The last year has seen the publication of two papers which will radically shape the future organisation of healthcare in general, and cardiovascular disease in particular: Cardiovascular Outcomes Strategy (Department of Health) and The Strategy That Will Fix Healthcare (Harvard Business Review). Both publications set out a health delivery mechanism based around improvement of outcomes for groups of patients with similar needs. Instead of organising care around disease categories, it is proposed that the cardiovascular diseases are treated as a single family of diseases. We are reaching the limits of what an activity-based system organised around existing provider structures can sustainably deliver. Unless we find delivery systems which reduce costs while at the same time improving outcomes that are meaningful to patients, then we will be faced with a future of healthcare rationing. The increasing burden of chronic disease and ongoing quality concerns in delivery systems has created a ‘burning platform’, which must be addressed if we are to maintain a system which offers high-quality care free at the point of delivery. This paper explores what an outcomes and value-based system could look like when applied to cardiovascular disease. It explores what it means for providers and patients if we start to think about outcomes by patients with similar needs, rather than by intervention, or by clinical specialty. As a specific example, the paper explores the features of an Integrated Circulation Service, what the challenges and implications might be, and whether there is any evidence that this would deliver improved outcomes, at a lower cost to the system.
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