Article: article from journal or magazin.
Integrated care organizations in Switzerland.
International Journal of Integrated Care
e010 [8 p.]
INTRODUCTION: The Swiss health care system is characterized by its decentralized structure and high degree of local autonomy. Ambulatory care is provided by physicians working mainly independently in individual private practices. However, a growing part of primary care is provided by networks of physicians and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) acting on the principles of gatekeeping. TOWARDS INTEGRATED CARE IN SWITZERLAND: The share of insured choosing an alternative (managed care) type of basic health insurance and therefore restrict their choice of doctors in return for lower premiums increased continuously since 1990. To date, an average of one out of eight insured person in Switzerland, and one out of three in the regions in north-eastern Switzerland, opted for the provision of care by general practitioners in one of the 86 physician networks or HMOs. About 50% of all general practitioners and more than 400 other specialists have joined a physician networks. Seventy-three of the 86 networks (84%) have contracts with the healthcare insurance companies in which they agree to assume budgetary co-responsibility, i.e., to adhere to set cost targets for particular groups of patients. Within and outside the physician networks, at regional and/or cantonal levels, several initiatives targeting chronic diseases have been developed, such as clinical pathways for heart failure and breast cancer patients or chronic disease management programs for patients with diabetes. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Swiss physician networks and HMOs were all established solely by initiatives of physicians and health insurance companies on the sole basis of a healthcare legislation (Swiss Health Insurance Law, KVG) which allows for such initiatives and developments. The relevance of these developments towards more integration of healthcare as well as their implications for the future are discussed.
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