An Integrated Care Strategy for Pre-schoolers with Suspected Developmental Disorders: The Optimus Co-design Project that has Made it to Regular Care
Introduction: Multiple neurodevelopmental problems affect 7–8% of children and require evaluation by more than one profession, posing a challenge to care systems.
Description: The local problem comprised distressed parents, diagnostic processes averaging 36 months and 28 visits with 42% of children >4 years at referral to adequate services, and no routines for patient involvement. The co-design project was developed through a series of workshops using standard quality improvement methodology, where representatives of all services, as well as parents participated.
The resulting integrated care model comprises a team of professionals who evaluate the child during an average of 5.4 appointments (N = 95), taking 4.8 weeks. Parents were satisfied with the holistic service model and 70% of children were under 4 at referral (p < 0.05). While 75% of children were referred, 25% required further follow-up by the team.
Discussion: The Optimus model has elements of vertical, clinical and service integration. Reasons for success included leadership support, buy-in from the different organisations, careful process management, a team co-ordinator, and insistent user involvement.
Conclusion: Evaluating multiple neurodevelopmental problems in children requires an integrated care approach. The Optimus care model is a relevant showcase for how people-initiated integrated care reforms can make it into usual care.