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Matern Child Health J. 1997 Dec;1(4):243-52.

Integrating children's health services: evaluation of a national demonstration project.

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  • 1Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Increasingly, the public and private sectors are turning to "service integration" efforts to reduce, if not eliminate, barriers to needed care created by categorical programs. In 1991, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established a new national demonstration project, called the Child Health Initiative, intended to test the feasibility of developing mechanisms at the community level to coordinate the delivery of health services and to pay for those services through a flexible pool of previously categorical funds. This article presents the findings of an independent evaluation of the Child Health Initiative.

METHOD:

The evaluation utilized a combination of qualitative methods to assess and describe the experiences of the communities as they developed and implemented integrated health services. It used a repeated measures design involving two site visits and interim telephone interviews, as well as review of documents.

RESULTS:

Overall, the demonstration project achieved mixed success. Both care coordination and the production of community health report cards were found to be achievable within the relatively short life of the foundation grant. However, many sites experienced significant delays in the production of report cards and implementing care coordination plans because the sites largely did not benefit from the successful models already in existence. Little clear progress was made in implementing the decategorization component of the project. Sites experienced difficulties due to lack of previous experience with this new undertaking, the inability to secure active cooperation from local, state, and federal agencies, the relatively short duration of the project, and other factors.

CONCLUSIONS:

A number of lessons were learned from this project that may be useful in future decategorization experiments, including (1) a clear understanding of the concept and its applications among all parties is essential, (2) high-level political commitments to the effort are needed between all levels of government, (3) adequate technical assistance should be provided to surmount technical considerations in establishing a workable approach to decategorization, and (4) decategorization and service integration efforts should focus on both the health and social sectors.

PMID:
10728250
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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