WHO Regional Office consultation on Integrated Health Service Delivery

Strengthening people-centred health systems: a European framework for action on integrated health services delivery

Thanks to the Erasmus mobility training scheme, I was invited to attend the WHO Regional Office’s consultation of the European framework for action on Integrated Health Service Delivery, along with some colleagues from the WHO CC and representatives from all over the region.

The consultation began with the ideological discussion of what the ‘ideal health system’ would consist of. The factors which came up from several countries, and remained a priority throughout the consultation, were:

- Positive connections between health and social services

- Continuity of care with a life-course approach

- Health Promotion

- Overcome silo practices

- Excel in not only leadership, but also admin and management.

People are the centre of the new framework, looking to drive health systems according to their needs and preferences, not only in what needs to be done but also how it is executed.

A new definition of what being healthy means offered the possibility to reflect on not only physical and emotional wellbeing, but also on individuals’ ability to adapt and self-manage. Integrated care is the future of health systems because it incorporates the health management and prevention of disease alongside treatment of illness.

Professional training and ease of information sharing is key in being able to provide an infrastructure fluid enough to cater for modern populations. The medical curriculum and training need some careful attention in order to ensure that medical care is aligned with people’s needs and preferences, moving away from the paternalistic model of care.

Technology plays an important role as a tool for empowerment, but it is not the answer. People are at the centre of the evolution of healthcare, and with them their carers, family and environments. The role of nurses in providing continuity of care both in the hospital setting and in the community was a topic which came up time and again from all member states: a fascinating presentation was given by an Irish group of nurses who provide at home care for their patients who would rather be home than in a hospital bed. It is clear that there is so much to be learned from with Europe, it is vital that the information and learnings are shared.

Enough pilots have taken place in the EU now to highlight that integrated care works for patients and care givers, what is needed now is disruptive innovation to ensure that integrated care becomes the norm. Co-creation at local level, following an established framework proposed by the WHO can allow for this.

The key elements of the framework proposed are outlined below:

The European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery


The consultation allowed for individuals from all member states to discuss the framework, exchange ideas and share their respective countries’ challenges and successes, highlighting the importance of collaboration to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.

The experience opened my eyes to how research and theory can be transformed and applied to practice in order to improve population health and care delivery. It highlighted the importance of our department and our centre’s work to build collaborative relationships in order to learn and communicate effectively across all disciplines.

More detailed information can be found at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Health-systems/health-service-delivery/publications