Policy by Pilot? Learning From Demonstration Projects for Integrated Care; Comment on “Integration or Fragmentation of Health Care? Examining Policies and Politics in a Belgian Case Study”

Document Type : Commentary


Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, Brooklyn, NY, USA


Analysis of policy implementation for chronic disease in Belgium highlights the difficulties of launching experiments for integrated care in a health system with fragmented governance. It also entreats us to consider the inherent challenges of piloting integrated care for chronic disease. Sociomedical characteristics of chronic disease –political, social, and economic aspects of improving outcomes – pose distinct problems for pilot projects, particularly because addressing health inequity requires collaboration across health and social sectors and a long-term, life-course perspective on health. Drawing on recent US experience with demonstration projects for health service delivery reform and on chronic disease research, I discuss constraints of and lessons from pilot projects. The policy learning from pilots lies beyond their technical evaluative yield. Pilot projects can evince political and social challenges to achieving integrated chronic disease care, and can illuminate overlooked perspectives, such as those of community-based organizations (CBOs), thereby potentially extending the terms of policy debate.


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