The government has pledged to bridge the technology gap between the NHS and social care with a £4.5m investment.
The funding, which came with a £40m plan to reduce NHS staff login times, will be given to local authorities to develop digital adult social care projects to support the most vulnerable in society to live independently for longer.
The investment will also help improve information sharing across the NHS and social care.
As part of the plans, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock will commit to designing a model of what technology excellence looks like so that every health and social care provider knows what they need to do be outstanding in the next decade. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said providers’ digital capability would be assessed as part of the CQC’s inspection regime.
Examples of initiatives the money could fund include using assistive technology to establish normal behaviour for individuals living at home and prevent hospital admissions; creating shared care records which combine medical and social care information, with medical and care staff able to access the record; and allowing information held by a care provider to integrate into hospital IT systems as a person is admitted to hospital.
“I want to harness the best digital technology to improve care for patients and ease the burden on our staff. And to do that, we need to get the basics right. Too often, outdated technology slows down and frustrates staff, and prevents them from giving patients their full attention and the care they deserve,” Hancock said.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said the news is a “real step forward” in implementing tech to create efficiencies and ensure quality to care helping people lead meaningful lives.
“The focus on easing communications between the NHS and social care will reap great rewards, and the government must ensure that the benefits from greater efficiencies filter down to the social care providers who are investing their own money in new tech,” he added.
“Technology, if used well, will give NHS staff and workers in social care the ‘gift of time’ to care rather than administrate.