Health care reform, through innovative health delivery systems, has been a high priority to address staff shortages, increasingly complex care needs of the aging population, and fragmentation of care. Community health centers have been promoted as one service delivery model with large potential for integration and collaboration. The South Calgary Health Centre (SCHC) opened in June 2004 with the mandate to provide a new model for accessible, accountable, integrated, and community-based health services.
The primary objective was to determine the performance of the SCHC; and further, to establish the value of the evaluation framework used in measuring organizational performance of an integrated service delivery model.
Multiple stakeholders were involved in the evaluation in a utilization-focused, participatory way. A comprehensive evaluation framework was developed and implemented to assess the performance of the SCHC at system, provider, and patient levels. Functional, clinical, and community integration were key systems outcomes within this framework. Case-study methodology with mixed methods drawing on multiple data sources (both qualitative and quantitative) was used.
The evaluation findings suggest that the center is functioning well and that staff and client satisfaction are high. Although the model has not achieved all that was originally intended (i.e., fully realized clinical integration), participants felt that the model has been successful and has great potential for integration. The comprehensive evaluation framework developed for this project proved useful in assessing different aspects of integration as well as provider and client perceptions of the center's performance.
Evaluation findings and recommendations have been used to inform operations at the SCHC and for the planning of future health centers. The evaluation framework may help to standardize evaluation approaches across projects and can be used for monitoring progress of the SCHC as well as future evaluations of integrated service delivery models.
Esther Suter, PhD, MSW, is Research and Evaluation Consultant, Health Services and Workforce Research Unit, Calgary Health Region. E-mail: Esther.Suter@calgaryhealthregion.ca.
Melissa Hyman, MSc, is Research Assistant, Health Services and Workforce Research Unit, Calgary Health Region.
Nelly Oelke, MN, is Research and Evaluation Consultant, Health Services and Workforce Research Unit, Calgary Health Region.
This study was approved by the University of Calgary, Conjoint Research Ethics Board.