Measurement of integrated healthcare delivery: a systematic review of methods and future research directions

Int J Integr Care. 2009:9:e01. doi: 10.5334/ijic.305. Epub 2009 Feb 4.


Background: Integrated healthcare delivery is a policy goal of healthcare systems. There is no consensus on how to measure the concept, which makes it difficult to monitor progress.

Purpose: To identify the different types of methods used to measure integrated healthcare delivery with emphasis on structural, cultural and process aspects.

Methods: Medline/Pubmed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, WHOLIS, and conventional internet search engines were systematically searched for methods to measure integrated healthcare delivery (published - April 2008).

Results: Twenty-four published scientific papers and documents met the inclusion criteria. In the 24 references we identified 24 different measurement methods; however, 5 methods shared theoretical framework. The methods can be categorized according to type of data source: a) questionnaire survey data, b) automated register data, or c) mixed data sources. The variety of concepts measured reflects the significant conceptual diversity within the field, and most methods lack information regarding validity and reliability.

Conclusion: Several methods have been developed to measure integrated healthcare delivery; 24 methods are available and some are highly developed. The objective governs the method best used. Criteria for sound measures are suggested and further developments should be based on an explicit conceptual framework and focus on simplifying and validating existing methods.

Keywords: integrated healthcare delivery; literature review; methods; quality of healthcare.