The government has pledged to bridge the technology gap between the NHS and social care with a £4.5m investment.
The local authority funding, which came with a £40m plan to reduce NHS staff login times, will be used to develop digital social projects to help vulnerable people live independently for longer and improve information sharing across the NHS and social care.
As part of the plans, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock will pledge to design a model of what technology excellence looks like so that every health and social care provider knows what they need to do be outstanding in the next decade. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said providers’ digital capability would be assessed as part of the CQC’s inspection regime.
Examples of initiatives the money could fund include:
artificial intelligence with assistive technology: using sensors to establish normal behaviour for individuals, for example sleep patterns, use of kettles and walking routes, and alerting carers where there are variances;
creating shared care records which combine both medical and social care information, with NHS and care staff able to access the record; and
allowing information held by the care home to smoothly integrate into hospital IT systems as a person is admitted to hospital.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to harness the best digital technology to improve care for patients and ease the burden on our staff. And to do that, we need to get the basics right. Too often, outdated technology slows down and frustrates staff, and prevents them from giving patients their full attention and the care they deserve.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “Care England welcomes this announcement. It is a real step forward in implementing tech to create efficiencies and ensure quality to care helping people lead meaningful lives.
“The focus on easing communications between the NHS and social care will reap great rewards, and the government must ensure that the benefits from greater efficiencies filter down to the social care providers who are investing their own money in new tech. Technology, if used well, will give NHS staff and workers in social care the ‘gift of time’ to care rather than administrate.