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How Could Data Lead us to Better Informed Integrated Care? Lessons Learnt from Improving Integrated Care in Estonia


Gerli Aavik

Estonian Ministry Of Social Affairs, Tallinn, Harjumaa, EE
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In the field of integrated care, governments are often forced to design policy based on fragments of data, often not presenting the full picture. Different elements of care tend to be run by different organisations and be organised based on different administrative and financial logic, each basing their decisions on data available in their organisation. Same is true in Estonia - people with high support needs can receive care from healthcare, welfare, employment and education sector and in complex cases, this can lead to incoherent and uncoordinated care pathways and negative outcomes.

In order to overcome these issues, Estonia has launched a variety of projects and initiatives to improve integration and coordination between different sectors and stakeholders, some of those initiatives being more and others less successful. In 2018, Estonian Government, with the support of European Commission (SRSS) and together with IFIC, started a more comprehensive reform project with the overall aim to contribute to a more integrated and person-centred provision of social, medical and vocational support services to people with disabilities and elderly with high support needs. Within the scope of this project, an overall integration strategy with appropriate (quadruple aim balanced) measures is created, integrated care pathways are developed, the interoperability of data is improved and motivation incentives are revised.

One of the most ambitious plans within the project is to design a linked administrative dataset that would enable to better understand complex care pathways and answer questions, such as “are the home and community-based services been offered before the institutional services?” and “Which services and benefits are being provided in parallel and with what cost?”. Such dataset is needed to have more data-led policymaking and make sure that decisions on how to improve value across a range of dimensions are well-informed.

The project is still ongoing, but the new principles for integrated care (including more specific principles for data linkage and redesigning pathways) have been established, the description of the dataset is ready for testing with a data from a chosen municipality and preparations have been made for a proof of concept analysis. The project runs until June 2020, but as improving integrated care is a journey, taken with a variety of relevant stakeholders, the intermediate lessons and identified barriers (institutional, legal and other) can already be introduced and expertise between different countries on the similar journey can be shared.

The target audience for the workshop would be policymakers working with similar issues and other interested stakeholders (such as academics and practitioners). The workshop would be centered around the use of data to improve integrated care, with the main focus on linked administrative data, its potential use cases and data sources to be used. Workshop would last for 60 minutes – taking up to 30 minutes to present the Estonian context and approach and 30 minutes to discuss within the group how to overcome the challenges Estonia is currently facing within the reform plans and how to transfer the lessons learnt to other contexts.

How to Cite: Aavik G. How Could Data Lead us to Better Informed Integrated Care? Lessons Learnt from Improving Integrated Care in Estonia. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2021;20(S1):213. DOI:
Published on 26 Feb 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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