IT industry association flags up need to re-establish momentum in adopting digital technology for health and social care
Representatives of the IT industry have said there is a need for new funding models for personal digital care, along with a reassertion of the case for its adoption and more collaboration and integration between organisations.
IT industry association techUK has made the call in a Personal Digital Care Paper published today. It says a number of barriers are in the way of wider adoption and that steps need to be taken in three areas to provide a fresh momentum to take-up of the technology.
One of these is to provide adequate funding models and appropriate commissioning, with new options such as giving clinical commissioning groups the ability to change pricing and payment tariffs to encourage use of the technologies. It cites the example of NHS Scotland’s Integrated Care Fund and says it could apply to local government as well as NHS organisations.
There should also be more outcomes based commissioning, giving healthcare professionals more scope for new ways of delivering care, and a use of existing financial incentives to make use of the technology. This could include exploring the use of Commissioning for Quality and Innovation indicators to encourage integrated care and link it to patient outcomes.
Existing government initiatives such as the Better Care Fund and Vanguards for New Models of Care could also be used, and there should be more evaluation and monitoring of patients.
Make the case
The two other main steps are to: re-establish the case for personal digital care, with a comprehensive review of evidence and best practice; and ensure that service providers and IT suppliers work more closely to ensure there is there is better system integration and interoperability.
The latter requires nationally defined interoperability standards. Although the document does not highlight the move, earlier in the year techUK published an Interoperability Charter for health and social care technology.
The paper also says that making better use of digital technology will involve a “cultural mid shift”, in which clinicians have to accept that they have a more peripheral role in dealing with patients.
It also outlines the barriers to adopting the technology:
- Imbalanced incentives, in which the benefits for implementing personal digital care often go to a different organisation to the one that commissions it.
- Limited information integration, with more than 800 organisations and a patchwork of IT systems.
- Limits on accessibility and awareness.
- System instability, with funding and process change beyond the first year often not considered as part of the business case.
- Mixed evidence on the success of the technology.
Natalie Bateman, head of health and social care at techUK, said: “Personal digital care has the potential to underpin the transformation to human-centric care across the NHS and local government. However, there are significant barriers to overcome if we are to unlock the potential value for patients and clients, carers, health and care providers and the UK economy, including the need for a cultural mind-shift amongst health and care professionals and greater integration of information.
“There needs to be a holistic step change in processes and practices in the system, driven by better collaboration and integration between the public and private sector, in order to achieve Jeremy Hunt’s ambition for Patient Power.”
Image by Daniel Sone (photographer), public domain via Wikimedia Commons