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A decade of integration and collaboration: the development of integrated health care in Sweden 2000-2010

Authors:

Bengt Ahgren ,

SE
About Bengt

PhD, MPolSc, Associate Professor, Nordic School of Public Health, P.O. Box 12133, SE-402 42 Göteborg, Sweden

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Runo Axelsson

About Runo

PhD, Professor, Nordic School of Public Health, P.O. Box 12133, SE-402 42 Göteborg, Sweden

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Abstract

Introduction: The recent history of integrated health care in Sweden is explored in this article, focusing on the first decade of the 2000s. In addition, there are some reflections about successes and setbacks in this development and challenges for the next decade.    

Description of policy and practice: The first efforts to integrate health care in Sweden appeared in the beginning of the 1990s. The focus was on integration of intra-organisational processes, aiming at a more cost-effective health care provision. Partly as a reaction to the increasing economism at that time, there was also a growing interest in quality improvement. Out of this work emerged the "chains of care", integrating all health care providers involved in the care of specific patient groups. During the 2000s, many county councils have also introduced inter-organisational systems of "local health care". There has also been increasing collaboration between health professionals and other professional groups in different health and welfare services. 

Discussion and conclusion: Local health care meant that the chains of care and other forms of integration and collaboration became embedded in a more integrative context. At the same time, however, policy makers have promoted free patient choice in primary health care and also mergers of hospitals and clinical departments. These policies tend to fragment the provision of health care and have an adverse effect on the development of integrated care. As a counterbalance, more efforts should be put into evaluation of integrated health care, in order to replace political convictions with evidence concerning the benefits of such health care provision.

How to Cite: Ahgren B, Axelsson R. A decade of integration and collaboration: the development of integrated health care in Sweden 2000-2010. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2011;11(5):None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.566
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Published on 24 Mar 2011.
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