Conceptualizing and Measuring Integration: Findings from the Health Systems Integration Study

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Given the pressures for health care reform, interest in the concept of integrated or organized delivery systems as a means to offer more coordinated cost-effective care is growing. This article has two primary objectives: (1) to clarify the different types of integration associated with the notion of an organized delivery system, and (2) to share the results from an ongoing study of 12 organized delivery systems. The findings indicate a moderate level of integration overall, particularly in the areas of culture, financial planning, and strategic planning. The study found that corporate staff respondents perceive their systems to be more integrated and effective than do operating unit managers, and that some functional integration areas are positively associated with both physician-system and clinical integration that, in turn, are positively related to each other. Overall, perceived integration was found to be positively associated with perceived effectiveness.

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