What is an Integrated Care Organisation in the NHS?

The concept of accountable care is relatively new to the NHS. A commonly held definition of accountable care is a model which brings together a variety of provider organisations to take responsibility for the cost and quality of care for a defined population within an agreed budget (for example a capitated budget).

An integrated care model can take many different organisational forms ranging from loose alliances or partnerships in which organisations retain their own autonomy but agree to collaborate to fully integrated networks of hospitals and other providers.  Whether the model is called an integrated Care Organisation, System or Partnership is likely to depend on the extent of organisational integration involved.

Many new care models are ambitious to become accountable care models. However, accountable care models are likely to be complex and time-consuming to establish given they will be dependent on the award of capitated budgets under long term contracts. On that basis an accountable care model might be the end goal of a new care model rather than something that can be established immediately.

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