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Working in Tandem: the case for integration

21st April 2015


Around 150 health and social care practitioners representing 80 health and social care providers and commissioners today attended an all-day conference on health and social care integration. Key speakers included Beverley Bryant, director of digital technology at NHS England, and Richard Humphries, assistant head of policy at the King’s Fund.

The event, called Working in Tandem, laid out the legal and practical case for shared care records and highlighted the impact of shared information on service improvement and care quality. Sharing data is also a key building block in creating the radical new care delivery options required by the NHS Five Year Forward View.

The event was jointly organised by market leading social care systems provider Liquidlogic, healthcare specialist System C and shared record supplier Graphnet. The three companies have similar ownership structures and are working closely together to push forward the boundaries of data sharing in support of national integrated care initiatives.

The King’s Fund’s Richard Humphries opened the conference by remarking that this was his fourth decade talking about health and social care integration. He stated that although the evidence base in support of integrated care was still unclear, The King’s Fund was firmly behind the integration of services. Things were now moving, but surprisingly, "the best examples of integrated care I have seen have been provider rather than commissioner driven," he said.

Beverley Bryant referenced the National Information Board ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020, A Framework for Action’ which states, from April 2016 any new technology funds will be invested in innovative solutions, to support existing service providers to stimulate new offerings that enable integration and coordination of services.

The conference also heard from leading practitioners who were sharing data to break down organisational barriers and join care pathways. These included John Glover, director of IM&T, operational planning and performance at Countess of Chester Hospital & NHS Trust, Andy Kinnear, director of informatics at NHS South CSU and the Hampshire Health Record, and Michael Woolcott, head of information services at the London Borough of Islington. Between them, speakers at the conference represented shared record systems incorporating 240 GP practices, 6 acute trusts, 2 specialist cancer trusts, 3 mental health trusts and 5 councils.

At the conference, speakers agreed to create a library of standard processes and documentation including methodology and supporting agreements for data sharing in order to accelerate and simplify new projects across the UK.

Beverley Bryant said: "Seeing so many social services directors, NHS organisations, suppliers and the centre coming together to discuss how to achieve interoperable records is fantastic. We want to see more of it. After all, everything we all want to do achieve with the NHS and social care is being done somewhere. We’re just not good at spreading best practice."

Speakers also agreed that the integration of services across health and social care was no longer simply an option but was a duty. The sharing of information, and the IT systems which support it, were the ‘electronic glue’ that makes integration possible.

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