According to the American Medical Association (AMA), clinical integration is the means to facilitate patient care. This takes place across various conditions, providers, settings, and time so that safe, timely, efficient, effective, and patient-focused care is achieved. Many legal statutes covering clinical integration are included in the 2011 Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare.
Clinical integration is important because many health care professionals and organization operate without much connection or communication with one another. For example, many general practice doctors operate alone, or in small practice groups, and do not always have access to enhanced , such as electronic health records. Without the coordination provided by clinical integration, a patient may receive conflicting information.
Clinical integration seeks to maintain quality and value across health management systems. Many incentives in the health care field have been shifted from the volume of services provided to the quality of services provided. Clinical integration ties together primary care physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, social workers and other clinicians to improve the overall level of patient care. The growth and development of technology, including electronic health records, should facilitate the expansion of clinical integration in the near future.