Practice-based commissioning (PBC) in the UK is intended to improve both the vertical and horizontal integration of health care, in order to avoid escalating costs and enhance population health. Vertical integration involves patient pathways to treat named medical conditions that transcend organisational boundaries and connect communitybased generalists with largely hospital-sited specialists, whereas horizontal integration involves peerbased and cross-sectoral collaboration to improve overall health. Effective mechanisms are now needed to permit ongoing dialogue between the vertical and horizontal dimensions to ensure that medical and nonmedical care are both used to their best advantage. This paper proposes three different models for combining vertical and horizontal integration – each is a hybrid of internationally recognised ideal types of primary care organisation. Leaders of PBC should consider a range of models and apply them in ways that are relevant to the local context. General practitioners, policy makers and others whose job it is to facilitate horizontal and vertical integration must learn to lead such combined approaches to integration if the UK is to avoid the mistakes of the USA in over-medicalising health issues.
Geoffrey Meads, Paul Thomas, Ahmet Moustafa, Irwin Nazareth, Kurt C Stange, Gertrude Donnelly Hess
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