Introduction: Integrating care is a developing feature of provincial health delivery in Canada for those with chronic conditions. The purposes of this project were to review the conceptual understandings underlying integrated care, examine the features of models of cost-effective care for the elderly, and then ascertain to what extent Canadian provinces were implementing these features.
Method: These goals were accomplished through a review of the integrated care literature followed by a survey of the Canadian provinces. A pre-tested questionnaire was sent to each of the ten provincial Ministries of Health in 2008. The questionnaire collected basic background information and then asked a series of open- and close-ended questions about each of the best practice features of integrated care as found in the literature review.
Results: System improvements in integrating care for the elderly are being implemented in Canadian provincial health care systems. There has been substantial improvement in the delivery of case management services but the supply of some community services could be improved. As well, the linkages amongst primary, acute and community care remain weak.
Discussion and conclusion: Providing an adequate supply of services is an ongoing issue in many provinces and could be the result of either inadequate funding and/or poor targeting of scarce resources. While it is promising that so many provinces are starting to break down the silos amongst types of health care service providers, much remains to be accomplished. These issues are at the core of integrating care and are among the challenges being faced by other countries.