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Integrated People-Centred Health Systems (IPCHS) Standard 

On this page

  1. Overview: the World’s First Integrated Care Standard 
  2. Access the Standard  
  3. About the IPCHS standard 
  4. How to use the IPCHS standard 
  5. Additional Information
  6. Implementation Resources to Support Adoption and Use 
  7. An example of Implementing Integrated Care – The Improving Integrated Care for Youth (IICY) Initiative
  8. Take Action with us 


1. Overview: The World’s First Integrated Care Standard 

We know how hard it is to translate the vision and value of integrated care into reality. We wanted to translate theory, evidence, and learnings from around the world into actionable best practices for integrated careTo offer concrete, evidence-informed guidance on what needs to be done and by whom to clarify accountabilityTco-produce practical direction for systems change that could be adapted to local needs and contexts, not a one-size-fits-all prescription for change.   

We know from our own on the ground experience in over 15,000 locations across 38 countries that people want change. Change that brings people together in new ways to build and support better systems of care – systems that are designed for and with those that need them the most. Systems that are peoplecentered, connected, safe and outcomesoriented. In short, we need people-centered, integrated systems of care – everywhere.   

Health Standards Organization (HSO) and our Integrated Health Technical Committee are proud to introduce the world’s first co-designed, evidence-based standard on integrated people-centred care and servicesCAN/HSO 76000:2021 Integrated People-Centred Health Systems (IPCHS). 

This standard is not currently a part of the Qmentum Accreditation or Distinction Programs. 


2. Access the Standard 

Click on the link to access the IPCHS standard on the e-store: CAN/HSO 76000:2021 Integrated People-Centred Health Systems (IPCHS)


3. About the IPCHS Standard

Why a standard? 

Historically, a lot of focus was on the quality of services within organizations or within a specific sector or population. While essential to ensure quality and patient safety, focusing within the boundaries of one organization or sector is simply not enough. The evidence is clear: risks of adverse events are highest during care transitions and people with multiple health and social care needs frequently fall between the cracks of disjointed, provider-focused, and siloed care. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the limitations of our traditional health care systems in ways we had never imagined, and there is universal agreement that we must do better.   

Standards can help bridge these gaps and address these unmet needs. Standards offer an agreed-upon way of doing things based on best evidence and consensus of experts. That is why we launched the process in the fall of 2017 to develop the worlds first standard for Integrated People-Centered Health Systems. 


What does the standard address?  

There are many definitions of integrated care – the one we use as the foundation for the standard is as follows: An in Integrated People-Centered health system is one with health and social services that are organized and managed across sectors and organizational boundaries so that people can receive coordinated and comprehensive services – at the right time, by the right provider in the right place.   

The standard is structured around 10 design principles. These are the essential features that evidence from around the world and our consensus of experts say need to be in place for any integrated health system. Wembedded expectations on partnering with people throughout every design principle, which is consistent with our HSO approach to all standards.  

These 10 design principles for integrated people-centred health systems will help service planners and decision-makers move towards more integrated systems to: 

  • Improve population health,  
  • Provide better health care experiences, 
  • Increase engagement for clients and providers,   
  • Reduce the costs of care, and  
  • Improve the quality and safety of care.  

To make the standard relevant and actionable in the real world, each design principle sets out explicit, objective requirements (criteria) to be met by health systems. The standard has 66 criteria in total that people can use as aspirational targets in their journey toward a fully integrated health system. Guidance is available for each criteria to help policy makers and health system partners know what actions to take together as they set and advance their local priorities.  

The 10 Design Principles of Integrated Care 

A graphic illustrating the ten design principles of integrated care

Click through to explore illustrations for the 10 Design Principles of Integrated Care: 

Design Principle #1: Defined Population and Outcomes

Design Principle #2: Comprehensive and Coordinated Continuum of Programs and Services

Design Principle #3: Seamless Access, Flow and Transitions

Design Principle #4: People-Centred Care Teams

Design Principle #5: System Leadership

Design Principle #6: Shared Governance and Clear Accountability

Design Principle #7: Aligned Funding and Incentives

Design Principle #8: Interoperable Information Systems

Design Principle #9: Impact-Based Performance Management

Design Principle #10: Adaptive Learning Culture

4. How can I use the IPCHS Standard?

The value of any standard increases with its adoption, acceptance and widespread use.  Achieving integrated people-centred care requires: 

  • A broad audience of individuals to come together, 
  • Having a shared vision, 
  • Knowledge and beliefs of what integrated care is, and  
  • Working together to achieve that vision.  

This IPCHS standard is intended to be used by all audiences, together. 

Here are some examples of ways people can use the IPCHS standard to address issues that are required for systems change:

1. Policy makers can use the IPCHS standard and implementation resources in their legislation or regulation as well as in guidance frameworks or national integrated care strategies and funding.

2. Health system partners
 (like service organizations) can use this standard to plan, deliver and optimize their systems of care. Their focus may include:
ncreased understanding of the population being served, 
-Collaborating to design a common vision, and 
-Establishing a shared governance structure.

For health system partners who are more advanced in their integration journey, attention may focus on:
-Strengthening leadership, 
-Evaluating team functioning and 
-Optimizing interoperable information systems.  

3. Providers
can use the IPCHS standard and implementation resources to assist in their planning, delivery and evaluation of integrated people-centred care at the practice, network or system level as part of an interdisciplinary team.

4. P
atients, Families and Caregivers will benefit from understanding what they can and should expect from the systems of care that they access in their local communities. Knowledge of the IPCHS standard can inspire participation in the journey toward integration as full partners. The philosophy of “nothing about me without me” is central to creating a truly peoplecentered, integrated care standard.


5. Researchers can use the IPCHS standard for clear, objective monitoring across networks and jurisdictions in their qualitative and qualitative studiesImplementation science and global organizations like the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) can help advance use of measures and outcomes so that the impact and value of integration can be better understood. 


5. Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions: Please find an overview of some commonly asked questions related to system integration and the development of a standard.

Info sheet: Learn about Health Standards Organization and Accreditation Canada’s current integrated care offerings, and considerations for users working in collaboration toward integrated peoplecentred health systems. 

Client and family one-pager: Learn about the IPCHS standard and what to expect as a client or family member receiving integrated health services.  

Continue learning: Review webinars and conference presentations related to integrated care.  


6. Implementation Resources to Support Adoption and Use

Integration is a journey. Evidence suggests that systems typically go through five phases to transform into a fully integrated, people-centred health system. These phases start with the first level, described as co-existing, when organizations function as autonomous, independent organizations, often with no plans to change their service model. Transformation involves moving though the continuum into progressively more mature states of co-operation, collaboration and finally integration.   

In the most mature state of integration, inter-dependent partners share structures, processes, resources and accountabilities to deliver team-based, coordinated services. The 10 design principles and 66 criteria in the IPCHS standard show people what this future state looks like in practical terms.    

It is important to understand however, that networks and health systems may not aspire to or be able to achieve fully integrated care And everyone gets to their destination at their own speed; transformation is not a linear process.  

With this in mind, we set out to close the gap between design and practice. We wanted to help people apply the standard to create shared values and vision, and to enable people to move along the continuum at their own paceand in a way that best suits their local context and goals. 

A graphic showing the Improving Integrated Care for Youth Initiative by Health Standards Organization To support this goal, we co-designed and tested three Integrated Care Implementation Resources:   

1. The HSO Integrated Care Assessment Process: Grounded in the HSO standard, this process helps health systems understand where they are currently are on their journey towards integrated care. While the IPHCS standard informs what a fully integrated people-centred health system would look like, the Integrated Care Assessment Process is designed to help health systems and networks understand where they are on the continuum of integration and how to advance their journey with tangible next steps.

2. The Pathways Design Tool: Once systems understand their shared vision for integrated care, they need an approach that will help them get there. Integrated care pathways are locally defined solutions that define the connections that are needed to connect people to the right services, in the right place at the right time. The Pathways Design Tool is an interactive how-to-toolkit that supports individuals and networks to co-create integrated care pathways in partnership with patients and families to understand what change needs to happen on the ground to realize integrated care.

3. A learning culture is essential for bringing integrated health systems to life. As we support health systems on their implementation journeys, we’ve used a variety of methods to build local capacity for integrated care, including learning collaboratives with peer-to-peer networking and mentoring, webinars, symposia, HSO Faculty expertise and support, and development of integrated people-centred Leading Practices. The tools and resources from these learning and knowledge exchanges are continuously adapted for use in other integrated health service settings. 

7. An example of Implementing Integrated Care – The Improving Integrated Care for Youth (IICY) Initiative

The Improving Integrated Care for Youth (IICY) Initiative was a three-year program funded by the federal government from 2019-2022 that brought together six service networks from across Canada. Each network applied the HSO standard within their local context and co-designed and tested the implementation resources in real-life settings with the support of HSO Faculty.

This innovative work involved 600 people, delivering care in 60 organizations across 11 Canadian provinces and territories. It allowed us to learn in real-time through different geographies and populations, with differing levels of resources.

Through this collective effort, the IICY Initiative worked to drive sustainable improvements and better outcomes by integrating care for youth living with mental health and addictions conditions.

8.Take Action with Us 

This is your invitation to take action with us; let’s create positive change together. Please access the standard through our e-store. Test it out in your own network, talk about it with your colleagues and partners and let us know what you are learning through implementation.    

Let’s advance integrated peoplecentered care from design to practice. 


Connect with us:

Access the IPCHS standard:  

Click on the link to access the IPCHS standard on the e-store: CAN/HSO 76000:2021 Integrated People-Centred Health Systems (IPCHS).