News, Tunstall Healthcare

Devolution & health outcomes: Getting a seat at the table


Gavin Bashar, UK&I Managing Director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses the importance of ensuring all key stakeholders, including citizens, get a seat at the table to link up care and ensure access to technology.

As a nation we are living longer and we have the information we need to make healthier and better-informed choices. However, having the right information is only the beginning. The next stage, which integrated care systems (ICSs) and their empowered integrated care boards (ICBs), will provide significant direction on, is using this information in the right way to meet the aims and objectives of our health and social care services.

As ICBs establish themselves, we will begin to see citizens and service providers become more engaged across the board and the beginning of the distribution of the £150m of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and digitisation across the health and care landscape. This in turn will create a more connected and intelligent world that enables a collaborative approach to the delivery of efficient, proactive and integrated health and social care services.

Engaging with citizens

If citizens are to have a seat at the table, with health and social care services centred around them, we must engage effectively and actively listen to their concerns and needs. Relationships should be based on partnership, flexibility and a commitment to citizen success, rather than one-off transactional interactions. A sustainable future for the long-term funding of essential services must be a priority if we are to realise a positive vision which puts people at the heart of delivery.

Before ICBs, many public commissioning and procurement processes were hampered by fragmented funding, a shortage of high-quality evidence-based services and a lack of involvement of the appropriate citizens’ voices in decision making. These challenges of course made it extremely difficult for professionals and care providers to fully engage with citizens and deliver effective care that would effectively prevent more complex requirements.

Engaging with citizens can help to ensure that valuable solutions involving technology are appropriate, accessible, practically useful and as such, less likely to be abandoned.

As services become more efficient and citizen outcomes are improved, it will become easier to deliver cost efficiencies. Improved condition management and medication compliance through greater engagement for example has a clear impact on decreasing GP visits, clinicians are able to target patients that need support, and early intervention can prevent future, often high cost, care requirements.

By engaging closely with citizens and their communities with the help of ICSs, it is possible to create an environment in which they have the freedom to live life to the full in a place of their choice, with the people and things that they love, doing the things that matter most, through care and support that is inclusive, accessible and innovative.

Collaboration to drive links

To drive links between social care, primary care and wider community services it’s important to consider the crucial role of collaboration. ICSs will help with the integration of services and drive collaboration between service providers. A large majority of the population have both health and social care needs, and it makes sense for a collaborative approach to become the norm as this will contribute to an improvement in health outcomes and cost savings.

Collaborative services will be the first step to start reducing the silos that currently exist between health, housing and social care and encourage care provision that is tailored to the individual who needs it. Through collaboration we’ll be able to deliver joined up care so that people accessing health and social care services can experience them as seamlessly as possible.

However, local authorities and health and social care providers continue to grapple with workforce shortages, case backlogs and an increase in the complexity and level of need of the population. This hampers the ability to drive forward with collaborative working as we are too focused on meeting these short-term challenges to have the time to consider longer term approaches.

ICBs have a number of aims, with one being to deliver transformation in order to improve how our systems operate. By focusing on this, they’ll be able to encourage collaboration between partners and professionals, with a strong focus and determination on delivering person-centred care and support.

Providing universal access to technology and software support

The integration of technology and its increased use have long been seen as a key part of transforming health and social care. However, the system has been slow to adopt innovations and tends to view technology as a way of managing people’s care. This is partly due to the growing number of solutions that are available, which make selecting, commissioning and implementing a complex task.

With the ICBs now holding statutory powers, we are at a pivotal time that will shape our services and the use and deployment of technology for decades to come. The ability to transition to a system that can provide universal access to new technologies that manage, analyse and harvest actionable intelligence will be crucial to the success of the health and care industry in the future.

Using technology to support people is relatively low cost, meaning citizens can stay at home for longer with an increased quality of life. Digital solutions can also empower staff to work more efficiently, reduce bureaucracy and enable them to spot changes in people’s behaviour.

Integration and investment in technology will enable the reconfiguration and integration of services. It’s essential that service providers and the service users are involved in the digital transformation if they are to innovate, embrace technology successfully, and deliver new approaches which create benefits for citizens.

By working closely with ICBs, technology providers will be able to citizens, their communities and the workforce to invest in value-generating digital solutions that improve lives and drive the prospects of businesses.

Moving forward

Through collaboration and investment in the right services and solutions, such as digital technology enabled care solutions, it will be possible to improve citizen experience and support improved quality and reliability of services, which are tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals. With the engagement of ICBs, there is the potential to move towards a system where it is standard practice to use technology to manage long-term health conditions and deliver efficient and personalised care.

A digital transformation will create a predictive environment that highlights behaviour changes and forecasts the need for extra support. It will join up stakeholders and provide a better opportunity for planning, giving a clearer picture of those with vulnerable needs.

I hope that ICBs will provide a new kind of leadership that can deliver change and tighten up governance, while at the same time improving the working lives and motivation of employees and the health and wellbeing of our population. The healthier the population becomes, and the more they learn about the benefits of technology within health and social care provision, the more able we’ll be to engage with citizens, give them a seat at the table and link up care.

This is a sponsored article.

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