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ICT-enabled social innovation for integrated health- and social care of older people: mapping and analysis


Csaba Kucsera ,

Gianluca Misuraca


The demographic change in the European Union and the economic crisis with its profound and lasting consequences on its societies and their social protection systems prompted the European Commission to issue the Social Investment Package (SIP) in 2013. The SIP is a comprehensive communication that identifies policy goals and suggests measures to attain them in new yet comprehensive ways in this context. According to the SIP, social innovations can improve the efficiency and adequacy of social policies and the provision of social services in addressing such societal challenges; and can also facilitate life-long investment in personal and community capacities – human capital – to boost personal and community-based coping strategies with challenges when they arise. Such potentials of social innovations are further increased by novel solutions enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

The ongoing IESI research project – in its full name 'ICT-Enabled Social Innovation in support to the implementation of the EU Social Investment Package', that is conducted by JRC-IPTS, part of the European Commission's in-house science service – applies a systematic approach to understand better how ICT-enabled social innovation might contribute to social investment policies. It builds a database of ICT-enabled social innovation initiatives – policy-relevant experiences like services, policies or systems – primarily from the Member States of the EU, and documents extensively those that were able to deliver proven benefits on policy-relevant outcomes. During the first two year of the project – that runs until December 2016 – 210 initiatives were mapped and analysed in total in a wide array of social services. The project also develops a general impact assessment framework to capture the benefits to various stakeholders at different levels.

Importantly, the IESI research project maintains a particular focus on the policy area of Active and Healthy Ageing and Long-Term Care. Within this focus integrated care – defined here as integration of health- and social care – is of a special interest, as evidence shows that integrated approaches could put older people in the centre of care delivery to meet their needs better and improve the overall care efficiency and productivity; and ICT-enabled solutions could indeed enhance the integration in the background as well as the care provision itself.

The proposed definition of ICT-enabled social innovation and the developed conceptual and analytical framework aim to understand better the social innovation potential of ICTs in social policy areas like integrated care. This framework acknowledges that the types of integration could be manifold and more types could be present at the same time at an initiative i.e. integration could take place on funding, administrative, organisational, and delivery system fields. Another important element of this conceptual framework – still from the integration's point of view – is the dimension of various levels that the 'governance of service integration' might form, i.e. across scopes of operations of public authorities and other stakeholders. And finally, but not exhaustively, this conceptual and analytical framework incorporates a dimension that assess the potential that ICTs can play in amending or even transforming the way how initiatives could be operated or even conceived from weak/functionalist to strong/transformative roles.

This paper outlines the conceptual and analytical framework developed in full; explains the methodological steps applied in data collection and the building of the database. The paper also provides evidence-based results of this structured mapping and analysis of a sample of 55 initiatives operating in the broader Active and Healthy Ageing and Long-term Care policy area so far, including integrated health- and social care, and presents a 'Knowledge Map' by applying the specific conceptual framework developed. Importantly, all the initiatives analysed showed some systematic evidence on delivering benefits to the providers of the services, the users of services, or both. Results seem to back that technology has a huge potential in the area of Active and Healthy Ageing and long-term care, and the analysed initiatives shows more innovation potential as well as integration-levels than in most of the other social policy areas under scrutiny.

Finally, the paper discusses new dimensions that the conceptual and analytical framework could be further enriched with. 

How to Cite: Kucsera C, Misuraca G. ICT-enabled social innovation for integrated health- and social care of older people: mapping and analysis. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2016;16(6):A60. DOI:
Published on 16 Dec 2016.


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