Developing integration among stakeholders in the primary care networks of Singapore: a qualitative study.



Integrating healthcare services across and between the different health system levels can be achieved in a few ways; however, examining the social side of integration is essential and challenging. This paper explores the concept of integration perceived by general practitioners (GPs) and primary care network (PCN) representatives from the regional health systems (RHS) in a GP-RHS PCN and their perceived partnership success.


In this study, we explored three GP-RHS PCNs in Singapore. We used a qualitative research design and, overall, performed 17 semi-structured in-depth interviews with GPs (n = 11) and PCN representatives (n = 6) from the RHS. All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. We conducted thematic analysis to inductively identify themes from the data. Singer's conceptual model of integration types was used as guiding principles to derive relevant and salient themes for integration.


GPs and the RHS perceived the concept of integration through a series of interrelated strategies. Within the normative dimension, a sense of urgency motivated GPs to integrate improvements into their general practice. Participants perceived teamwork and relational climate as appropriate enablers for achieving interpersonal integration in a primary care partnership. While developing a trusted relationship was a perceived success of this partnership across the network, developing camaraderie and gaining knowledge in chronic disease management through the components of functional integration was a perceived success at an individual general practice level. The data also revealed some operational challenges within the structural dimension and some inabilities of the PCN to achieve complete process integration.


Our study points to multi-faceted integration, comprising various forms that need to be manifested at all levels of care to achieve coordinated, seamless, and comprehensive care for patients suffering from chronic conditions. The present iteration of the PCN has been shown to offer integration at a level that warrants praise but still requires structural and process integration improvement.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Surendran, Shilpa, Chuan De Foo, David Bruce Matchar, John Pastor Ansah, Josip Car and Gerald Choon Huat Koh (2022). Developing integration among stakeholders in the primary care networks of Singapore: a qualitative study. BMC health services research, 22(1). p. 782. 10.1186/s12913-022-08165-1 Retrieved from

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David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines

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