With the growing burden of chronic and noncommunicable diseases, there is also an increased need for specialised services and complex care requiring multidisciplinary collaboration to support patients in managing their health. In 2016, the Member States of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe unanimously endorsed the European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery (EFFA IHSD) to strengthen people-centred health systems in their countries(1).  

The framework presents four priority areas of action to drive the transformations for integrated health services(1): 

  1. Populations and individuals; 
  1. Service delivery processes;
  1. System enablers;
  1. Change management.

Although countries endorsed this framework, the COVID-19 crisis has shown that European health systems need to continue their effort to decrease the fragmentation in their systems. Many organisations, such as the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), are calling countries to use the pandemic as both an testament of the urgent need for personalised and integrated care, but also as a catalyst for change in their health and care systems (2). 

At the organisational level, it is recognised that person-centeredness and integrated care are complex tasks that are easily discussed, but difficult to implement. Last year, at EHMA 2020, the session ‘Implementing integrated care: a guidebook for managers’ discussed the book: ‘How to Deliver Integrated Care. A Guidebook for Managers’, which presents concrete ways by which health managers can implement integrated care, from funding, to technology, to the social dimensions of the concept.  

This year EHMA 2021 will continue the conversation about integration, while also discussing personalised medicine, value-based healthcare, and the role of health leaders in bringing their organisations, countries, and Europe closer to implementing integrated care to reach their goal of a healthier population. 

  1. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REGIONAL OFFICE FOR EUROPE. Strengthening people-centred health systems in the WHO European Region: framework for action on integrated health services delivery . 2016.  
  2. International Foundation for Integrated Care. Realising the True Value of Integrated Care: Beyond COVID-19 . 2020.