Helen Rainey, Lecturer, School of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of Scotland

In March 2018, I attended the Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies’ (CGI) 5 C’s of Integrated Healthcare: Collaboration, Cost, Community and Culture Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, providing one of the keynote lectures entitled Education for an Integrated Care Workforce Through Co-production and an Asset Based Approach. This provided me with the opportunity to share with the audience the integration agenda within Scotland, the education provided within University of the West of Scotland in relation to integration and the role of the International Centre for Integrated Care.

This was a fantastic experience and provided me with the opportunity for networking with people across the US and beyond. It highlighted that despite the known differences in provision of health care between Scotland and U.K. versus the USA there are clear similarities both in the challenges facing services and in improving the outcomes for individuals. The similarities were clear from the outset, with the first keynote presentation given by Rodrigo Olivares, National Clinical Care Director at Unitedhealth Group about the challenges faced when supporting the homeless population, highlighted clear similarities to the presentation I was doing the following day.

Although some of the language is different there are clear lessons we can learn from each other. These lessons include how integration of health and social care can improve value and outcomes for people along with how they could be improved if the payers and the providers recognize the role both play and share data and work together to benefit all. Our health services may be free at the point of delivery but as users and providers we must recognize and take cognizance that we are all the payers and need to ensure we do everything we can to maintain health and wellbeing to prevent the challenges associated with chronic disease and from a provider perspective ensure that services we deliver are effective and efficient.

The work focusing on vulnerable groups, which included the Native American population, was fascinating and was clearly aligned to the work being done in Scotland to support vulnerable groups. This was particularly evident in relation to working with individual communities and recognizing the assets and co-producing services with these communities.

Cummings Graduate Institute is a small, progressive not for profit, private university which delivers the 100% online Doctorate in Behavioral Health which is exclusively focused on integrated care. Karen Wilson, Dean of School, Dr Maria Pollard, Associate Dean for Education, Elaine Gifford and myself, both lecturers who are all from the School of Health Nursing and Midwifery at UWS met Dr. Wendy Boring-Bray and Melissa McGurgan of CGI at the International Conference on Integrated Care 2017 in Dublin and quickly realized that the core principles of the programs and the universities were clearly aligned and following on from this a partnership was established between the two institutions. I spent time during the conference discussing with Dr. Cara English, Dr. Wendy Boring-Bray, and Melissa McGurgan on potential opportunities for collaborative working which includes internationalizing curriculums and knowledge exchange particularly in relation to integration, mother and newborn with midwifery lead care, community nursing and dementia.

The welcome I had was amazing with the staff from CGI going the extra mile to ensure my stay in Phoenix went without a hitch (even lending me adaptors for charging the much needed electronics), and I was fortunate enough to attend their commencement ceremony following the conference.