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Organizational restructuring in European health systems: the role of primary care.

Rico, A., Saltman, R.B., Boerma, W.G.W. Organizational restructuring in European health systems: the role of primary care. Social Policy & Administration: 2003, 37(6), p. 592-608.
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The main goal of this paper is to review the strategies developed across European health care systems during the 1990s to improve coordination among health care providers. A second goal is to provide some analytical insights in two fields. On the one hand, we attempt to clarify the relationships between pro-coordination strategies and organizational change in health care. Our main conclusion is that the specific features of health care impede the operation of either market or hierarchical coordination mechanisms. These can, however, be selectively successful if applied as levers to promote the role and impact of the pro-cooperative coordination strategies which are ultimately required to foster adequate inter-professional and inter-organizational coordination. On the other hand, we try to cast some light on the ongoing debate on convergence versus path dependency within the broader field of welfare state reform. Evidence on pro-coordination reforms in health care apparently supports some insights from previous work on the centrality of the socio-political structure to account for varying patterns of selective path dependency across countries. In particular, the informal power resources of specialist physicans vis-à-vis primary care professionals and the state are critical to explain the different rhythm and fate of pro-coordination reform across Europe. Against received wisdom, the evidence examined suggests that selective path depency might apperently be compatilble with a general trend towards convergence understood as hybridization. (aut.ref.)