The purpose of this scoping literature review was to determine what is known about: 1) structures and processes required to build successful collaborations between primary care (PC) and public health (PH); 2) outcomes of such collaborations; and 3) markers of their success.
Collaboration between PC and PH is believed to enable more effective individual and population services than what might be achieved by either alone.
The study followed established methods for a scoping literature review and was guided by a framework that identifies systemic, organizational and interactional determinants for collaboration. The review was restricted to articles published between 1988 and 2008. Published quantitative and qualitative primary studies, evaluation research, systematic and other types of reviews, as well as descriptive accounts without an explicit research design, were included if they addressed either the structures or processes to build collaboration or the outcomes or markers of such collaboration, and were published in English.
The combined search strategy yielded 6125 articles of which 114 were included. Systemic-level factors influencing collaboration included: government involvement, policy and fit with local needs; funding and resource factors, power and control issues; and education and training. Lack of a common agenda; knowledge and resource limitations; leadership, management and accountability issues; geographic proximity of partners; and shared protocols, tools and information sharing were influential at the organizational level. Interpersonal factors included having a shared purpose; philosophy and beliefs; clear roles and positive relationships; and effective communication and decision-making strategies. Reported benefits of collaboration included: improved chronic disease management; communicable disease control; and maternal child health. More research is needed to explore the conditions and contexts in which collaboration between PC and PH makes most sense and potential gains outweigh the associated risks and costs.
Starting in 2015, the Swedish government has initiated a national reform to standardize cancer patient pathways and thereby eventually speed up treatment of cancer. Cancer care in Sweden is characterized by high survival rates and a generally high quality albeit long waiting times. The objective with the new national program to standardize cancer care pathways is to reduce these waiting times, increase patient satisfaction with cancer care and reduce regional inequalities. A new time-point for measuring the start of a care process is introduced called well-founded suspicion, which is individually designed for each cancer diagnosis. While medical guidelines are well established earlier, the standardisation is achieved by defining time boundaries for each step in the process. The cancer reform program is a collaborative effort initiated and incentivized by the central government while multi-professional groups develop the time-bound standardized care pathways, which the regional authorities are responsible for implementing. The broad stakeholder engagement and time-bound guidelines are interesting approaches to study for other countries that need to streamline care processes.
Health care provision in rural and urban areas faces different challenges. In Sweden, health care provision has been predominantly public and equitable access to care has been pursued mainly through public planning and coordination. This is to ensure that health needs are met in the same manner in all parts of the country, including rural or less affluent areas. However, a marketization of the health care system has taken place during recent decades and the publicly planned system has been partially replaced by a new market logic, where private providers guided by financial concerns can decide independently where to establish their practices. In this paper, we explore the effects of marketization policies on rural health care provision by asking how policy makers in rural counties have managed to combine two seemingly contradictory health policy goals: to create conditions for market competition among health care providers and to ensure equal access to health care for all patients, including those living in rural and remote areas.
A qualitative case study within three counties in the northern part of Sweden, characterized by vast rural areas, was carried out. Legal documents, the "accreditation documents" regulating the health care quasi-markets in the three counties were analyzed. In addition, interviews with policy makers in the three county councils, representing the political majority, the opposition, and the political administration were conducted in April and May 2013.
The findings demonstrate the difficulties involved in introducing market dynamics in health care provision in rural areas, as these reforms not only undermined existing resource allocation systems based on health needs but also undercut attempts by local policy makers to arrange for care provision in remote locations through planning and coordination.
Provision of health care in rural areas is not well suited for market reforms introducing competition, as this may undermine the goal of equity in access to health care, even in a publicly financed health care system.
In May 2012, one of Denmark's five health care regions mandated a reform of stroke care. The purpose of the reform was to save costs, while at the same time improving quality of care. It included (1) centralisation of acute stroke treatment at specialised hospitals, (2) a reduced length of hospital stay, and (3) a shift from inpatient rehabilitation programmes to community-based rehabilitation programmes. Patients would benefit from a more integrated care pathway between hospital and municipality, being supported by early discharge teams at hospitals. A formal policy tool, consisting of a health care agreement between the region and municipalities, was used to implement the changes. The implementation was carried out in a top-down manner by a committee, in which the hospital sector--organised by regions--was better represented than the primary care sector-organised by municipalities. The idea of centralisation of acute care was supported by all stakeholders, but municipalities opposed the hospital-based early discharge teams as they perceived this to be interfering with their core tasks. Municipalities would have liked more influence on the design of the reform. Preliminary data suggest good quality of acute care. Cost savings have been achieved in the region by means of closure of beds and a reduction of hospital length of stay. The realisation of the objective of achieving integrated rehabilitation care between hospitals and municipalities has been less successful. It is likely that greater involvement of municipalities in the design phase and better representation of health care professionals in all phases would have led to more successful implementation of the reform.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the planning of the National Health reform especially the "guarantee for care" reform within it--from the perspective of the concept of wicked problems. This concept asserts that it is of the utmost importance to see the true level of complexity of the problems in order to survive them. The paper tries to the answer the question of how the planners of the health care reforms see the problems they are trying to solve.
This is an interview study. A total of 12 people who participated in the planning of the examined reforms at some level were interviewed. The interview method was a semi-structured thematic interview. The research analysis is theory-originated content analysis.
The hypothesis is that the planners of the examined reforms do not focus enough on the complexity of the problems they tried to solve. The research, however, shows that the wickedness of the problems was often noticed. Unfortunately it was not taken as seriously as it should have been. In other words, the planners mostly saw that the problems were very complex, but even then the solutions were only like solutions for tame problems or messes.
The paradigm shift from Newtonian science--which sees the world as a deterministic system--to a more complexity-endorsing view is on its way. The world is a dynamic and open system, which cannot be controlled. The paper makes its own contribution, from the perspective of health care problems and reforms, to advance this paradigm shift.
Jessica Bylander ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a senior editor at Health Affairs, in Bethesda, Maryland. She is reporting this series during a yearlong Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists and supported by the Commonwealth Fund.