Integrated Care in the NHS
Hello all, newbies and oldies alike. If you’re new to the scheme, Welcome! My email address is at the bottom of the blog if you have any questions. I’ve been on the scheme for a year now and I’m still not sure if I’ve got the hang of this blogging thing but oh well. I’m almost 2 weeks in to my Flexi placement and I wanted to share with you some thoughts about some of the work I have been doing surrounding Integrated Care and Digital Transformation.
I think the world would agree when I say that the NHS does a lot with very little and for years has been performing phenomenally despite rising pressures and increasing demands on its services. The only trouble is that the way things are going within our health and care system, the NHS in its current form is unsustainable – and research suggests it will not manage future changes in the care it delivers if the way in which it approaches health and care do not change.
Case studies from across the globe show that the UK is not alone in this struggle. Many comparable countries are suffering the same pressures and similar challenges to our NHS – but some are making waves by shaking up their healthcare practices by taking the leap and reorganising the way in which they deliver health and social care.
Landmark work to transform the way in which Canterbury, New Zealand delivers its healthcare services has been ongoing for around 11 years. Their “bigger picture” or “ideal world” they envisioned initially illustrated by a pictogram that placed the patient at the center of the service and displayed connected services radiating out from their home – with the hospital on the outside of the ring, not at the heart of the health system. The plan agreed that services should enable people to take more responsibility for their own health and well-being; that as far as possible people should stay well in their own homes and communities; and that when people need complex care it should be timely and appropriate. To achieve these goals a new way of working deemed was essential.
Canterbury now has a system in which good-quality general practice is increasingly keeping patients who do not need to be in hospital out of it; is treating them swiftly once there; and discharging them safely to good community support.
This is an example of Integrated Care – a buzz word often used to describe how multiple services should align to work for people rather than for organisations. In previous blogs I have talked about how we need to innovate if we want to stay current and I have talked about how technology can often be an enabler for these sorts of changes, but not the change itself. Here, technology would enable clinicians to finally have that single source of truth – a shared information source that pools information from multiple systems in to one accessible, holistic format. As psychology research develops, we hear more and more about how humans are complex and multi-faceted, so having this holistic source of data (relating to everything from acute care, care in general practice, to social care plans, community plans, wellbeing information, mental health conditions, activity levels, wearable technology data) has been shown to improve care both inside and outside of hospitals.
Acute hospitals are the most expensive place to treat patients, and time and time again we see patients taken in to A&E or admitted to hospital who just do not need to be there. Integrating our care practices could mean having care pathways that work best for the individual, so they can receive the right care in the right place and at the right time.
During your orientation I would encourage you to start thinking about how integrating care and information could change the way we deliver health and social care. I think you’ll start to realise how fragmented and isolated parts of a person’s care journey can be.
As always, any questions:
And add me on LinkedIn: Nicole.Child