It has been 12 years after Porter and Teisberg published their landmark manuscript on "Redefining Health Care." Apart from stressing the need for a fundamental change from fee-for-service to value or outcome-based financing and to a focus on reducing waste, they emphasized the need to work along patient pathways and in Integrated Practice Units to overcome function based and specialist group silos and promote working in multidisciplinary patient-oriented teams. Integrated Practice Units are defined as "organized around the patient and providing the full cycle of care for a medical condition, including patient education, engagement, and follow-up and encompass inpatient, outpatient and rehabilitative care as well as supporting services." Although relatively few papers are published with empirical evidence on Integrated Practice Units development, some providers have impressively developed pathways and integrated care toward alignment with Integrated Practice Units criteria. From the field, we learn that possible advantages lay in improving patient centeredness, breaking through professional boundaries, and reducing waste in unnecessary duplications. A firm body of evidence on the added value of turning pathways into Integrated Practice Units is hard to find and this leaves room for much variation. Although intuitively attractive, this development requires staff efforts and costs and therefore cost-effectiveness and budget impact studies are much needed. Randomized controlled trials may be difficult to realize in organizational research, it is long known that turning to alternative designs such as larger case study series and before-after designs can be helpful. Thus, it can become clear what added value is achievable and how to reach that.
Keywords: Care pathways; health services research; management; organized care.