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1.  The challenges of joint working: lessons from the Supporting People Health Pilot evaluation 
Purpose
This paper reports the findings of the evaluation of the Supporting People Health Pilots programme, which was established to demonstrate the policy links between housing support services and health and social care services by encouraging the development of integrated services. The paper highlights the challenges of working across housing, health and social care boundaries.
Method
The evaluation of the six health pilots rested on two main sources of data collection: Quarterly Project Evaluation Reports collected process data as well as reporting progress against aims and objectives. Semi-structured interviews—conducted across all key professional stakeholder groups and agencies and with people who used services—explored their experiences of these new services.
Results
The ability of pilots to work across organisational boundaries to achieve their aims and objectives was associated not only with agencies sharing an understanding of the purpose of the joint venture, a history of joint working and clear and efficient governance arrangements but on two other characteristics: the extent and nature of statutory sector participation and, whether or not the service is defined by a history of voluntary sector involvement. In particular the pilots demonstrated how voluntary sector agencies appeared to be less constrained by organisational priorities and professional agenda and more able to respond flexibly to meet the complex needs of individuals.
Conclusion and discussion
The pilots demonstrate that integrating services to support people with complex needs works best when the service is determined by the characteristics of those who use the service rather than pre-existing organisational structures.
PMCID: PMC2092398  PMID: 18043723
governance; housing support; joint working
2.  Why integrated care? Conclusions from an international expert survey 
Purpose
Exploring the indicators most crucial for actors in health and social care services and identifying those which lead up to the initiation and implementation of integrated care. By analysing the reasons why integrated care is chosen and initiated, the underlying mechanisms and decision-making processes of integrated care are highlighted.
Theory
Even though integrated care projects and programmes are implemented in very different settings and health systems one can find the same main actors everywhere. They share similar goals and principles which are universal and not unique to one specific country or system. Hence, it is likely that the type of actor, i.e. health insurance, is more influential on the decision-making process than the health system and surrounding setting. In other words, it was stipulated that a health insurer in the Netherlands will have similar priorities for integrated care as a health insurer in Singapore and hence will choose similar integrated care approaches.
On the other hand, system administrators can strongly incentivise or discourage innovation and cooperation within the health and social care dominions, i.e. by passing laws or (re)organising the financing system. It is suggested that integrated care is implemented more widely in countries where stakeholders receive targeted incentives and fragmentation within the system is less pronounced.
Methods
The hypotheses were tested using an international expert questionnaire, contacting integrated care managers and decision-makers in Europe, North America and Australasia. The results were quantitatively analyzed using SPSS.
Results and conclusions
Integrated care is stipulated to offer solutions to the demographic changes, the concurring increase of chronic disease and the pressures on restricted resources experienced in the modern health systems of today. The survey conducted suggested a more diversified picture regarding the expectations and priorities set into the concept by health care decision-makers. While all of these challenges are perceived by them, their undisputed priority is on the introduction and enhancement of management structures on all levels. They do not value financial restrictions as severely as may have been anticipated and they revealed that neither active patient participation nor the introduction of outcome measurement are high priorities when introducing integrated care. The findings also suggest that the same stakeholders follow similar priorities disregarding the different health systems they act in.
In conclusion, two levels of priority setting have been identified as highly important for integrated care initiation: on the policy level, prioritisation of integrated care along with specific promotion measures influence decision-making; on the organisational level, the need for clear structures and better management tools both in the organisation itself and in the management of the targeted patient population, reflect the highest priorities for the decision-making process.
The response rate was 18% with the majority of responses coming from Germany, The Netherlands, UK and the USA.
Discussion
Integrated care has come a long way from the first projects implemented by health insurance organisations to a colourful array of projects and permanent programmes, spanning from local to national level and from very targeted to very broad inclusion criteria, initiated, owned and financed by a mix of all stakeholders and agents in the system. Hence, integrated care developed into a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ approach, stimulating change and confusion at the same time. Still, in most countries, it has not entered mainstream health care organisation and management and continues to struggle in proving its value. Asking why integrated care is initiated and implemented in the first place helps understand the priorities and objectives of decision-makers in health care, and hence can lead to a more targeted development and application of integrated care models.
PMCID: PMC3184810
decision-making; priority setting in integrated care; stakeholder-specific differences
3.  A self-evaluation tool for integrated care services: the Development Model for Integrated Care applied in practice 
Purpose
The purpose of the workshop is to show the applications of the Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC) in practice. This relatively new and validated model, can be used by integrated care practices to evaluate their integrated care, to assess their phase of development and reveal improvement areas. In the workshop the results of the use of the model in three types of integrated care settings in the Netherlands will be presented. Participants are offered practical instruments based on the validated DMIC to use in their own setting and will be introduced to the webbased tool.
Context
To integrate care from multiple providers into a coherent and streamlined client-focused service, a large number of activities and agreements have to be implemented like streamlining information flows and adequate transfers of clients. In the large range of possible activities it is often not clear what essential activities are and where to start or continue. Also, knowledge about how to further develop integrated care services is needed. The Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC), based on PhD research of Mirella Minkman, describes nine clusters containing in total 89 elements that contribute to the integration of care. The clusters are named: ‘client-centeredness’, ‘delivery system’, ‘performance management’, ‘quality of care’, ‘result-focused learning’, ‘interprofessional teamwork’, ‘roles and tasks’, ‘commitment’, and ‘transparant entrepreneurship’ [1–3]. In 2011 a new digital webbased self-evolution tool which contains the 89 elements grouped in nine clusters was developed. The DMIC also describes four phases of development [4]. The model is empirically validated in practice by assessing the relevance and implementation of the elements and development phases in 84 integrated care services in The Netherlands: in stroke, acute myocardial infarct (AMI), and dementia services. The validation studies are recently published [5, 6]. In 2011 also other integrated care services started using the model [7]. Vilans developed a digital web-based self-evaluation tool for integrated care services based on the DMIC. A palliative care network, four diabetes services, a youth care service and a network for autism used the self-evaluation tool to evaluate the development of their integrated care service. Because of its generic character, the model and tool are believed to be also interesting internationally.
Data sources
In the workshop we will present the results of three studies in integrated diabetes, youth and palliative care. The three projects consist of multiple steps, see below. Workshop participants could also work with the DMIC following these steps.
One: Preparation of the digital self-evolution tool for integrated care services
Although they are very different, the three integrated care services all wanted to gain insight in their development and improvement opportunities. We tailored the digital self-evaluation tool for each specific integrated care services, but for all the basis was the DMIC. Personal accounts for the digital DMIC self-evalution survey were sent to multiple partners working in each integrated care service (4–16 partners).
Two: Use of the online self-evaluation tool each partner of the local integrated care setting evaluated the integrated care by filling in the web-based questionnaire. The tool consists of three parts (A-C) named: general information about the integrated care practice (A); the clusters and elements of the DMIC (B); and the four phases of development (C). The respondents rated the relevance and presence of each element in their integrated care practice. Respondents were asked to estimate in which phase of development their thought their service was.
Three: Analysing the results
Advisers from Vilans, the Centre of excellence for long-term care in the Netherlands, analysed the self-evolution results in cooperation with the integrated care coordinators. The results show the total amount of implemented integrated care elements per cluster in spider graphs and the development phase as calculated by the DMIC model. Suggestions for further development of the integrated care services were analysed and reported.
Four: Discussing the implications for further development
In a workshop with the local integrated care partners the results of the self-evaluation were presented and discussed. We noticed remarkable results and highlight elements for further development. In addition, we gave advice for further development appropriate to the development phase of the integrated care service. Furthermore, the professionals prioritized the elements and decided which elements to start working on. This resulted in a (quality improvement) plan for the further development of the integrated care service.
Five: Reporting results
In a report all the results of the survey (including consensus scores) and the workshops came together. The integrated care coordinators stated that the reports really helped them to assess their improvement strategy. Also, there was insight in the development phase of their service which gave tools for further development.
Case description
The three cases presented are a palliative network, an integrated diabetes services and an integrated care network for youth in the Netherlands. The palliative care network wanted to reflect on their current development, to build a guiding framework for further development of the network. About sixteen professionals within the network worked with the digital self-evaluation tool and the DMIC: home care organisations, welfare organizations, hospice centres, health care organisations, community organizations.
For diabetes care, a Dutch health care insurance company wished to gain insight in the development of the contracted integrated care services to stimulate further development of the services. Professionals of three diabetes integrated care services were invited to fill in the digital self-evaluation tool. Of each integrated care service professionals like a general practitioner, a diabetes nurse, a medical specialist, a dietician and a podiatrist were invited. In youth care, a local health organisation wondered whether the DMIC could be helpful to visualize the results of youth integrated care services at process- and organisational level. The goal of the project was to define indicators at a process- and organisational level for youth care services based on the DMIC. In the future, these indicators might be used to evaluate youth care integrated care services and improve the quality of youth care within the Netherlands.
Conclusions and discussion
It is important for the quality of integrated care services that the involved coordinators, managers and professionals are aware of the development process of the integrated care service and that they focus on elements which can further develop and improve their integrated care. However, we noticed that integrated care services in the Netherlands experience difficulties in developing their integrated care service. It is often not clear what essential activities are to work on and how to further develop the integrated care service. A guiding framework for the development of integrated care was missing. The DMIC model has been developed for that reason and offers a useful tool for assessment, self-evaluation or improvement of integrated care services in practice. The model has been validated for AMI, dementia and stroke services. The latest new studies in diabetes, palliative care and youth care gave further insight in the generic character of the DMIC. Based on these studies it can be assumed that the DMIC can be used for multiple types of integrated care services. The model is assumed to be interesting for an international audience. Improving integrated care is a complex topic in a large number of countries; the DMIC is also based on the international literature. Dutch integrated care coordinators stated that the DMIC helped them to assess their integrated care development in practice and supported them in obtaining ideas for expanding and improving their integrated care activities.
The web-based self-evaluation tool focuses on a process- and organisational level of integrated care. Also, the self assessed development phase can be compared to the development phase as calculated by the DMIC tool. The cases showed this is fruitful input for discussions. When using the tool, the results can also be used in quality policy reports and improvement plans. The web-based tool is being tested at this moment in practice, but in San Marino we can present the latest webversion and demonstrate with a short video how to use the tool and model. During practical exercises in the workshop the participants will experience how the application of the DMIC can work for them in practice or in research. For integrated care researchers and policy makers, the DMIC questionnaire and tool is a promising method for further research and policy plans in integrated care.
PMCID: PMC3617779
development model for integrated care; development of integrated care services; implementation and improvement of integrated care; self evaluation
4.  Integrated working between residential care homes and primary care: a survey of care homes in England 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:71.
Background
Older people living in care homes in England have complex health needs due to a range of medical conditions, mental health needs and frailty. Despite an increasing policy expectation that professionals should operate in an integrated way across organisational boundaries, there is a lack of understanding between care homes and the National Health Service (NHS) about how the two sectors should work together, meaning that residents can experience a poor "fit" between their needs, and services they can access. This paper describes a survey to establish the current extent of integrated working that exists between care homes and primary and community health and social services.
Methods
A self-completion, online questionnaire was designed by the research team. Items on the different dimensions of integration (funding, administrative, organisational, service delivery, clinical care) were included. The survey was sent to a random sample of residential care homes with more than 25 beds (n = 621) in England in 2009. Responses were analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.
Results
The survey achieved an overall response rate of 15.8%. Most care homes (78.7%) worked with more than one general practice. Respondents indicated that a mean of 14.1 professionals/ services (other than GPs) had visited the care homes in the last six months (SD 5.11, median 14); a mean of .39 (SD.163) professionals/services per bed. The most frequent services visiting were district nursing, chiropody and community psychiatric nurses. Many (60%) managers considered that they worked with the NHS in an integrated way, including sharing documents, engaging in integrated care planning and joint learning and training. However, some care home managers cited working practices dictated by NHS methods of service delivery and priorities for care, rather than those of the care home or residents, a lack of willingness by NHS professionals to share information, and low levels of respect for the experience and knowledge of care home staff.
Conclusions
Care homes are a hub for a wide range of NHS activity, but this is ad hoc with no recognised way to support working together. Integration between care homes and local health services is only really evident at the level of individual working relationships and reflects patterns of collaborative working rather than integration. More integrated working between care homes and primary health services has the potential to improve quality of care in a cost- effective manner, but strategic decisions to create more formal arrangements are required to bring this about. Commissioners of services for older people need to capitalise on good working relationships and address idiosyncratic patterns of provision to care homes.The low response rate is indicative of the difficulty of undertaking research in care homes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-71
PMCID: PMC3534387  PMID: 23151009
5.  A personalized care plan in chronic care: implementation and evaluation 
Purpose
Implementation and evaluation of a personalized care plan for approximately 350 people with (an increased risk of) cardiovascular disease in ten general practices in the Netherlands.
Context
The ‘Healthy Vessels’ (‘Vitale Vaten’) care standard of 2009 describes the optimum care for people with (an increased risk of) cardiovascular disease and is based on the Chronic Care Model. New: working with a personalized care plan, with detailed attention for the promotion of self-management and shared decision-making (SDM). This requires patients to adopt a more active attitude, with a more coaching role from care providers. Vilans has developed the personalized care plan for cardiovascular disease (the booklet ‘Zorgplan Vitale Vaten’) and the personalized care plan for diabetes and for COPD in 2011. In 2011 Vilans also started with the development of a general care plan for patients with multi morbidity diseases.
Data sources
Patients: quantitative survey with a written questionnaire sent to approximately 75 patients. Baseline and end points for 40 patients, plus in-depth interviews with eight patients.
Care providers
Quantitative survey with a written questionnaire sent to 45 care providers. Baseline and end points for 22 care providers, plus in-depth interviews with 10 care providers.
Case description
The personalized care plan is produced by a shared decision-making process and consists of:
A prioritised list of the patient’s SMART objectives
A personalized plan for achieving those objectives
Agreements concerning what the patient will do himself/herself and the support or advice needed
Agreements concerning contact to review the progress (how and when)
The patient or the care provider notes the plan in the patient’s booklet (the ‘Zorgplan Vitale Vaten’=‘Healthy Vessels Care Plan’). This booklet also contains information about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the importance of the patient adopting an active role, measurement values, medication and the patient’s care providers.
Advisers from Vilans, the knowledge centre for long-term care in the Netherlands, provide participating organisations guidance for the implementation of the personalized care plan with: work conferences, supporting products and monthly support phone-calls or e-mails.
The project consists of the following phases:
Jan 2010 to Jun 2010: development of materials
Jun 2010 to Oct 2011: implementation and evaluation in ten general practices
Nov 2011 to Feb 2012: project completion and reporting
The results will be available in February 2012
The study questions in this project are:
What effects does the personalized care plan have on the level of self-management of the patients?
What effects does the personalized care plan have on professionals in a multidisciplinary team?
Do the effects also apply to ethnic minority patients and patients with a low socio-economic status?
(Preliminary) conclusions:
Self-management/Shared Decision Making is difficult to implement. Regular feedback and joint learning are needed.
It is helpful when agreements between the patient and the care provider are made concrete: writing things down makes a difference.
Variable response from patients: ranging from ‘good to know you have something to fall back on’ to ‘the idea of writing down personal objectives makes me feel a bit nervous’.
The personalized care plan does not seem suitable for all, in particular not for the elderly, for those of low socio-economic status, and for ethnic minorities.
Discussion
Health care professionals are used to take care of patients with chronic diseases. They are very willing to help and give patients some advice about how they can prevent a chronic disease or have a good life with a chronic disease. During the conferences and phone calls we have with them, we see that the focus is more on caring instead of sharing and self-management. It frustrates professionals when patients do not behave the way they tell them to. They do not know how to handle or turn the conversation into self-management and rather fall back in their roll of caring. It seems necessary to get feedback on a regular basis so they can explore new ways of self-management support together in a multidisciplinary way.
Self-management support is more successful when professionals are working together, looking for ways to take into account the perspective and expectations of the patient as well as those of the professional. The personalized care plan can help patients and professionals exploring their new roles.
There are some relevant questions concerning personalized care plans in practice which we cannot yet answer. We would like to discuss these essential questions with the participants of INIC12. For example:
How important is it for patients to have a personalized care plan? Does it support them in making decisions concerning their health in daily life? In what way can a digital care plan provide help?
Do professionals improve their caring and communication with patients with chronic diseases when they use a personalized care plan?
Is it more successful when one professional is the central care provider for a patient?
What are good ways for integrating personalized care plans in usual care? Does it take more time in comparison to regular care?
How to create possibilities for professionals so they can regard the personalized care plan as an important topic in chronic care? We see it is difficult for a small group of patients. How to implement the personalized care plan for all the patients with a chronic disease?
What do the answers to these questions mean and does individual care planning change the health care process in such a way that self-management can flourish?
PMCID: PMC3617761
personalized care plan; self-management; vascular risk; multidisciplinary team; chronic care
6.  Systems architecture for integrated care 
Introduction
Telehealth and telecare projects do not always pay enough attention to the wider information systems architecture required to deliver integrated care. They often focus on technologies to support specific diseases or social care problems which can result in information silos that impede integrated care of the patient. While these technologies can deliver discrete benefits, they could potentially generate unintended disbenefits in terms of creating data silos which may cause patient harm or at least impede the ability of the clinician, carer or even patient to treat the patient in an integrated fashion. For instance, if clinical data (vital signs, assessments, medications, allergies) are captured in a telehealth or telecare system, but not integrated with the patient record in the GP or hospital system (or vice versa), then drug or treatment contra-indications could be missed and the patient put at risk.
Architectures
Telehealth and telecare technologies need to be designed and developed within information systems architectures that support the wider objectives of integrated care. Such architectures should be clear about the integration trade-offs implicit in the technology designs between: practical and earlier delivery of benefits in the short-term versus the ability of the care team in the longer-term to treat the whole patient in a patient-centred and fully integrated manner.
Kaiser
There are several types of integrated information systems architectures. One of these is the one deployed by Kaiser Permanente in the US. Kaiser’s information systems architecture contains the following elements: (a) a fully integrated electronic patient record at its core; (b) operation across care settings; (c) patients’ electronic access to their doctor and health record; (d) population care with whole patient chronic care management (for diabetes, COPD, congestive heart failure, asthma, etc.) with a consolidated disease register; (e) development and real-time deployment of embedded clinical protocols; (f) secure access by remote health facilities; (g) centralised technical standards and architecture alongside local developments (“think globally, act locally”); and (i) analytic tools for high volume, complex data.
Integration
Integration architectures range from full functional integration to data interoperability. In full functional integration architectures, the electronic patient record is at the core. This patient record is the detailed (not summary) record and reflects a complex information system supporting the entire clinical process including: review of clinical data (results, images, documents), assessments, documentation and correspondence, requesting tests, prescribing and administering drugs, clinical decision support with real-time alerts, multi-resource scheduling, care plans and integrated care pathways, research and patient access to his/her record.
The fully integrated healthcare systems architecture applies to, and operates across, patients, clinicians, clinical teams, carers, social workers, GPs, community units and hospitals within the geographical community in which the patient lives and receives care.
Conclusion
The recommended actions for UK telehealth and telecare projects are (a) define your systems architecture and its integration road map; (b) deploy road map and revise systems architecture; and (c) repeat to continuously improve information systems support for integrated care.
PMCID: PMC3571169
telehealth; telecare; systems architecture; integrated health care
7.  Physician Emigration from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States: Analysis of the 2011 AMA Physician Masterfile 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001513.
Siankam Tankwanchi and colleagues used the AMA Physician Masterfile and the WHO Global Health Workforce Statistics on physicians in sub-Saharan Africa to determine trends in physician emigration to the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The large-scale emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to high-income nations is a serious development concern. Our objective was to determine current emigration trends of SSA physicians found in the physician workforce of the United States.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed physician data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics along with graduation and residency data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) on physicians trained or born in SSA countries who currently practice in the US. We estimated emigration proportions, year of US entry, years of practice before emigration, and length of time in the US. According to the 2011 AMA-PM, 10,819 physicians were born or trained in 28 SSA countries. Sixty-eight percent (n = 7,370) were SSA-trained, 20% (n = 2,126) were US-trained, and 12% (n = 1,323) were trained outside both SSA and the US. We estimated active physicians (age ≤70 years) to represent 96% (n = 10,377) of the total. Migration trends among SSA-trained physicians increased from 2002 to 2011 for all but one principal source country; the exception was South Africa whose physician migration to the US decreased by 8% (−156). The increase in last-decade migration was >50% in Nigeria (+1,113) and Ghana (+243), >100% in Ethiopia (+274), and >200% (+244) in Sudan. Liberia was the most affected by migration to the US with 77% (n = 175) of its estimated physicians in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, SSA-trained physicians have been in the US for 18 years. They practiced for 6.5 years before US entry, and nearly half emigrated during the implementation years (1984–1999) of the structural adjustment programs.
Conclusion
Physician emigration from SSA to the US is increasing for most SSA source countries. Unless far-reaching policies are implemented by the US and SSA countries, the current emigration trends will persist, and the US will remain a leading destination for SSA physicians emigrating from the continent of greatest need.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Population growth and aging and increasingly complex health care interventions, as well as existing policies and market forces, mean that many countries are facing a shortage of health care professionals. High-income countries are addressing this problem in part by encouraging the immigration of foreign health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries. In the US, for example, international medical graduates (IMGs) can secure visas and permanent residency by passing examinations provided by the Educational Commission of Foreign Medical Graduates and by agreeing to provide care in areas that are underserved by US physicians. Inevitably, the emigration of physicians from low- and middle-income countries undermines health service delivery in the emigrating physicians' country of origin because physician supply is already inadequate in those countries. Physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa, which has only 2% of the global physician workforce but a quarter of the global burden of disease, is particularly worrying. Since 1970, as a result of large-scale emigration and limited medical education, there has been negligible or negative growth in the density of physicians in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, for example, in 1973, there were 7.76 physicians per 100,000 people but by 2008 there were only 1.37 physicians per 100,000 people; in the US, there are 250 physicians per 100,000 people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before policy proposals can be formulated to address global inequities in physician distribution, a clear picture of the patterns of physician emigration from resource-limited countries is needed. In this study, the researchers use data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) to investigate the “brain drain” of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the US. The AMA-PM collects annual demographic, academic, and professional data on all residents (physicians undergoing training in a medical specialty) and licensed physicians who practice in the US.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics and graduation and residency data from the 2011 AMA-PM to estimate physician emigration rates from sub-Saharan African countries, year of US entry, years of service provided before emigration to the US, and length of time in the US. There were 10,819 physicians who were born or trained in 28 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2011 AMA-PM. By using a published analysis of the 2002 AMA-PM, the researchers estimated that US immigration among sub-Saharan African-trained physicians had increased over the past decade for all the countries examined except South Africa, where physician emigration had decreased by 8%. Overall, the number of sub-Saharan African IMGs in the US had increased by 38% since 2002. More than half of this increase was accounted for by Nigerian IMGs. Liberia was the country most affected by migration of its physicians to the US—77% of its estimated 226 physicians were in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, sub-Saharan African IMGs had been in the US for 18 years and had practiced for 6.5 years before emigration. Finally, nearly half of the sub-Saharan African IMGs had migrated to US between 1984 and 1995, years during which structural adjustment programs, which resulted in deep cuts to public health care services, were implemented in developing countries by international financial institutions as conditions for refinancing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the sub-Saharan African IMGs in the 2011 AMA-PM only represent about 1% of all the physicians and less than 5% of the IMGs in the AMA-PM, these findings reveal a major loss of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa. They also suggest that emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa is a growing problem and is likely to continue unless job satisfaction for physicians is improved in their country of origin. Moreover, because the AMA-PM only lists physicians who qualify for a US residency position, more physicians may have moved from sub-Saharan Africa to the US than reported here and may be working in other jobs incommensurate with their medical degrees (“brain waste”). The researchers suggest that physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa to the US reflects the complexities in the labor markets for health care professionals in both Africa and the US and can be seen as low- and middle-income nations subsidizing the education of physicians in high-income countries. Policy proposals to address global inequities in physician distribution will therefore need both to encourage the recruitment, training, and retention of health care professionals in resource-limited countries and to persuade high-income countries to train more home-grown physicians to meet the needs of their own populations.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513.
The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research is a non-profit foundation committed to improving world health through education that was established in 2000 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
The Global Health Workforce Alliance is a partnership of national governments, civil society, international agencies, finance institutions, researchers, educators, and professional associations dedicated to identifying, implementing and advocating for solutions to the chronic global shortage of health care professionals (available in several languages)
Information on the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the providers of physician data lists is available via the American Medical Associations website
The World Health Organization (WHO) annual World Health Statistics reports present the most recent health statistics for the WHO Member States
The Medical Education Partnership Initiative is a US-sponsored initiative that supports medical education and research in sub-Saharan African institutions, aiming to increase the quantity, quality, and retention of graduates with specific skills addressing the health needs of their national populations
CapacityPlus is the USAID-funded global project uniquely focused on the health workforce needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
Seed Global Health cultivates the next generation of health professionals by allying medical and nursing volunteers with their peers in resource-limited settings
"America is Stealing the Worlds Doctors", a 2012 New York Times article by Matt McAllester, describes the personal experience of a young doctor who emigrated from Zambia to the US
Path to United States Practice Is Long Slog to Foreign Doctors, a 2013 New York Times article by Catherine Rampell, describes the hurdles that immigrant physicians face in practicing in the US
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513
PMCID: PMC3775724  PMID: 24068894
8.  Achieving Continuity of Care: Facilitators and Barriers in Community Mental Health Teams 
Background
The integration of mental health and social services for people diagnosed with severe mental illness (SMI) has been a key aspect of attempts to reform mental health services in the UK and aims to minimise user and carer distress and confusion arising from service discontinuities. Community mental health teams (CMHTs) are a key component of UK policy for integrated service delivery, but implementing this policy has raised considerable organisational challenges. The aim of this study was to identify and explore facilitators and barriers perceived to influence continuity of care by health and social care professionals working in and closely associated with CMHTs.
Methods
This study employed a survey design utilising in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a proportionate, random sample of 113 health and social care professionals and representatives of voluntary organisations. Participants worked in two NHS Mental Health Trusts in greater London within eight adult CMHTs and their associated acute in-patient wards, six local general practices, and two voluntary organisations.
Results
Team leadership, decision making, and experiences of teamwork support were facilitators for cross boundary and team continuity; face-to-face communication between teams, managers, general practitioners, and the voluntary sector were facilitators for information continuity. Relational, personal, and longitudinal continuity were facilitated in some local areas by workforce stability. Barriers for cross boundary and team continuity were specific leadership styles and models of decision making, blurred professional role boundaries, generic working, and lack of training for role development. Barriers for relational, personal, and longitudinal continuity were created by inadequate staffing levels, high caseloads, and administrative duties that could limit time spent with users. Incompatibility of information technology systems hindered information continuity. Flexible continuity was challenged by the increasingly complex needs of service users.
Conclusions
Substantive challenges exist in harnessing the benefits of integrated CMHT working to deliver continuity of care. Team support should be prioritised in terms of IT provision linked to a review of current models of administrative support. Investment in education and training for role development, leadership, workforce retention, and skills to meet service users' complex needs are recommended.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-23
PMCID: PMC3073925  PMID: 21418579
9.  Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA): development and evaluation. 
BACKGROUND: Since the early 1990s the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health has explicitly promoted a research and development (R&D) strategy for the National Health Service (NHS). General practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team are in a unique position to undertake research activity that will complement and inform the research undertaken by basic scientists and hospital-based colleagues and lead directly to a better evidence base for decision making by primary care professionals. Opportunities to engage in R&D in primary care are growing and the scope for those wishing to become involved is finally widening. Infrastructure funding for research-active practices and the establishment of a range of support networks have helped to improve the research capacity and blur some of the boundaries between academic departments and clinical practice. This is leading to a supportive environment for primary care research. There is thus a need to develop and validate nationally accepted quality standards and accreditation of performance to ensure that funders, collaborators and primary care professionals can deliver high quality primary care research. Several strategies have been described in national policy documents in order to achieve an improvement in teaching and clinical care, as well as enhancing research capacity in primary care. The development of both research practices and primary care research networks has been recognised as having an important contribution to make in enabling health professionals to devote more protected time to undertake research methods training and to undertake research in a service setting. The recognition and development of primary care research has also brought with it an emphasis on quality and standards, including an approach to the new research governance framework. PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: In 1998, the NHS Executive South and West, and later the London Research and Development Directorate, provided funding for a pilot project based at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a scheme to accredit UK general practices undertaking primary care R&D. The pilot began with initial consultation on the development of the process, as well as the standards and criteria for assessment. The resulting assessment schedule allowed for assessment at one of two levels: Collaborative Research Practice (Level I), with little direct experience of gaining project or infrastructure funding Established Research Practice (Level II), with more experience of research funding and activity and a sound infrastructure to allow for growth in capacity. The process for assessment of practices involved the assessment of written documentation, followed by a half-day assessment visit by a multidisciplinary team of three assessors. IMPLEMENTATION--THE PILOT PROJECT: Pilot practices were sampled in two regions. Firstly, in the NHS Executive South West Region, where over 150 practices expressed an interest in participating. From these a purposive sample of 21 practices was selected, providing a range of research and service activity. A further seven practices were identified and included within the project through the East London and Essex Network of Researchers (ELENoR). Many in this latter group received funding and administrative support and advice from ELENoR in order to prepare written submissions for assessment. Some sample loss was encountered within the pilot project, which was attributable largely to conflicting demands on participants' time. Indeed, the preparation of written submissions within the South West coincided with the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) in April 1999, which several practices cited as having a major impact on their participation in the pilot project. A final sample of 15 practices (nine in the South West and six through ELENoR) underwent assessment through the pilot project. EVALUATION: A formal evaluation of the Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA) pilot was undertaken by an independent researcher (FM). This was supplemented with feedback from the assessment team members. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with assessors, lead researchers and other practice staff within the pilot research practices, as well as members of the project management group, demonstrated a positive view of the pilot scheme. Several key areas were identified in relation to particular strengths of research practices and areas for development including: Strengths Level II practices were found to have a strong primary care team ethos in research. Level II practices tended to have a greater degree of strategic thinking in relation to research. Development areas Level I practices were found to lack a clear and explicit research strategy. Practices at both levels had scope to develop their communication processes for dissemination of research and also for patient involvement. Practices at both levels needed mechanisms for supporting professional development in research methodology. The evaluation demonstrated that practices felt that they had gained from their participation and assessors felt that the scheme had worked well. Some specific issues were raised by different respondents within the qualitative evaluation relating to consistency of interpretation of standards and also the possible overlap of the assessment scheme with other RCGP quality initiatives. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: The pilot project has been very successful and recommendations have been made to progress to a UK scheme. Management and review of the scheme will remain largely the same, with a few changes focusing on the assessment process and support for practices entering the scheme. Specific changes include: development of the support and mentoring role of the primary care research networks increased peer and external support and mentoring for research practices undergoing assessment development of assessor training in line with other schemes within the RCGP Assessment Network work to ensure consistency across RCGP accreditation schemes in relation to key criteria, thereby facilitating comparable assessment processes refinement of the definition of the two groups, with Level I practices referred to as Collaborators and Level II practices as Investigator-Led. The project has continued to generate much enthusiasm and support and continues to reflect current policy. Indeed, recent developments include the proposed new funding arrangements for primary care R&D, which refer to the RCGP assessment scheme and recognise it as a key component in the future R&D agenda. The assessment scheme will help primary care trusts (PCTs) and individual practices to prepare and demonstrate their approach to research governance in a systematic way. It will also provide a more explicit avenue for primary care trusts to explore local service and development priorities identified within health improvement programmes and the research priorities set nationally for the NHS.
PMCID: PMC2560501  PMID: 12049028
10.  Communities as co-producers in integrated care 
Integrated care has become too much a professionals' concept, in research and theory development, as well as in practice, especially in high-income countries. The current debate on integrated care is dominated by norms and values of professionals, while most of the care is provided by non-professionals. The paradigms of integrated care for people with complex needs need to be reconsidered. It is argued that non-professional care and care by local communities need to be incorporated as a resource and a co-producer of care. It seems fair to assume that the community as such can take a more prominent role in organising and delivering health and long-term care. This implies redefining professional and non-professional responsibilities and boundaries. The boundary between public and private space is losing its significance, as is the distinction between formal and non-formal care. It also requires renegotiating and transforming organisational boundaries. This has consequences for legislation, funding and professional qualifications, as well as for management and governance. It challenges current professional identities as well as identities of service users, their informal carers and citizens. It may also require new types of funding, including non-monetary currencies, time-sharing and social impact bonds. The challenge is that big, that it needs to be addressed at its smallest scale: the citizen in his social network and local community, being co-producer of really integrated care.
PMCID: PMC4079094  PMID: 24991196
integrated care; community; co-producer; professional
11.  Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care: lessons from the theory of communities of practice 
Background
The paper combines the analytical and instrumental perspectives on communities of practice (CoPs) to reflect on potential challenges that may arise in the process of interprofessional and inter-organisational joint working within the Collaborations for Leaderships in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs)--partnerships between the universities and National Health Service (NHS) Trusts aimed at conducting applied health research and translating its findings into day-to-day clinical practice.
Discussion
The paper discusses seminal theoretical literature on CoPs as well as previous empirical research on the role of these communities in healthcare collaboration, which is organised around the following three themes: knowledge sharing within and across CoPs, CoP formation and manageability, and identity building in CoPs. It argues that the multiprofessional and multi-agency nature of the CLAHRCs operating in the traditionally demarcated organisational landscape of the NHS may present formidable obstacles to knowledge sharing between various professional groupings, formation of a shared 'collaborative' identity, and the development of new communities within the CLAHRCs. To cross multiple boundaries between various professional and organisational communities and hence enable the flow of knowledge, the CLAHRCs will have to create an effective system of 'bridges' involving knowledge brokers, boundary objects, and cross-disciplinary interactions as well as address a number of issues related to professional and organisational identification.
Summary
The CoP approach can complement traditional 'stage-of-change' theories used in the field of implementation research and provide a basis for designing theory-informed interventions and evaluations. It can help to illuminate multiple boundaries that exist between professional and organisational groups within the CLAHRCs and suggest ways of crossing those boundaries to enable knowledge transfer and organisational learning. Achieving the aims of the CLAHRCs and producing a sustainable change in the ways applied health research is conducted and implemented may be influenced by how effectively these organisations can navigate through the multiple CoPs involved and promote the development of new multiprofessional and multi-organisational communities united by shared practice and a shared sense of belonging--an assumption that needs to be explored by further empirical research.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-64
PMCID: PMC3130688  PMID: 21699712
12.  Case management for casualties of war 
Purpose
To describe how case management can improve the transition between services for returning servicemen injured in war zones who often have very complex and multiple injuries.
Context
Reviews a project undertaken for the Ministry of Defence in the UK.
Data sources
Case management across secondary and primary care—studies; Literature relating to care of casualties from war zones; Statistical evidence on casualty numbers and type of injuries.
Case description
This presentation will focus on the care of injured personnel evacuated back to the UK. Case management is to be implemented to improve the patient care pathway and make the transition between war zone, hospital and primary care fully integrated.
(Preliminary) conclusions/Discussion
Care is often not co-ordinated, systems inadequate and patients returning as operational casualties have particular needs in terms of health care delivery which can be overlooked, particularly in relation to mental health needs. Case management provides a structured and co-ordinated pathway between the different services to enable continuity, a smooth transition and improve patient outcomes. However, implementation of case management will present many challenges in this environment as the case managers works with the service personnel within an NHS model of health care delivery. Within the NHS alone, integration is difficult as case managers strive to manage organisational differences between health and social care. When you add on the complexity of service personnel who have been injured whilst in a war zone, cross boundary working becomes even more difficult to manage effectively. Case management has the potential to be the one link that brings services together in a fully integrated way.
PMCID: PMC2807093
case management; war casualties
13.  e-Health, m-Health and healthier social media reform: the big scale view 
Introduction
In the upcoming decade, digital platforms will be the backbone of a strategic revolution in the way medical services are provided, affecting both healthcare providers and patients. Digital-based patient-centered healthcare services allow patients to actively participate in managing their own care, in times of health as well as illness, using personally tailored interactive tools. Such empowerment is expected to increase patients’ willingness to adopt actions and lifestyles that promote health as well as improve follow-up and compliance with treatment in cases of chronic illness. Clalit Health Services (CHS) is the largest HMO in Israel and second largest world-wide. Through its 14 hospitals, 1300 primary and specialized clinics, and 650 pharmacies, CHS provides comprehensive medical care to the majority of Israel’s population (above 4 million members). CHS e-Health wing focuses on deepening patient involvement in managing health, through personalized digital interactive tools. Currently, CHS e-Health wing provides e-health services for 1.56 million unique patients monthly with 2.4 million interactions every month (August 2011). Successful implementation of e-Health solutions is not a sum of technology, innovation and health; rather it’s the expertise of tailoring knowledge and leadership capabilities in multidisciplinary areas: clinical, ethical, psychological, legal, comprehension of patient and medical team engagement etc. The Google Health case excellently demonstrates this point. On the other hand, our success with CHS is a demonstration that e-Health can be enrolled effectively and fast with huge benefits for both patients and medical teams, and with a robust business model.
CHS e-Health core components
They include:
1. The personal health record layer (what the patient can see) presents patients with their own medical history as well as the medical history of their preadult children, including diagnoses, allergies, vaccinations, laboratory results with interpretations in layman’s terms, medications with clear, straightforward explanations regarding dosing instructions, important side effects, contraindications, such as lactation etc., and other important medical information. All personal e-Health services require identification and authorization.
2. The personal knowledge layer (what the patient should know) presents patients with personally tailored recommendations for preventative medicine and health promotion. For example, diabetic patients are push notified regarding their yearly eye exam. The various health recommendations include: occult blood testing, mammography, lipid profile etc. Each recommendation contains textual, visual and interactive content components in order to promote engagement and motivate the patient to actually change his health behaviour.
3. The personal health services layer (what the patient can do) enables patients to schedule clinic visits, order chronic prescriptions, e-consult their physician via secured e-mail, set SMS medication reminders, e-consult a pharmacist regarding personal medications. Consultants’ answers are sent securely to the patients’ personal mobile device.
On December 2009 CHS launched secured, web based, synchronous medical consultation via video conference. Currently 11,780 e-visits are performed monthly (May 2011). The medical encounter includes e-prescription and referral capabilities which are biometrically signed by the physician. On December 2010 CHS launched a unique mobile health platform, which is one of the most comprehensive personal m-Health applications world-wide. An essential advantage of mobile devices is their potential to bridge the digital divide. Currently, CHS m-Health platform is used by more than 45,000 unique users, with 75,000 laboratory results views/month, 1100 m-consultations/month and 9000 physician visit scheduling/month.
4. The Bio-Sensing layer (what physiological data the patient can populate) includes diagnostic means that allow remote physical examination, bio-sensors that broadcast various physiological measurements, and smart homecare devices, such as e-Pill boxes that gives seniors, patients and their caregivers the ability to stay at home and live life to its fullest. Monitored data is automatically transmitted to the patient’s Personal Health Record and to relevant medical personnel.
The monitoring layer is embedded in the chronic disease management platform, and in the interactive health promotion and wellness platform. It includes tailoring of consumer-oriented medical devices and service provided by various professional personnel—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and more.
5. The Social layer (what the patient can share). Social media networks triggered an essential change at the humanity ‘genome’ level, yet to be further defined in the upcoming years. Social media has huge potential in promoting health as it combines fun, simple yet extraordinary user experience, and bio-social-feedback. There are two major challenges in leveraging health care through social networks:
a. Our personal health information is the cornerstone for personalizing healthier lifestyle, disease management and preventative medicine. We naturally see our personal health data as a super-private territory. So, how do we bring the power of our private health information, currently locked within our Personal Health Record, into social media networks without offending basic privacy issues?
b. Disease management and preventive medicine are currently neither considered ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’ or ‘potentially highly viral’ activities; yet, health is a major issue of everybody’s life. It seems like we are missing a crucial element with a huge potential in health behavioural change—the Fun Theory. Social media platforms comprehends user experience tools that potentially could break current misconception, and engage people in the daily task of taking better care of themselves.
CHS e-Health innovation team characterized several break-through applications in this unexplored territory within social media networks, fusing personal health and social media platforms without offending privacy. One of the most crucial issues regarding adoption of e-health and m-health platforms is change management. Being a ‘hot’ innovative ‘gadget’ is far from sufficient for changing health behaviours at the individual and population levels.
CHS health behaviour change management methodology includes 4 core elements:
1. Engaging two completely different populations: patients, and medical teams. e-Health applications must present true added value for both medical teams and patients, engaging them through understanding and assimilating “what’s really in it for me”. Medical teams are further subdivided into physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel—each with their own driving incentive. Resistance to change is an obstacle in many fields but it is particularly true in the conservative health industry. To successfully manage a large scale persuasive process, we treat intra-organizational human resources as “Change Agents”. Harnessing the persuasive power of ~40,000 employees requires engaging them as the primary target group. Successful recruitment has the potential of converting each patient-medical team interaction into an exposure opportunity to the new era of participatory medicine via e-health and m-health channels.
2. Implementation waves: every group of digital health products that are released at the same time are seen as one project. Each implementation wave leverages the focus of the organization and target populations to a defined time span. There are three major and three minor implementation waves a year.
3. Change-Support Arrow: a structured infrastructure for every implementation wave. The sub-stages in this strategy include:
Cross organizational mapping and identification of early adopters and stakeholders relevant to the implementation wave
Mapping positive or negative perceptions and designing specific marketing approaches for the distinct target groups
Intra and extra organizational marketing
Conducting intensive training and presentation sessions for groups of implementers
Running conflict-prevention activities, such as advanced tackling of potential union resistance
Training change-agents with resistance-management behavioural techniques, focused intervention for specific incidents and for key opinion leaders
Extensive presence in the clinics during the launch period, etc.
The entire process is monitored and managed continuously by a review team.
4. Closing Phase: each wave is analyzed and a “lessons-learned” session concludes the changes required in the modus operandi of the e-health project team.
PMCID: PMC3571141
e-Health; mobile health; personal health record; online visit; patient empowerment; knowledge prescription
14.  The challenge of social networking in the field of environment and health 
Environmental Health  2012;11(Suppl 1):S15.
Background
The fields of environment and health are both interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary, and until recently had little engagement in social networking designed to cross disciplinary boundaries. The EU FP6 project HENVINET aimed to establish integrated social network and networking facilities for multiple stakeholders in environment and health. The underlying assumption is that increased social networking across disciplines and sectors will enhance the quality of both problem knowledge and problem solving, by facilitating interactions. Inter- and trans-disciplinary networks are considered useful for this purpose. This does not mean that such networks are easily organized, as openness to such cooperation and exchange is often difficult to ascertain.
Methods
Different methods may enhance network building. Using a mixed method approach, a diversity of actions were used in order to investigate the main research question: which kind of social networking activities and structures can best support the objective of enhanced inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation and exchange in the fields of environment and health. HENVINET applied interviews, a role playing session, a personal response system, a stakeholder workshop and a social networking portal as part of the process of building an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary network.
Results
The interviews provided support for the specification of requirements for an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary network. The role playing session, the personal response system and the stakeholder workshop were assessed as useful tools in forming such network, by increasing the awareness by different disciplines of other’s positions. The social networking portal was particularly useful in delivering knowledge, but the role of the scientist in social networking is not yet clear.
Conclusions
The main challenge in the field of environment and health is not so much a lack of scientific problem knowledge, but rather the ability to effectively communicate, share and use available knowledge for policy making. Structured social network facilities can be useful by policy makers to engage with the research community. It is beneficial for scientists to be able to integrate the perspective of policy makers in the research agenda, and to assist in co-production of policy-relevant information. A diversity of methods need to be applied for network building: according to the fit-for-purpose-principle. It is useful to know which combination of methods and in which time frame produces the best results.
Networking projects such as HENVINET are created not only for the benefit of the network itself, but also because the applying of the different methods is a learning tool for future network building. Finally, it is clear that the importance of specialized professionals in enabling effective communication between different groups should not be underestimated.
doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-S1-S15
PMCID: PMC3388437  PMID: 22759497
15.  Integrating telecare for chronic disease management in the community: What needs to be done? 
Background
Telecare could greatly facilitate chronic disease management in the community, but despite government promotion and positive demonstrations its implementation has been limited. This study aimed to identify factors inhibiting the implementation and integration of telecare systems for chronic disease management in the community.
Methods
Large scale comparative study employing qualitative data collection techniques: semi-structured interviews with key informants, task-groups, and workshops; framework analysis of qualitative data informed by Normalization Process Theory. Drawn from telecare services in community and domestic settings in England and Scotland, 221 participants were included, consisting of health professionals and managers; patients and carers; social care professionals and managers; and service suppliers and manufacturers.
Results
Key barriers to telecare integration were uncertainties about coherent and sustainable service and business models; lack of coordination across social and primary care boundaries, lack of financial or other incentives to include telecare within primary care services; a lack of a sense of continuity with previous service provision and self-care work undertaken by patients; and general uncertainty about the adequacy of telecare systems. These problems led to poor integration of policy and practice.
Conclusion
Telecare services may offer a cost effective and safe form of care for some people living with chronic illness. Slow and uneven implementation and integration do not stem from problems of adoption. They result from incomplete understanding of the role of telecare systems and subsequent adaption and embeddedness to context, and uncertainties about the best way to develop, coordinate, and sustain services that assist with chronic disease management. Interventions are therefore needed that (i) reduce uncertainty about the ownership of implementation processes and that lock together health and social care agencies; and (ii) ensure user centred rather than biomedical/service-centred models of care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-131
PMCID: PMC3116473  PMID: 21619596
16.  Outcome mapping for health system integration 
Health systems around the world are implementing integrated care strategies to improve quality, reduce or maintain costs, and improve the patient experience. Yet few practical tools exist to aid leaders and managers in building the prerequisites to integrated care, namely a shared vision, clear roles and responsibilities, and a common understanding of how the vision will be realized. Outcome mapping may facilitate stakeholder alignment on the vision, roles, and processes of integrated care delivery via participative and focused dialogue among diverse stakeholders on desired outcomes and enabling actions. In this paper, we describe an outcome-mapping exercise we conducted at a Local Health Integration Network in Ontario, Canada, using consensus development conferences. Our preliminary findings suggest that outcome mapping may help stakeholders make sense of a complex system and foster collaborative capital, a resource that can support information sharing, trust, and coordinated change toward integration across organizational and professional boundaries. Drawing from the theoretical perspectives of complex adaptive systems and collaborative capital, we also outline recommendations for future outcome-mapping exercises. In particular, we emphasize the potential for outcome mapping to be used as a tool not only for identifying and linking strategic outcomes and actions, but also for studying the boundaries, gaps, and ties that characterize social networks across the continuum of care.
doi:10.2147/JMDH.S41575
PMCID: PMC3603332  PMID: 23526058
integrated care; integrated delivery systems; complex adaptive systems; social capital; collaborative capital
17.  Embedding effective depression care: using theory for primary care organisational and systems change 
Background
Depression and related disorders represent a significant part of general practitioners (GPs) daily work. Implementing the evidence about what works for depression care into routine practice presents a challenge for researchers and service designers. The emerging consensus is that the transfer of efficacious interventions into routine practice is strongly linked to how well the interventions are based upon theory and take into account the contextual factors of the setting into which they are to be transferred. We set out to develop a conceptual framework to guide change and the implementation of best practice depression care in the primary care setting.
Methods
We used a mixed method, observational approach to gather data about routine depression care in a range of primary care settings via: audit of electronic health records; observation of routine clinical care; and structured, facilitated whole of organisation meetings. Audit data were summarised using simple descriptive statistics. Observational data were collected using field notes. Organisational meetings were audio taped and transcribed. All the data sets were grouped, by organisation, and considered as a whole case. Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) was identified as an analytical theory to guide the conceptual framework development.
Results
Five privately owned primary care organisations (general practices) and one community health centre took part over the course of 18 months. We successfully developed a conceptual framework for implementing an effective model of depression care based on the four constructs of NPT: coherence, which proposes that depression work requires the conceptualisation of boundaries of who is depressed and who is not depressed and techniques for dealing with diffuseness; cognitive participation, which proposes that depression work requires engagement with a shared set of techniques that deal with depression as a health problem; collective action, which proposes that agreement is reached about how care is organised; and reflexive monitoring, which proposes that depression work requires agreement about how depression work will be monitored at the patient and practice level. We describe how these constructs can be used to guide the design and implementation of effective depression care in a way that can take account of contextual differences.
Conclusions
Ideas about what is required for an effective model and system of depression care in primary care need to be accompanied by theoretically informed frameworks that consider how these can be implemented. The conceptual framework we have presented can be used to guide organisational and system change to develop common language around each construct between policy makers, service users, professionals, and researchers. This shared understanding across groups is fundamental to the effective implementation of change in primary care for depression.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-62
PMCID: PMC2925331  PMID: 20687962
18.  ‘Talking a different language’: an exploration of the influence of organizational cultures and working practices on transition from child to adult mental health services 
Background
Organizational culture is manifest in patterns of behaviour underpinned by beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions, which can influence working practices. Cultural factors and working practices have been suggested to influence the transition of young people moving from child to adult mental health services. Failure to manage and integrate transitional care effectively can lead to young people losing contact with health and social care systems, resulting in adverse effects on health, well-being and potential.
Methods
The study aim was to identify the organisational factors which facilitate or impede transition of young people from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult mental health services (AMHS) from the perspective of health professionals and representatives of voluntary organisations. Specific objectives were (i) to explore organizational cultures, structures, processes and resources which influence transition from child to adult mental health services; (ii) identify factors which constitute barriers and facilitators to transition and continuity of care and (iii) make recommendations for service improvements. Within an exploratory, qualitative design thirty four semi-structured interviews were conducted with health and social care professionals working in CAMHS and AMHS in four NHS Mental Health Trusts and four voluntary organizations, in England.
Results
A cultural divide appears to exist between CAMHS and AMHS, characterized by different beliefs, attitudes, mutual misperceptions and a lack of understanding of different service structures. This is exacerbated by working practices relating to communication and information transfer which could impact negatively on transition, relational, informational and cross boundary continuity of care. There is also evidence of a cultural shift, with some positive approaches to collaborative working across services and agencies, involving joint posts, parallel working, shared clinics and joint meetings.
Conclusions
Cultural factors embodied in mutual misperceptions, attitudes, beliefs exist between CAMHS and AMHS. Working practices can exert either positive or negative effects on transition and continuity of care. Implementation of shared education and training, standardised approaches to record keeping and information transfer, supported by compatible IT resources are recommended, alongside management strategies which evaluate the achievement of outcomes related to transition and continuity of care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-254
PMCID: PMC3707757  PMID: 23822089
Transition; Culture; Working practices; Care continuity; Mental health
19.  The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000387.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report the findings of their systematic overview that assessed the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care.
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital solutions to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Implementations of transformative eHealth technologies are underway globally, often at very considerable cost. In order to assess the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care, and to inform policy decisions on eHealth deployments, we undertook a systematic review of systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness and consequences of various eHealth technologies on the quality and safety of care.
Methods and Findings
We developed novel search strategies, conceptual maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions, and then systematically identified, scrutinised, and synthesised the systematic review literature. Major biomedical databases were searched to identify systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010. Related theoretical, methodological, and technical material was also reviewed. We identified 53 systematic reviews that focused on assessing the impact of eHealth interventions on the quality and/or safety of health care and 55 supplementary systematic reviews providing relevant supportive information. This systematic review literature was found to be generally of substandard quality with regards to methodology, reporting, and utility. We thematically categorised eHealth technologies into three main areas: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. We found that despite support from policymakers, there was relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made in relation to these technologies. Whether the success of those relatively few solutions identified to improve quality and safety would continue if these were deployed beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed, has yet to be established. Importantly, best practice guidelines in effective development and deployment strategies are lacking.
Conclusions
There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given. In the light of the paucity of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, it is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle. Such evaluation should be characterised by careful attention to socio-technical factors to maximise the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital health care solutions, often referred to as eHealth—the use of information and communication technologies—to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Often accompanied by large costs, any large-scale expenditure on eHealth—such as electronic health records, picture archiving and communication systems, ePrescribing, associated computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems—has tended to be justified on the grounds that these are efficient and cost-effective means for improving health care. In 2005, the World Health Assembly passed an eHealth resolution (WHA 58.28) that acknowledged, “eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research,” and urged member states to develop and implement eHealth technologies. Since then, implementing eHealth technologies has become a main priority for many countries. For example, England has invested at least £12.8 billion in a National Programme for Information Technology for the National Health Service, and the Obama administration in the United States has committed to a US$38 billion eHealth investment in health care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite the wide endorsement of and support for eHealth, the scientific basis of its benefits—which are repeatedly made and often uncritically accepted—remains to be firmly established. A robust evidence-based perspective on the advantages on eHealth could help to suggest priority areas that have the greatest potential for benefit to patients and also to inform international eHealth deliberations on costs. Therefore, in order to better inform the international community, the authors systematically reviewed the published systematic review literature on eHealth technologies and evaluated the impact of these technologies on the quality and safety of health care delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers divided eHealth technologies into three main categories: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. Then, implementing methods based on those developed by the Cochrane Collaboration and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the researchers used detailed search strategies and maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions to identify relevant systematic reviews (and related theoretical, methodological, and technical material) published between 1997 and 2010. Using these techniques, the researchers retrieved a total of 46,349 references from which they identified 108 reviews. The 53 reviews that the researchers finally selected (and critically reviewed) provided the main evidence base for assessing the impact of eHealth technologies in the three categories selected.
In their systematic review of systematic reviews, the researchers included electronic health records and picture archiving communications systems in their evaluation of category 1, computerized provider (or physician) order entry and e-prescribing in category 2, and all clinical information systems that, when used in the context of eHealth technologies, integrate clinical and demographic patient information to support clinician decision making in category 3.
The researchers found that many of the clinical claims made about the most commonly used eHealth technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. The evidence base in support of eHealth technologies was weak and inconsistent and importantly, there was insubstantial evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. For example, the researchers only found limited evidence that some of the many presumed benefits could be realized; importantly, they also found some evidence that introducing these new technologies may on occasions also generate new risks such as prescribers becoming over-reliant on clinical decision support for e-prescribing, or overestimate its functionality, resulting in decreased practitioner performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that despite the wide support for eHealth technologies and the frequently made claims by policy makers when constructing business cases to raise funds for large-scale eHealth projects, there is as yet relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made about eHealth technologies. In addition, even for the eHealth technology tools that have proven to be successful, there is little evidence to show that such tools would continue to be successful beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, the authors say that future eHealth technologies should be evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle, and include socio-technical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption in a given context. Furthermore, it is equally important that eHealth projects that have already been commissioned are subject to rigorous, multidisciplinary, and independent evaluation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387.
The authors' broader study is: Car J, Black A, Anandan C, Cresswell K, Pagliari C, McKinstry B, et al. (2008) The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Healthcare. Available at: http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/001.shtml
More information is available on the World Health Assembly eHealth resolution
The World Health Organization provides information at the Global Observatory on eHealth, as well as a global insight into eHealth developments
The European Commission provides Information on eHealth in Europe and some examples of good eHealth practice
More information is provided on NHS Connecting for Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387
PMCID: PMC3022523  PMID: 21267058
20.  ‘Trying to do a jigsaw without the picture on the box’: understanding the challenges of care integration in the context of single assessment for older people in England 
Introduction
Demographic ageing is one of the major challenges for governments in developed countries because older people are the main users of health and social care services. More joined-up, partnership approaches supported by information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become key to managing these demands. This article discusses recent developments towards integrated care in the context of one of the arenas in which integration is being attempted, the Single Assessment Process (SAP) to support the care for older people in England. It draws upon accounts of local SAP implementations in order to assess and reflect upon some of the successes and limitations of service integration enabled by ICTs.
Description of care practice
At the Department of Health in England, policy and strategy are directed at the integration of services through a ‘whole systems’ approach, with services that are interdependent upon one another and organised around the person that uses them. The Single Assessment Processes (SAP) is an instance of inter-organisational and cross-sectoral sharing of information intended to improve communication and coordination amongst professions and agencies and so support more integrated care. The aim of SAP is to ensure that older people receive appropriate, effective and timely responses to their health and social care needs and that professionals do not duplicate each others efforts. This article examines examples from two programmes of work within the context of SAP in England: one with the direction coming from local government social services, the other where the momentum is coming from the National Health Service (NHS).
Conclusion and discussion
Both examples show that the policy and practice of ICT-supported integration continues to represent a significant challenge. Although the notion of integrated care underpinned by ICT-enabled information sharing is persuasive, it has limitations in practice. The notion of an ‘open systems’ approach is proposed as an alternative way of improving communication and coordination across the domains of health and social care.
PMCID: PMC1919411  PMID: 17637871
21.  Social support needs for equity in health and social care: a thematic analysis of experiences of people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis 
Background
Needs-based resource allocation is fundamental to equitable care provision, which can meet the often-complex, fluctuating needs of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). This has posed challenges both for those providing and those seeking support providers, in building shared understanding of the condition and of actions to address it. This qualitative study reports on needs for equity in health and social care expressed by adults living with CFS/ME.
Methods
The participants were 35 adults with CFS/ME in England, purposively selected to provide variation in clinical presentations, social backgrounds and illness experiences. Accounts of experienced needs and needs-related encounters with health and social services were obtained through a focus group (n = 6) and semi-structured interviews (n = 35). These were transcribed and needs related topics identified through data-led thematic analysis.
Findings
Participants emphasised needs for personalised, timely and sustained support to alleviate CFS/ME impacts and regain life control, in three thematic areas: (1) Illness symptoms, functional limitations and illness management; (2) practical support and social care; (3) financial support. Access of people with CFS/ME to support from health and social services was seen to be constrained by barriers stemming from social, cultural, organisational and professional norms and practices, further heightened for disadvantaged groups including some ethnic minorities. These reduced opportunities for their illness to be explained or associated functional limitations and social disadvantages to be addressed through social support. Participants sought more understanding of bio-psycho-social aspects of CFS/ME, of felt needs of people with CFS/ME and of human rights and disability rights, for providing person-centred, equitable care.
Conclusions
Changes in attitudes of health practitioners, policy makers and general public and more flexibly organised health and social care provision are needed to address equity issues in support needs expressed by people with CFS/ME, to be underpinned by research-based knowledge and communication, for public and professional education. Policy development should include shared decision-making and coordinated action across organizations working for people with CFS/ME, human rights and disadvantaged groups. Experiences of people with CFS/ME can usefully inform an understanding of equity in their health and social care.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-46
PMCID: PMC3229491  PMID: 22044797
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; thematic analysis; social support; experiences; recognition; social welfare
22.  Growing a Professional Network to Over 3000 Members in Less Than 4 Years: Evaluation of InspireNet, British Columbia’s Virtual Nursing Health Services Research Network 
Background
Use of Web 2.0 and social media technologies has become a new area of research among health professionals. Much of this work has focused on the use of technologies for health self-management and the ways technologies support communication between care providers and consumers. This paper addresses a new use of technology in providing a platform for health professionals to support professional development, increase knowledge utilization, and promote formal/informal professional communication. Specifically, we report on factors necessary to attract and sustain health professionals’ use of a network designed to increase nurses’ interest in and use of health services research and to support knowledge utilization activities in British Columbia, Canada.
Objective
“InspireNet”, a virtual professional network for health professionals, is a living laboratory permitting documentation of when and how professionals take up Web 2.0 and social media. Ongoing evaluation documents our experiences in establishing, operating, and evaluating this network.
Methods
Overall evaluation methods included (1) tracking website use, (2) conducting two member surveys, and (3) soliciting member feedback through focus groups and interviews with those who participated in electronic communities of practice (eCoPs) and other stakeholders. These data have been used to learn about the types of support that seem relevant to network growth.
Results
Network growth exceeded all expectations. Members engaged with varying aspects of the network’s virtual technologies, such as teams of professionals sharing a common interest, research teams conducting their work, and instructional webinars open to network members. Members used wikis, blogs, and discussion groups to support professional work, as well as a members’ database with contact information and areas of interest. The database is accessed approximately 10 times per day. InspireNet public blog posts are accessed roughly 500 times each. At the time of writing, 21 research teams conduct their work virtually using the InspireNet platform; 10 topic-based Action Teams meet to address issues of mutual concern. Nursing and other health professionals, even those who rated themselves as computer literate, required significant mentoring and support in their efforts to adopt their practice to a virtual environment. There was a steep learning curve for professionals to learn to work in a virtual environment and to benefit from the available technologies.
Conclusions
Virtual professional networks can be positioned to make a significant contribution to ongoing professional practice and to creating environments supportive of information sharing, mentoring, and learning across geographical boundaries. Nonetheless, creation of a Web 2.0 and social media platform is not sufficient, in and of itself, to attract or sustain a vibrant community of professionals interested in improving their practice. Essential support includes instruction in the use of Web-based activities and time management, a biweekly e-Newsletter, regular communication from leaders, and an annual face-to-face conference.
doi:10.2196/jmir.3018
PMCID: PMC3961696  PMID: 24566806
social networking; social media; nursing; health services; research; education
23.  Uncovering Treatment Burden as a Key Concept for Stroke Care: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001473.
In a systematic review of qualitative research, Katie Gallacher and colleagues examine the evidence related to treatment burden after stroke from the patient perspective.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Patients with chronic disease may experience complicated management plans requiring significant personal investment. This has been termed ‘treatment burden’ and has been associated with unfavourable outcomes. The aim of this systematic review is to examine the qualitative literature on treatment burden in stroke from the patient perspective.
Methods and Findings
The search strategy centred on: stroke, treatment burden, patient experience, and qualitative methods. We searched: Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, Medline, and PsycINFO. We tracked references, footnotes, and citations. Restrictions included: English language, date of publication January 2000 until February 2013. Two reviewers independently carried out the following: paper screening, data extraction, and data analysis. Data were analysed using framework synthesis, as informed by Normalization Process Theory. Sixty-nine papers were included. Treatment burden includes: (1) making sense of stroke management and planning care, (2) interacting with others, (3) enacting management strategies, and (4) reflecting on management. Health care is fragmented, with poor communication between patient and health care providers. Patients report inadequate information provision. Inpatient care is unsatisfactory, with a perceived lack of empathy from professionals and a shortage of stimulating activities on the ward. Discharge services are poorly coordinated, and accessing health and social care in the community is difficult. The study has potential limitations because it was restricted to studies published in English only and data from low-income countries were scarce.
Conclusions
Stroke management is extremely demanding for patients, and treatment burden is influenced by micro and macro organisation of health services. Knowledge deficits mean patients are ill equipped to organise their care and develop coping strategies, making adherence less likely. There is a need to transform the approach to care provision so that services are configured to prioritise patient needs rather than those of health care systems.
Systematic Review Registration
International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42011001123
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. About 5 million of these people die within a few days, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the blood supply of the brain is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help individuals overcome the physical disabilities caused by stroke, and drugs that thin the blood, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol (major risk factors for stroke) alongside behavioral counseling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Treatment for, and rehabilitation from, stroke is a lengthy process that requires considerable personal investment from the patient. The term “treatment burden” describes the self-care practices that patients with stroke and other chronic diseases must perform to follow the complicated management strategies that have been developed for these conditions. Unfortunately, treatment burden can overwhelm patients. They may be unable to cope with the multiple demands placed on them by health-care providers and systems for their self-care, a situation that leads to poor adherence to therapies and poor outcomes. For example, patients may find it hard to complete all the exercises designed to help them regain full movement of their limbs after a stroke. Treatment burden has been poorly examined in relation to stroke. Here, the researchers identify and describe the treatment burden in stroke by undertaking a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the literature on a given topic) of qualitative studies on the patient experience of stroke management. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on stroke treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes between those receiving and not receiving the treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 69 qualitative studies dealing with the experiences of stroke management of adult patients and analyzed the data in these papers using framework synthesis—an approach that divides data into thematic categories. Specifically, the researchers used a coding framework informed by normalization process theory, a sociological theory of the implementation, embedding and integration of tasks and practices; embedding is the process of making tasks and practices a routine part of everyday life and integration refers to sustaining these embedded practices. The researchers identified four main areas of treatment burden for stroke: making sense of stroke management and planning care; interacting with others, including health care professionals, family and other patients with stroke; enacting management strategies (including enduring institutional admissions, managing stroke in the community, reintegrating into society and adjusting to life after stroke); and reflecting on management to make decisions about self-care. Moreover, they identified problems in all these areas, including inadequate provision of information, poor communication with health-care providers, and unsatisfactory inpatient care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that stroke management is extremely demanding for patients and is influenced by both the micro and macro organization of health services. At the micro organizational level, fragmented care and poor communication between patients and clinicians and between health-care providers can mean patients are ill equipped to organize their care and develop coping strategies, which makes adherence to management strategies less likely. At the macro organizational level, it can be hard for patients to obtain the practical and financial help they need to manage their stroke in the community. Overall, these findings suggest that care provision for stroke needs to be transformed so that the needs of patients rather than the needs of health-care systems are prioritized. Further work is required, however, to understand how the patient experience of treatment burden is affected by the clinical characteristics of stroke, by disability level, and by other co-existing diseases. By undertaking such work, it should be possible to generate a patient-reported outcome measure of treatment burden that, if used by policy makers and health-care providers, has the potential to improve the quality of stroke care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
Wikipedia provides information on the burden of treatment and on the normalization process theory (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473
PMCID: PMC3692487  PMID: 23824703
24.  Diabetes Management Using Modern Information and Communication Technologies and New Care Models 
Background
Diabetes, a metabolic disorder, has reached epidemic proportions in developed countries. The disease has two main forms: type 1 and type 2. Disease management entails administration of insulin in combination with careful blood glucose monitoring (type 1) or involves the adjustment of diet and exercise level, the use of oral anti-diabetic drugs, and insulin administration to control blood sugar (type 2).
Objective
State-of-the-art technologies have the potential to assist healthcare professionals, patients, and informal carers to better manage diabetes insulin therapy, help patients understand their disease, support self-management, and provide a safe environment by monitoring adverse and potentially life-threatening situations with appropriate crisis management.
Methods
New care models incorporating advanced information and communication technologies have the potential to provide service platforms able to improve health care, personalization, inclusion, and empowerment of the patient, and to support diverse user preferences and needs in different countries. The REACTION project proposes to create a service-oriented architectural platform based on numerous individual services and implementing novel care models that can be deployed in different settings to perform patient monitoring, distributed decision support, health care workflow management, and clinical feedback provision.
Results
This paper presents the work performed in the context of the REACTION project focusing on the development of a health care service platform able to support diabetes management in different healthcare regimes, through clinical applications, such as monitoring of vital signs, feedback provision to the point of care, integrative risk assessment, and event and alarm handling. While moving towards the full implementation of the platform, three major areas of research and development have been identified and consequently approached: the first one is related to the glucose sensor technology and wearability, the second is related to the platform architecture, and the third to the implementation of the end-user services. The Glucose Management System, already developed within the REACTION project, is able to monitor a range of parameters from various sources including glucose levels, nutritional intakes, administered drugs, and patient’s insulin sensitivity, offering decision support for insulin dosing to professional caregivers on a mobile tablet platform that fulfills the need of the users and supports medical workflow procedures in compliance with the Medical Device Directive requirements.
Conclusions
Good control of diabetes, as well as increased emphasis on control of lifestyle factors, may reduce the risk profile of most complications and contribute to health improvement. The REACTION project aims to respond to these challenges by providing integrated, professional, management, and therapy services to diabetic patients in different health care regimes across Europe in an interoperable communication platform.
doi:10.2196/ijmr.2193
PMCID: PMC3626139  PMID: 23612026
Medical Information Systems; Medical Expert Systems; Biomedical Engineering; Biomedical Informatics; Biomedical Computing; Telemedicine; Diabetes
25.  Chronic Disease Patients’ Experiences With Accessing Health Care in Rural and Remote Areas 
Background
Rurality can contribute to the vulnerability of people with chronic diseases. Qualitative research can identify a wide range of health care access issues faced by patients living in a remote or rural setting.
Objective
To systematically review and synthesize qualitative research on the advantages and disadvantages rural patients with chronic diseases face when accessing both rural and distant care.
Data Sources
This report synthesizes 12 primary qualitative studies on the topic of access to health care for rural patients with chronic disease. Included studies were published between 2002 and 2012 and followed adult patients in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Review Methods
Qualitative meta-synthesis was used to integrate findings across primary research studies.
Results
Three major themes were identified: geography, availability of health care professionals, and rural culture. First, geographic distance from services poses access barriers, worsened by transportation problems or weather conditions. Community supports and rurally located services can help overcome these challenges. Second, the limited availability of health care professionals (coupled with low education or lack of peer support) increases the feeling of vulnerability. When care is available locally, patients appreciate long-term relationships with individual clinicians and care personalized by familiarity with the patient as a person. Finally, patients may feel culturally marginalized in the urban health care context, especially if health literacy is low. A culture of self-reliance and community belonging in rural areas may incline patients to do without distant care and may mitigate feelings of vulnerability.
Limitations
Qualitative research findings are not intended to generalize directly to populations, although meta-synthesis across a number of qualitative studies builds an increasingly robust understanding that is more likely to be transferable. Selected studies focused on the vulnerability experiences of rural dwellers with chronic disease; findings emphasize the patient rather than the provider perspective.
Conclusions
This study corroborates previous knowledge and concerns about access issues in rural and remote areas, such as geographical distance and shortage of health care professionals and services. Unhealthy behaviours and reduced willingness to seek care increase patients’ vulnerability. Patients’ perspectives also highlight rural culture’s potential to either exacerbate or mitigate access issues.
Plain Language Summary
People who live in a rural area may feel more vulnerable—that is, more easily harmed by their health problems or experiences with the health care system. Qualitative research looks at these experiences from the patient’s point of view. We found 3 broad concerns in the studies we looked at. The first was geography: needing to travel long distances for health care can make care hard to reach, especially if transportation is difficult or the weather is bad. The second concern was availability of health professionals: rural areas often lack health care services. Patients may also feel powerless in “referral games” between rural and urban providers. People with low education or without others to help them may find navigating care more difficult. When rural services are available, patients like seeing clinicians who have known them for a long time, and like how familiar clinicians treat them as a whole person. The third concern was rural culture: patients may feel like outsiders in city hospitals or clinics. As well, in rural communities, people may share a feeling of self-reliance and community belonging. This may make them more eager to take care of themselves and each other, and less willing to seek distant care. Each of these factors can increase or decrease patient vulnerability, depending on how health services are provided.
PMCID: PMC3817950  PMID: 24228078

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