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Canadian Policy Context – Driving the Design of an Integrated People-Centred Health Systems Standard and Implementation Tools


Patricia Sullivan-Taylor

Health Standards Organization, CA
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Despite national and international policy commitment to implement integrated health systems, we lack standards that support evidence-based design, implementation, and evaluation. Some stakeholders perceive existing frameworks as too theoretical. Health Standard Organization’s (HSO) Integrated People-Centred Health Systems (IPCHS) standard was developed to bridge this gap between theory and practice. This session will profile the Canadian policy context, population health needs, partnership and lessons from the design and early uptake of this standard and implementation tools. Discussion will include transferability to other countries and learnings across different settings.

Aims Objectives Theory or Methods

The IPCHS standard will facilitate implementation of integrated health systems and monitoring of outcomes. Canada’s health and social care system is a federated model with ten provincial and three territorial systems that cover 38 million people. In 2018, health spending in Canada was 10.7% of GDP compared to 8.8% in 36 OECD countries. Early forecasting on COVID-19 health spending suggests that increased costs could vary from 0.3 to 10% of GDP, depending on response measures.

Canada’s population health outcomes lag those of eight OECD countries, who spend less and achieve higher life expectancy at birth.

Highlights or Results or Key Findings

Integration of health and social services is a national and jurisdictional priority and exists in most strategic direction documents from governments, health authorities, and healthcare organizations.

System-level policies and programs have been implemented nationally and provincially. The IPCHS standard is for use globally by health and social service ministries, administrators, and health systems/authorities. Complementing existing frameworks, the standard is divided into 10 design principles that address different aspects of health and social service integration with criteria guidance for policymakers and health system partners. The IPCHS standard, released in May 2021, was co-designed with policymakers, administrators, providers, patients, and academics. Additional feedback was received from a diverse audience during two public review periods and consultation with policymakers and system leaders.

Two implementation tools are being co-designed to assist with standard adoption and use globally. Both prototype tools are available for testing in Fall 2021 with final tools released in Fall 2022.


For integration to work, governance models must account for the complex and evolving needs of health and care systems. Governance models must break down barriers and facilitate co-operation over competition. This standard and implementation tools will facilitate implementation and monitoring of progress and outcomes.

Implications for applicability/transferability sustainability and limitations

The Integrated Care Assessment Tool helps health systems/networks understand where they are on the integration continuum and what is needed to advance their integration goals. Meanwhile, the Pathways Toolkit ensures integrated care best practices are applied within the local context. These tools and the IPCHS standard are applicable globally.

How to Cite: Sullivan-Taylor P. Canadian Policy Context – Driving the Design of an Integrated People-Centred Health Systems Standard and Implementation Tools. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S2):165. DOI:
Published on 16 May 2022.


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