This post is in response to a question from Canadian reader Beth, who wants to know more about the barriers that stand in the way of her daughter (who has a chronic health condition) receiving patient-centered, integrated care.


Integrated care and patient-centered care are two terms that convey a lot of potential and promise for the parents of children with chronic health conditions, however, the health care system is experiencing growing pains in order to achieve them. Before we go on, it’s important to discuss what these terms mean.

Patient-Centered Care: This is the practice wherein the patient and their families are viewed as equal partners in the medical decision making process with the physician remaining the lead clinical partner. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) first committed to encouraging patient-centered care in 2007.

Integrated Care: When care is fully integrated, health care services are coordinated across specialties and across aspects of the patient’s life, including at home and in the community. You can find out more about integrated care from a working paper the CMA co-authored with the Canadian Nurses Association here.

In an integrated health care environment, services can be precisely targeted to individual patient needs, and delivered by the most appropriate provider, in the most appropriate environment, at just the right time.

However, achieving integrated care is a much more complex task than many suspect, and it’s a task that health care systems across the globe are struggling to achieve.

There are two main issues that prevent truly integrated care in Canada:

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Categories: Policy, Politics, + Pop Health