Show me the data: creating transformative insight by integrating health and social care data with care technology data
This article was first published in ADASS
“Data will talk if you’re willing to listen.” Jim Bergeson
If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it’s that ‘we must be guided by the data…’ next slide please!
Often data can provide powerful insight, but only when, in the words of Jim Bergeson, we are willing to listen.
Care technology (the use of equipment, sensors and applications) delivered well can provide positive outcomes to individuals and the health and care system. However, its full potential remains untapped as few care technology services have been able to unlock the value of the data created. In February 2021, a UK government white paper set out an ambition to provide legislative support for the integration and innovation of health and social care, including exploiting the potential of digital and data, much like the ambition of the Local Health and Care Record programme. The white paper seeks to tear down the inherent barriers to true integration. The idea of using data generated by care technology services to support this integration sounds great in theory. However, in practice, it is not easy to know where to start.
Enabling truly integrated data flows may seem like an exercise in boiling the ocean, but we have identified three key areas to tackle on this journey.
1. Vision - collaboratively create a vision for the future
System-wide collaboration can only be achieved when a genuine and shared vision provides the impetus to break down artificial barriers that prevent integration and encourages innovative behaviours. The vision focuses the mind on doing things differently, providing a platform for health and social care colleagues to change and promotes working jointly to access actionable insight from across the system.
2. Technical - facilitating full system integration
A world where data follows the patient, with no barriers, will enable optimal clinical decision making. Establishing algorithms that can detect patterns in care technology and health data has the potential to enable proactive action and support prevention. Combining discharge information with care technology activity to trigger an automated welfare call could prompt support before that fall occurs. This can only happen if we embrace digital and overcome the information governance challenges of system-wide interoperability.
3. Contractual - developing innovative incentive-based funding models
Thinking differently about incentivisation, funding and joint commissioning opportunities are integral to achieving return on investment across the whole system. It is essential contractual arrangements promote rather than stifle collaboration to truly support the COVID-19 recovery and prioritise the success of the system as a whole.
Integrating data as an everyday practice, without adding extra systems, can be mutually beneficial for citizens and for the health and social care systems. Not only does it have the potential to improve quality of life but also provide financial benefits and save frontline staff time.
Amidst a world of change, the ‘ideal’ does not seem as impossible as it once was – now is the time to be ingenious. We know the technology and data are increasingly available, the challenge facing the health and social care system is to create the conditions to be able to listen to it.