Organizing integrated health-care services to meet older people's needs

Islene Araujo de Carvalho, JoAnne Epping-Jordan, Anne Margriet Pot, Edward Kelley, Nuria Toro, Jotheeswaran A Thiyagarajan, John R Beard

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In most countries, a fundamental shift in the focus of clinical care for older people is needed. Instead of trying to manage numerous diseases and symptoms in a disjointed fashion, the emphasis should be on interventions that optimize older people's physical and mental capacities over their life course and that enable them to do the things they value. This, in turn, requires a change in the way services are organized: there should be more integration within the health system and between health and social services. Existing organizational structures do not have to merge; rather, a wide array of service providers must work together in a more coordinated fashion. The evidence suggests that integrated health and social care for older people contributes to better health outcomes at a cost equivalent to usual care, thereby giving a better return on investment than more familiar ways of working. Moreover, older people can participate in, and contribute to, society for longer. Integration at the level of clinical care is especially important: older people should undergo comprehensive assessments with the goal of optimizing functional ability and care plans should be shared among all providers. At the health system level, integrated care requires: (i) supportive policy, plans and regulatory frameworks; (ii) workforce development; (iii) investment in information and communication technologies; and (iv) the use of pooled budgets, bundled payments and contractual incentives. However, action can be taken at all levels of health care from front-line providers through to senior leaders - everyone has a role to play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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