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Integrated care and informatics: the challenge and the opportunities

Published 17 June 2016

Well thought-out informatics systems can serve as the building blocks of a fully integrated digital hospital that works seamlessly with GP services, argues Neha Ralhan

 

The importance of integrated care is a repeated narrative within the NHS with clinicians and administrators alike outlining the critical role multidisciplinary teams play in providing coordinated, holistic care.

Due to an inherently fragmented system and ongoing austerity measures within the NHS, the integration of health and social care is increasingly seen as the answer to a range of ills, but also presents a range of challenges due to the current healthscape.

In order to roll out integrated care, as the NHS's preferred model as specified within the Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework, it is agreed that the technology will underpin clinical incentives and system redesign.

This will be done by linking previously siloed healthcare systems via the management of data rich networks of information - collection, maintenance and appropriate access. In real terms, this will see a redirection of health ICT investments towards comprehensive informatics systems and supporting infrastructure such as cloud services.

With this in mind, factoring in best practice, clinical accreditation and overarching NHS policy, successful informatics systems will allow for:

- Standardisation of data across multiple platforms that builds on accepted clinical care protocols and care pathways;
- Effective benchmarking across the NHS through the development of meaningful quality measures;
- Establishment of comprehensive alert coding with inbuilt controls (that works as an early dedication and public health planning tool for clinicians and fosters patient ownership of health outcomes);
- Optimization of data including appropriate tools that ensuring accuracy of data collection and relevant data sets/fields in the first instance; and
- Inbuilt integration of security measures such as credentialing, user report cards, and authentication in line with legislation and best practice standards.

A well thought-out informatics system can be used as both the building block of a fully integrated digital hospital that works seamlessly with GP services and allied health. Alternatively, informatics can also assist in overcoming a slower transformation of ICT services by providing a valuable precursor.

Kable will be discussing developments in the sphere of integrated care as facilitated by technology, including the scope of applications, within a number of research reports this year. For more information, contact clientservices@kable.co.uk

Neha Ralhan is a senior analyst specialising in healthcare.

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