IT professionals’ association says the Dutch healthcare model could potentially be applied to a range of public services
An approach used for healthcare in the Netherlands has the potential to be used for a broader transformation of public services in the UK, according to public sector IT organisation Socitm.
Its Insight Group has highlighted the Buurtzorg model in its latest briefing, with an indication that it would require a bespoke IT development for different service sets.
Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight, told UKAuthority that, while the implementation in the Netherlands has focused on healthcare, the underlying principle could be used in other services, especially to support the integration of health and social care.
“The general point is getting groups of professionals together and encouraging them to think about how to design a service, rather than be constrained by how it has been done in the past,” he said.
Buurtzorg, which was developed by the home care organisation of the same name in 2006, involves small teams of highly trained nurses who take on a broad range of tasks in caring for individuals. They have considerable independence in planning their work and do so under a flat organisational structure, supported by a small back office team with a bespoke IT system for scheduling, documenting nursing assessments, sharing information between teams and billing insurance companies.
Greenwood said that off-the-shelf IT systems would be unlikely to meet the demands of the model and might impose bureaucratic restrictions, but once new systems are developed they could be replicated for teams taking the approach.
“If it was applied to just 1% of social care services in the UK it would be pretty good as a start,” he said.
The briefing says that if the same team member to supervisor ratio, which is better than 142:1, were achieved across the UK it would provide huge savings for the public sector.
It also emphasises that the initiative was led by people delivering the frontline service, rather than senior management or a technical back office. It has called on members to share ideas about new operating models and governance structures with IT as a catalyst.
Since its launch Buurtzorg has been applied in Sweden, Japan and the US. It has attracted attention in the UK over recent months since management consultancy KPMG published a favourable report in January, and in August was the subject of a Royal College of Nursing study that said it reduced client costs by 40% and helped to promote patient self-care.