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What are the benefits of provider networks?

The rationale for forming provider networks is the need for multi-disciplinary teams to deliver coordinated person-centred care. The growing consensus is that the only way to meet the needs of individuals is to bring the perspectives of multiple disciplines to bear on their well-being and to address issues holistically.

These teams are needed to support more innovative, flexible and responsive models of care. In order to form true multi-disciplinary teams, following the vision of Chapter 6: How do we innovate a new model of care working with users and carers? it will not be enough simply to coordinate with other providers. Stronger forms of partnership are required to ensure an overriding focus on people, not organisations.

Creating a single multi-disciplinary team which sits together and looks after individuals with a shared set of outcome goals and a shared approach requires tight alignment of providers. Building a provider network, where formal structures support a shared vision for care, is the best way to work within practical constraints to create the single team mindset required for effective multi-disciplinary teams.

There are additional potential benefits to building provider networks which were identified by a peer group of providers, commissioners and service users.

  • It is possible to allocate capitated budgets to provide all the care for a population in a way which is currently hard to do.
  • The network has responsibility for end to end care, reducing risks of poor care in provider handoffs or siloed approaches to delivery of care
  • The network can eliminate activities being duplicated and therefore better use of available public resource
  • The shared financial incentives can encourage investment in the new way of working including prevention and early intervention to avoid or delay more costly care in acute and residential settings
  • A provider network can leverage scale to provide, for example, support functions which are not currently viable.
  • A network can reduce provider-provider transaction costs (relative to setting up individual short contracts)
  • A network reduces transaction costs for commissioners