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Gac Sanit. 2006 Nov-Dec;20(6):485-95.

[Coordination among healthcare levels: systematization of tools and measures].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servei d'Estudis i Prospectives en Polítiques de Salut, Consorci Hospitalari de Catalunya, Barcelona, España.


Improving healthcare coordination is a priority in many healthcare systems, particularly in chronic health problems in which a number of professionals and services intervene. There is an abundance of coordination strategies and mechanisms that should be systematized so that they can be used in the most appropriate context. The present article aims to analyse healthcare coordination and its instruments using the organisational theory. Coordination mechanisms can be classified according to two basic processes used to coordinate activities: programming and feedback. The optimal combination of mechanisms will depend on three factors: the degree to which healthcare activities are differentiated, the volume and type of interdependencies, and the level of uncertainty. Historically, healthcare services have based coordination on skills standardization and, most recently, on processes standardization, through clinical guidelines, maps, and plans. Their utilisation is unsatisfactory in chronic diseases involving intervention by several professionals with reciprocal interdependencies, variability in patients' response to medical interventions, and a large volume of information to be processed. In this case, mechanisms based on feedback, such as working groups, linking professionals and vertical information systems, are more effective. To date, evaluation of healthcare coordination has not been conducted systematically, using structure, process and results indicators. The different strategies and instruments have been applied mainly to long-term care and mental health and one of the challenges to healthcare coordination is to extend and evaluate their use throughout the healthcare continuum.

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