The Integration Imperative: reshaping the delivery of human and social service

The Integration Imperative

The appeal of services integration has never been greater. Facing a delivery environment in human and social services that is growing ever more complex, public sector leaders around the world are embracing integrated delivery models to achieve both better outcomes for citizens and operating efficiencies – now and for the future.

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The integration imperative

Ensuring that citizens have a basic level of economic and social security is a key responsibility for governments across the globe. Trends such as aging population, growing sovereign debt, and high unemployment rates are placing ever-greater strain on services. But many support systems have not evolved to cope with the complexity of people’s needs. In particular, an increasing number of citizens experience interrelated difficulties that cross-traditional program lines. 

So, why integrate service delivery models? 

From an operational perspective:

  • Increased capacity and value for money by reducing process duplication
  • Improved strategic planning and system integrity through greater information sharing between agencies
  • Reduced demand for crisis services 

From a client perspective:

  • Simplified access
  • Holistic and customized support coordinated around client needs
  • Faster response time
  • Improved outcomes and user experience 

The current integration agenda

Since the expansion of social support systems in many advanced economies in the twentieth century – and the accompanying professionalism and specialization of service provision – there have been enduring concerns over fragmentation. Factors driving integration today are responding to a broad range of drivers, some old and some new. 

  • Increasing complexity of client needs
  • Aging populations
  • New digital technologies
  • Rebalancing of power, giving clients more autonomy over the services they access

Alongside widespread austerity measures, there are a range of popular policy initiatives that are impacting the way services integration is unfolding.

  • Transparency and open data
  • Evidence-based policy
  • Exploiting new digital technologies
  • Use of behavioral insights
  • New outcomes financing
  • Co-production with service users

The trajectory of services integration

Not only are more governments looking to enhance integration in the human and social services, but those early-innovator governments that began this journey a decade or more ago have embarked on new and more ambitious reform agendas. There are five key trends informing where the integration agenda is heading:

  1. Client pathways: A targeted and personalized approach enables clients with complex needs to receive coordinated services and support
  2. Focus on outcomes: Greater government investment in building an evidence base for services integration, provider funding regimes linked to outcomes measurement, and coordinated upstream interventions that focus on prevention
  3. Inter-governmental integration: Joint commissioning, integrated case management, the rationalization of government roles, harmonized reporting requirements and systems interoperability
  4. Inter-sectoral integration: Partnerships with service providers in the private and not-for-profit sectors in delivering publicly-funded services
  5. Place-based integration: Restructuring services along geographical rather than program lines in order to better respond to local needs

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