IT industry association techUK has produced five recommendations for integrated care systems (ICSs) in their use of digital technology and data.
They come within a new report titled Right from the Start, written with the organisation’s health and social care council and focused on how ICSs – established over the past two years to bring together health and care services – can make progress in tackling the healthcare backlog, addressing health inequalities and improving patient outcomes.
This follows the publication last year of a 10-point plan for the use of healthtech, following which a number of relevant policy and legislative documents have been published by the government.
The thrust of the report is that the shift to ICSs has created an opportunity to reset the planning and delivery of health and social care, and that digital tools and data will be crucial elements in making this work.
Its first recommendation is that ICSs engage with industry, non-governmental organisations and patient groups to develop a mechanism to highlight locally available digital tools. This would need to provide clear breakdowns and categorisations of the tools to help people distinguish between digital therapeutics, wellness tools and other products and services.
Second is that they prioritise the signalling of key demands at a local level, working with local academic health science networks and the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative. This would help the industry to target its innovation efforts on areas where specific problems need to be dealt with urgently.
Third is that integrated care boards should engage early with the industry as part of all digital transformation projects, and make ICS-level procurement pipelines clearly visible, mapping them onto strategies. These should improve transparency and clarity around the commercial activity of ICSs.
Fourth is for them to appoint dedicated teams to work closely with the standards and interoperability team in the NHS England Transformation Directorate to ensure any projects meet requirements on interoperability.
Fifth is that the Transformation Directorate should work with ICSs to open up their communities of digital transformation representatives to the industry. This should be accompanied by ICSs looking into the possibility of establishing transformation committees with representatives from social care and clinical teams.
Work on the report also involved Digital Health Networks, a community of digital leaders in the NHS and other relevant organisations.
In the foreword the chairs and deputy chairs of the networks comment: “A key strength of the new techUK report is in its recommendations to work with existing structures in vital enabling areas such as procurement, innovation, interoperability, and partnership with industry.”
Andreas Haimböck-Tichy, chair of the techUK health and social care council, said: “Digital technologies have already revolutionised how health and care services are delivered. Integrated care systems present the opportunity to further accelerate how citizens engage with and experience services, as well as enabling staff to work in new ways.
“Continued collaboration between the health and care sector and the technology industry will be a critical success factor in making this transformation a reality.”