Integrated Health and Social Care – We Really Need to talk about Data


We’ll be at the Future of Health and Social Care Conference in Manchester on September 25. It’s an exciting opportunity to hear how various organisations in Greater Manchester are planning to make the goal of integrating and coordinating care around the needs of individual service users a reality.

Some of the success factors in building more integrated care delivery are expressed in terms of providers and leaders being innovative and flexible. That’s undoubtedly true. We have to work differently if we are to deliver better care, to more people, and keep the cost under control.

But there’s another success factor that has to underpin any meaningful transformation: data sharing.

If we want integrated health and social care to become more than a policy objective we have to find practical and scalable ways to share information about the care people need and have received. And this information sharing has to be built around genuine person-centred care – with the preferences and wishes of each patient or service user centre-stage.

So how is this going to happen?

The track record with ‘big system’ solutions is not promising. The idea of an all embracing care management system is appealing – but is it deliverable?

At a more modest (but highly practical) level It’s already possible for a care management system like CareForIT to offer any authorized person secure web access to service user data. This includes care plans, visit notes and records, MAR charts and observations from care workers, service users and health professionals.

I strongly believe too that mobile care management systems have to be built around outcomes. Integrated care means setting outcomes that all providers share, track and are jointly committed to – and the systems used have to support this.

The question is though, how many proprietary systems might a GP, specialist or other clinician need to access to cover a large town? Never mind somewhere the size of Greater Manchester.

You could mandate all providers in an area to use the same system, but that would dampen innovation, which is the main element that private enterprise can bring to the party.

A more practical answer might lie in initiatives such as open data standards. In the same way that you can work with a Word document in Google Docs, service user information ought to be independent of the systems. This would allow private sector businesses to do what they do best: develop agile applications and systems; while making sure that information is more easily shared.

Delivering integrated health and social care is a big challenge. Resolving how we share patient information efficiently and securely has to be a major feature of the discussion that gets us there.

Integrated health and social care

Dan Farrell-Wright, Technical Director, CareForIT

If you’d like to see what we’ve done to make secure information sharing between health and care providers simpler, pop over to The Etihad Stadium and take a look.

If you can get there get in touch and we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration.

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