Person Centred Software founder and director Jonathan Papworth looks at why health and social care digital interoperability is taking so long to become the norm.
There is a government commitment to enable the digital sharing of information across health and social care. The entire sector is expected to be digital by 2024 – and there is little doubt that the regulator will make digital care systems mandatory to support this objective.
But there is no need to see any of this as anything other than immensely positive. Over 100 care homes are connected with the GP records for their residents already, ensuring they know the medical needs of a new admission without having to wait for paperwork, which can take up to a week to arrive.
Already, care homes are sending their Red Bag information digitally to ambulance crews and hospitals in the event of emergency admission to the hospital. The benefits of digitally connected social care and health care are indisputable in terms of benefits to people in care, the only question is, why is interoperability taking so long to become the norm?
The NHS is a complex beast and, until recently, had very little understanding of the social care sector. The recent White Paper shows the government only sees social care through the eyes of local authorities.
The NHS is divided between nationally enabled, digital interoperability and locally-based health and care records. Wherever there is an opportunity for confusion then intransigence can prevail – and the opportunities for care providers to dismiss the benefits of the digital connected world take precedence.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of digital care systems embracing joined up care, and each is enabling connectivity with health systems in several different ways so that whatever route the NHS chooses, the social care sector can connect.