Introducing the Integration Forum

October 13, 2015|11:07 a.m.| David O’Gurek

Imagine a fully integrated health system where healthcare organizations and communities partnered to ensure health was a priority at all levels of the infrastructure. Imagine a marketplace where people do not feel lost navigating a complex health system, meeting barriers and obstacles at each level while trying to better their health and themselves. Imagine a community where it is understood that health doesn’t just live in hospitals and health clinics but throughout the community – in schools, grocery stores, churches, and homes.  Imagine if those were all realities.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is proud to recognize the Integration Forum (IF), formerly the ASTHO-Supported Primary Care and Public Health Collaborative, as a vehicle to work towards turning these imaginings into reality. While the collaborative has worked to promote primary care and public health integration for the past three years, the impetus for this re-branding effort was to re-launch the collaborative as a “think tank” and leader in bringing people and organizations together with great ideas on integration of the disciplines of primary care and public health. With the impetus as the 2012 IOM report, Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health, the Integration Forum acknowledges that the work over the past three years exploring integration has demonstrated successes, sustainability, and growth to the point that continued work needs to move from exploration to establishing a reality.

The new Integration Forum will be strategic in providing a platform for this reality to occur. Partners and potential partners will continue to engage actively and will see new strategies for engagement through new communications efforts including new newsletter formats, social media engagement, and strategies at identifying new partners that must be part of the process to make this a reality. As population health continues to be a focus within health reform, individuals at all levels will be seeking best practices and opportunities to partner with organizations to create sustainable models for improved population health. ASTHO’s Integration Forum is dedicated to serving as a leader in connecting people to help achieve these outcomes.

As change has become the norm in improving health, some things remain the same—such as the need for proactively addressing social determinants of health to improve community wellness. Alone we can perhaps improve things locally, but together we might innovate at a much greater scale. While efforts have been occurring for years, in no other time has primary care and public health integration been so critical and so necessary for reforms to occur successfully.    

So we ask you: Imagine if we had a fully integrated health system. Imagine “IF.”

About the Integration Forum

The Integration Forum (formerly known as the ASTHO-supported Primary Care and Public Health Collaborative) is a partnership of more than 50 organizations that seeks to inform, align, and support the implementation of integration efforts. This initiative began with a meeting co-hosted by ASTHO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that brought together key individuals in primary care and public health to create a strategic map. The map filled the need for a strategic approach to integration in follow-up to the IOM report Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health. For more information on the strategic map and our integration efforts, visit ASTHO’s website or e-mail us.

David O'Gurek

David T. O’Gurek, MD, FAAFP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and is the primary care chair of ASTHO’s Integration Forum Communications Committee. He provides full spectrum outpatient and adult inpatient care at Temple as well as runs a buprenorphine program for patients with opioid dependence. O’Gurek is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians where he sits on the Commission on Health of the Public and Science, chairing the Primary Care Public Health Integration Workgroup.