The increase in demand for integrated care models to manage chronic disease is a challenge for the Irish health system, which is traditionally organised around the acute hospital services. Implementing integrated care programmes requires significant investment, and thus, their economic impact requires consideration.
This paper updates the previous evidence on the cost-effectiveness of integrated care programmes to support the development of a cost-effective integrated care programme for chronic disease management.
A systematic review of economic evaluations of integrated care programmes for chronic diseases (respiratory, cardiovascular, diabetes and musculoskeletal diseases) was performed using methods guided by the principles of conducting systematic reviews. The evidence was combined and summarised using a narrative synthesis. A meta-analysis of the evidence was not performed due to the heterogeneity of interventions and associated outcomes.
Six studies met the inclusion criteria; no study considered an integrated model of care that dealt with more than one chronic illness. Four chronic conditions were examined: stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and COPD. Three studies were full economic evaluations, and three were partial economic evaluations.
The economic evidence, examined within this review, suggests that integrated care programmes have the potential to be cost-effective, achieving greater health benefits and are less expensive than usual care. Across all the interventions considered, the reduction in inpatient and outpatient admissions was the main contributor to reducing costs.