Background: The terms integration and integrated care describe the complex, patient-centred strategies to improve coordination of healthcare services. Frameworks exist to conceptualise these terms, but these have been developed from a professional viewpoint.
The objective of this study was to explore consumers’ and providers’ concepts, expectations and experience of integrated care. A key focus was whether frameworks developed from a professional perspective are effective models to explore people’s experiences.
Methods: A qualitative pilot study was undertaken at one Australian multidisciplinary primary health care centre. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with consumers (N = 19) and staff (N = 10). Data were analysed using a framework analysis approach.
Results: Consumers’ experience of integrated care tended to be implicit in their descriptions of primary healthcare experiences more broadly. Experiences related to the typologies involved clinical and functional integration, such as continuity of providers and the usefulness of shared information. Staff focused on clinical level integration, but also talked about a cultural shift that demonstrated normative, professional and functional integration.
Conclusions: Existing frameworks for integration have been heavily influenced by the provider and organisational perspectives. They are useful for conceptualising integration from a professional perspective, but are less relevant for consumers’ experiences. Consumers of integrated primary health care may be more focussed on relational aspects of care and outcomes of care.