PloS one 2017 10 2712(10) e0187372 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0187372
Integrated care has been well-recognized as a solution to improve quality of care for patients with complex needs. As Singapore increasingly develops and promotes integrated models of care, it is unclear if providers, patients, and caregivers share similar understanding of changes in the healthcare system.
This study aims at exploring three dimensions of care integration: a) understanding of integration; b) challenges and c) changes perceived as essential among three distinct stakeholder groups: providers, patients and caregivers.
This qualitative study was conducted among 41 care providers (clinicians and administrators) and care consumers (patients and caregivers) in Singapore utilizing 29 semi-structured interviews and 2 focus group discussions. Study participants were selected by purposive, snowball sampling from various clinical settings. Data were transcribed, familiarized, coded and analyzed using a conceptual framework.
Understanding of care integration was generally lacking among patient and caregivers. Most of them focused on healthcare costs and accessibility of services. Providers characterized care integration in clinical process terms and had a more systems view of the concept. Most participants viewed resource constraints as a key challenge in integrating care. Additionally, providers expressed the need for patients and their families to play a greater role in managing their health. Individuals and the community are key components of an integrated care system in the future. Reliance on the healthcare system alone is not sustainable.
Patients, caregivers and providers have varying degrees of understanding towards care integration. The success of engaging stakeholders on the ground to be active participants in the healthcare system integration process requires policymakers and healthcare leaders to increase patient engagement efforts and to better appreciate the challenges faced by the healthcare workers in the rapidly changing national and global healthcare landscape.