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Defining Services Integration

There are many different definitions and concepts associated with services integration. The Rockefeller Institute for Government broadly defined services integration as:

“A combination of strategies that simplifies and facilitates client access to benefits and services…[through] a distinctive mix of strategies, processes, and partner agencies.”

Other definitions of services integration highlight the purpose of services integration, the extent of integration, scope of services, and service delivery vehicles:

  • Program purpose: Services can be integrated for a specific target population, such as families with low incomes, or an entire community.
  • Extent of the integration: Services may be loosely integrated (communication, cooperation) to moderately integrated (coordination, collaboration) to highly integrated (convergence, consolidation), and there are variations.
  • Scope of services: A range of health and/or human services programs can be integrated.
  • Service delivery models: Health and human services can be delivered in different ways, such as by co-locating services or providing services using technology.

Services integration programs share the following common characteristics:

  • Client-centered, and often organized around a target population.
  • Seek to eliminate fragmentation, complexity, and redundancy in systems.
  • May include public, private, nonprofit, community-based, faith-based, and for-profit organizations providing services for the target population.
  • Promote efficacy, as measured through improved outcomes, and efficiency, as measured through reduced costs.

While services integration is about bringing together different components and services, it does not mean that all services are integrated into one package or program. The World Health Organization refers to services integration as a continuum rather than two extremes of integrated/not integrated.

Resources to Learn More

Building Better Human Service Systems
Document
The report highlights findings from field research that defines the types of services integration models, describes strategies for integration, and provides example programs.
Author(s): Ragan, M.
Organization(s): Rockefeller Institute of Government
Date: 6/2003

Human Services Systems Integration: A Conceptual Framework
Document
This report describes the continuum of services integration models, including a framework of services delivery systems integration.
Author(s): Corbett, T. & Noyes, J.L.
Organization(s): Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Date: 1/2008

The Integration Imperative: Reshaping the Delivery of Human and Social Services
Document
A review of global integration models in health and social services, including key features, trends, and lessons learned.
Organization(s): KPMG International, Mowat Centre
Date: 2013

A Standard Framework for Levels of Integrated Health Care
Document
Reviews levels of healthcare integration and offers a framework to standardize the categorization of healthcare delivery sites.
Author(s): Heath, B., Wise Romero, P., & Reynolds, K.A.
Organization(s): SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
Date: 4/2013