leadership of professionals from the areas of nursing, social work, the field of mental health and other disciplines and profiles.

Following this main topic, several presentations focused on different organizational models of collaborative care which report findings that endorse the adoption of strategies from the bottom up, in other words, strategies that would enable the initiatives proposed by health professionals to reach planners and administrators who, in turn, can provide the support and recognition.

It is important to highlight that there is an ever-increasing recognition of the importance of social determinants of health and looking to the community for the role it might play in shaping these determinants.

One highlight of the conference was the talk Changing culture and measuring what matters given by Alonzo L. Plough in which the speaker summarized the report: Building a National Culture of Health: background, action, framework, measures and next steps.

Don Reding from National Voices, gave an inspirational presentation with Putting what matters most to patients and communities at the heart of health and social care design.

Another outstanding presentation was that given by Professor Deirdre Heenan from the University of Ulster: Integrated care in Northern Ireland: meeting the challenge of mental health.

***You can read more about the ICIC 2016 conference by clicking on the following link:

That’s not all. Next year’s conference will be held in Dublin (land of innovators!) with the following themes:

ICIC #ICIC17 Dublin

Let’s come back to Barcelona for a while. For some time now, the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS as per the Catalan synonym) has been working on an assessment of integrated care, by way of example with the Evaluation of collaborative social and health care models.

It is also noteworthy the recent publication of the specialised report in the Social Work Magazine (Revista de Treball Social), titled: Integrated social and health care: points to reflect upon, which we believe to be a good cross-section of opinions and a good starting point.

Another iniciative in AQuAS is the SUSTAIN project -funded by Horizon2020, an opportunity for professionals to work jointly with their peers in other countries in an effort to define a roadmap and establish synergies in the field of Integrated care in Europe, a project of great interest for Catalonia.

Finally, it is vital not to lose sight of another key issue which is equality in the access to and outcomes from services, and this implies regular analysis of variations  in care which have not been justified.

A further helpful instrument for incorporating the opinions of those who receive care and the professionals involved is that of shared decisions. This involves a line of work which incorporates available evidence in a specific area or department of care, the preferences of patients when faced with the different health intervention options, and the essential information for improving the knowledge of all those involved (professionals, patients and their families and environment).

Post written by Vicky Serra-Sutton, Gabi Barbaglia (@gabibarblagia), Laia Domingo, Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret) and Mireia Espallargues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.