Turning Integrated Health and Social Care Into Reality

Norman Lamb’s announcements on moving towards better integrated health and social care provision have been widely welcomed. And how can you disagree really? It has to be better for service users not to have to ‘retell their story’, as he puts it every time they encounter a new service. Better service integration and improved information flows should also be good for service providers in terms of standards of care and overall efficiency.  But while we’re agreed about the ‘what’ the ‘how’ seems a bit sketchier.

Integrated Health and Social Care

Getting different elements to mesh fully can be a challenge

There’s no doubt that information sharing and mobile technology are in the plan, and rightly so. We know that giving other agencies managed access to care-plans and other information about service users can make a real difference and delivers on the critical point of telling your story only once.

Mobile Domiciliary Care Management

We also know that mobile technology and a good domiciliary care management system play a big part in having the right person, delivering the right care, at the right time and place. The big question is how will all of this be implemented on a national scale?

The Health Service and government departments in general, don’t have a great track record of delivering systems that allow different agencies and providers to share information on a large scale. Such systems are hard to specify, hard to cost, and often just about impossible to implement. It will be interesting to see what route the government decides to take.

Even if it is the chosen route, any large scale IT infrastructure (national, regional or whatever) will probably be a long way away. I find it hard to see how it could be in place by the 2018 deadline that Norman Lamb has announced. This leaves the prospect of service providers being open to scrutiny and possibly financial penalties for failing to deliver, while the tools lag behind the policy.

A More Optimistic (and Realistic) View

Can you be both more optimistic and more realistic at the same time? I believe so.  Better integration of Health and Social Care makes sense. And if we recognise the benefits to service users and service providers, perhaps we shouldn’t be waiting for a megalithic, all embracing system but making better and more widespread use of what’s already available.

There are several domiciliary care management systems available (including CareForIT) that offer most of what the government wants to achieve: mobile access to care plans and service user information, secure access for other agencies, and so on. If it makes sense to be doing all of this in 2018, then surely it makes sense to be doing it now.

Integrated Health and Social Care Today

Such systems are also affordable (a standard CareForIT package costs providers just £50 per month) and have other benefits for service providers such as simplified rostering, billing and staff management.

There may be some kind of national database in the future, or there may not. The point is that the tools you need to deliver more integrated health and social care are here today, so why not use them to their full potential?

Dan Farrell-Wright, Technical Director CareForIT

Do you run or manage a domiciliary care business? I’d love to talk to you about your business and how you’d like technology to help you deliver better care more efficiently.

Call me on 08455 44 32 11 or email dan@webformed.co.uk

Image Creative Commons License ralphbijker via Compfight

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