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Integrated care strategy calls for shared ICT

15/06/16

Report says common information can support individual care and population based planning

A group of national organisations have got behind the call for health and social care agencies to have more common information and technology systems in support of integrating their services.

It comes as an element of a strategy report, Stepping up to the place, published by the Local Government Association, NHS Confederation, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

While the emphasis on shared systems is nothing new, the joint message from the four organisations should provide further momentum for the lead agencies in local care integration to take steps towards developing new IT platforms.

The report says the move should involve a common information basis for planning and managing shared records, both for individual care and population based planning. Along with this there should be service arrangements and plans for people receiving care to use technology, and a shared risk stratification model for agencies to identify the individuals most at risk.

Narrow focus failure

It makes the point that previous integration programmes have used the population based tools to identify the 1-2% of people most at risk of admission to hospital, but that their narrow focus has not been sufficient to have a strong impact. It is more encouraging about the use of telecare and telehealth systems, including monitoring devices in people’s homes and video conference consultations.

Investment in the ICT should be accompanied by work on other shared systems, notably long term payment and commissioning models – with a focus on identifying and sharing risk – and integrated workforce planning.

The report outlines a whole system vision for care integration, and identifies a number of challenges, including an unprecedented pressure on funding that has put plans to improve patient care and the sustainability of the whole health and social care sector at risk.

Its main calls to action are for:

  • National leaders to redress the shortfall in funding, particularly in public health and community services.
  • A cultural shift away from a focus on services for when people have critical needs towards public health.
  • Local leaders to work together for better integration.
  • Agreement and action to bring down the barriers.

Stephen_DorrellStephen Dorrell (pictured), chair of the NHS Confederation said: “This report sends a clear message that to improve the standard of care that we deliver to people we must better integrate our health and social care services. The NHS continues to face unprecedented demand and challenging financial circumstances.

“Against this background, we need to make sure we are utilising all the collective resources of a ‘place’ to benefit our local communities.

"There is now a real urgency to deliver on this ambition. Our priority now must be to turn rhetoric into action.”

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