News, Thought Leadership

Integrated care and service transformation – the role of experience


Emil Peters, Group CEO at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses the role of experience for all stakeholders within the health and social care systems, and how ICSs will enable improvements to care provision and delivery for all.

When it comes to the transformation of health and care services, there have been numerous iterations of reforms. The current implementation of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) in my view, presents an opportunity to truly transform our services and become a global leader within the health and care landscape.

However, it is important to remember that there are still key issues that need to be addressed at the heart of the health and social care landscape if we’re going to innovate and improve the care that health systems are able to provide the population. Addressing the concerns of all stakeholders, from users and residents to professionals and leaders in health and social care, and where technology sits within this, will give us a good chance of working with ICSs to create a landscape that is able to effectively serve everyone.

Experience is key

Experience matters, but not only in the traditional sense. While there are many key facets involved in the development and transformation of services, the experiences of patients, the workforce, and the entire community are crucial. If we align with these stakeholders and their lived experiences, we can begin to change the health and social care landscape.

Identifying the needs of each individual, and understanding that every population is made up of a set of people, will make it easier to deliver better services. If the entire ecosystem works in harmony, citizens will receive better care and their outcomes will be improved. It’ll also mean that health systems are better equipped to meet the expectations of the population when it comes to care delivery.

It will also be essential to keep the experiences of the workforce, from challenges to working practices, at the forefront. If we can meet the various needs of professionals, it will be easier to engage with them, and they will be more open to trying and deploying new solutions and services, such as technology. Ultimately, if professionals are cared for first, the care of citizens is likely to be improved in a consistent and sustainable way. While professionals keep in mind the compensated workforce, must also include the voluntary sector as a vital cog in our ability to deliver the lived experience we all want.

By working together, the health system will be better equipped to navigate care provision for residents and the community when it is required. We’ll know what the care is going to look like, how we’re going to deliver it, and communicate to service users what they can expect. This in turn will give them the information they need to become empowered and able to make the best decisions for themselves. As people become more empowered and involved in their own health, wellbeing and care provision, their outcomes are much more likely to improve.

Experience and technology

Technology has a key part to play in enabling the UK to become a global leader in the health and social care space, but a holistic view which looks beyond technology on its own is vital. While digital solutions have the ability to become sustainable if done right, focusing on how users interact with technology will also be crucial.

Regardless of the huge range of technology that is available and the incredible features that it can provide, it’s the people involved who will enable the true potential of digital solutions to be reached. If the experience of users and caregivers with technology is subpar, it’ll be difficult to deliver digital solutions that are sustainable and impactful.

When it comes to the public’s perceptions of the nation’s health services, many people consider the different levels and organisations of health and care in the UK to be effectively joined up, rather than the reality where many are working in silo. Investing in technology will enable an environment where the workforce can share vital information, communicate effectively and provide better care for residents. This in turn will create better outcomes for everyone involved and will promote care that is tailored to every individual within the care system, whether it be a nurse, a patient, or a family member.

The more that professionals are able to engage with digital solutions, the more that their time will be freed up to listen to the people that they care for. Patients and service users are very aware of the care that they are receiving, particularly when it comes to the small things, and technology can help to change their perception in a positive way.

Integrated care systems and their role

It’s important that stakeholders look beyond the monetary gains that can be achieved through the successful implementation and integration of ICSs and ICBs. If service transformation is viewed solely through the lens of finance, it’s easy to forget about the people and stakeholders who actually make the transformation possible and how they can be engaged.

ICSs can help us to involve all people from the top down, and provide the tools that to support everyone and deliver proactive and preventative care. Both the health and social care services are ultimately caring industries, with the majority of professionals working within them to support the health and wellbeing of communities through effective care provision.

ICSs are also giving us the opportunity to work with groups beyond the immediate health and social care sectors that are still able to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of residents. For many, good health begins in the community, and so if ICSs can engage with organisations and places such as public libraries, this will lead to better care across the board. It’s also important to focus more on upstream interventions and maintaining wellbeing to reduce the pressures on acute services and promote good health.

ICSs have provided a unique opportunity to merge the health and social care workforce across the spectrum, and optimise the experience of these professionals. The improved collaborations through ICSs should also support a reduction in the fear of the workforce when it comes to adopting new products and services, such as technology, and working closely together to embed them into new models of care. Collaboration will be key to supporting an improvement in the lived experiences of the populations we serve.

This article was kindly sponsored by Tunstall Healthcare.

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