Service deliveryAdult Social CareNew funding to improve care through technology welcomed

New funding to improve care through technology welcomed

NHS England announces plans to create joined-up information capabilities across the health and care system

Socitm, the professional association for digital leaders in local public services, has welcomed NHS England’s announcement of funding to create joined-up information capabilities across the health and care system.

Three areas, covering 14 million people, have been chosen to become ‘Local Health and Care Record Exemplars’ (LHCRE). Each new partnership will receive up to £7.5m over two years to put in place an electronic shared local health and care record that makes the relevant information about people instantly available to everyone involved in their care and support.

The LHCRE programme aims to help health and care services continually improve treatments, ensure that care is tailored to the needs of each individual and can empower people to look after themselves better and make informed choices about their own health and care.

 

Simplifying, standardising and sharing 

Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, said: “This announcement is a further step towards simplifying, standardising and sharing health and care record initiatives already taking place around the country. This will mean better support to enable people’s needs to be addressed early and to avoid the stress of explaining their circumstances over and over again to different care and health professionals.

“Starting at the local level is a tried and tested way to achieve workable solutions. We believe that the emphasis of these projects and their funding should be on sharing their practice, so that it can be adopted and adapted into the prevailing conditions in all parts of the country.”

Benefits of shared care and health information include reduction in repeat or duplicate tests and hospital admissions, safeguarding of children and adults and helping to deliver relevant care and health services more effectively. A key element of these projects will be to build public trust, by ensuring that their data is used in an ethical and secure manner reflecting their concerns and consent.

Ferguson added: “Socitm looks forward to supporting its members involved in these projects and to using its networks throughout local public services to share the knowledge, experience and practice more widely.”

Russ Charlesworth, director of health and social care with Socitm Advisory, also welcomed the funding announcement. “These exemplars will share regional intelligence and capabilities to scale solutions that provide new levels of data and information collaboration across localities to better understand and promote the well-being of their populations,” he said.

“The planned architectures and interoperability maps will provide an unprecedented level of information sharing across a regional health and social care economy. We’re fast reaching a point where the limiting factor in achieving integrated care is no longer technological capability. Many of the challenges revolve around designing then adopting new innovative ways of working that tackle prevention and reduce regional service variation. These rely on the technology as an enabler, but are much more about attitude and expectation change from practitioners and the public than a migration to improved technology.”

Charlesworth added: “In many of the proposals there was an overriding sense that local authorities were starting to be viewed as equal partners alongside NHS Trusts and CCGs in enabling regional progress. This has been a long time coming and the successful delivery of emerging care models can only benefit from the greater influence of social care leadership and best practices.”

 

Raising the bar

Will Smart, chief information officer for Health and Care, added: “Through Local Health and Care Record Exemplars we are raising the bar for how the NHS can improve care through technology.

“By sharing information across a larger population, we can ensure that as people move across the different parts of the NHS and social care they don’t have to repeat themselves and provide the same information time and again.

“We were very impressed by the standard of bids we received and the ambition across the country, and in the coming weeks we will be talking to those remaining areas to understand which two are ready to join the initial group this year.”

The selected areas are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Wessex
  • One London

NHS England will work with the other sites that bid to join the programme over the next few weeks to understand more about their plans and how it can work with them to help realise their ambitions.

Each Local Health and Care Record Exemplar will work on a larger scale than existing local projects, providing healthcare staff who need it access to the information they need for people’s individual care.

Each Local Health and Care Record Exemplar is made up of either one or multiple Sustainability Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

The new partnerships will also work to better understand demand for local services and to plan effectively for future demand.

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