An integrated delivery network (IDN), or health system, is an organization that owns and operates a network of one or more healthcare facilities. Because health systems are designed to provide a wide variety of care services, they often contain many different types of inpatient and outpatient care facilities, including:
IDNs can be categorized into four different types, depending on the number of member healthcare facilities and the way in which it approaches strategic decisions like purchasing or care coordination. All health systems can be classified into one of the following IDN integration levels:
Much like accountable care organizations, IDNs use their vast network of healthcare providers to deliver high-quality, coordinated care to patients. Because many health systems offer a wide range of care services, providers are often able to address nearly all their patients’ healthcare needs without ever seeking an out-of-network referral. This not only allows for greater communication and care collaboration across a patient’s whole continuum of care, but also helps to prevent revenue loss from network leakage.
Some large integrated delivery networks are also able to leverage their market influence for greater negotiating power in much the same way that a group purchasing organization (GPO) would. By doing this, IDNs can secure competitive supply chain prices and help to lower overall healthcare costs.