The NHS Future Forum on integration, published in January, called for the development of new measures to evaluate patients' experience across 'whole journeys of care'.
However, a DH document this week warned that developing these measures would take time, and proposed tracking a selection of existing patient survey information as an interim measure.
These included questions on how different people caring and treating a patient worked well with each other, and whether patients received copies of letters sent between hospital doctors and GPs.
Dr James Kingsland, national clinical commissioning lead for England, said: ‘Clearly articulating integration is important, but we have to define it first as we lack a consistent narrative.’
He added that national surveys were ‘good mood music’ but warned that more could be gained by attending to local needs and delivering more personalised care.
The DH has commissioned research to look at possible ways to evaluate patient experience along different pathways and within individual services, which is scheduled for release in 2013. Work has also started with the CQC to include new integration questions in upcoming national NHS surveys.
Meanwhile, NHS Future forum chairman Professor Steve Field - former chairman of the RCGP - was appointed yesterday as deputy national medical director (health inequalities) for the NHS Commissioning Board. He will be responsible for leading work to cut inequalities in line with the NHS Constitution.