A group of local authorities that provide and commission adult social care services have been awarded £4.5 million to support the roll out of projects using digital technology.
NHS Digital has released details of the 16 projects that have been selected to receive a Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant, which supports products and services that have already been piloted in small local areas – with the view to implementing them on a larger scale.
The successful Digital Pathfinders will now commence a 13-month implementation phase with projects predominantly looking at standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing that information between multiple health and care organisations.
The investment is part of the NHS’ Digital Transformation Portfolio and follows the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s pledge to bridge the technology gap between the NHS and social care.
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Bridging the technology gap between the NHS and social care is a central part of achieving a health and care service that is fit for the future. This £4.5 million investment will support local areas to improve information sharing across services, ensuring people avoid hospital unless absolutely necessary and helping everyone live independently for longer.”
Digital Pathfinders include Wirral Council, which is working to scale up the ‘digital discharge’ process for hospital patients who require care and support when they are discharged. The system sends information directly to a local authority’s social care system ahead of a patient being discharged and where there is a change in circumstances removing for the need for assessment.
The process has found to improve early discharge performance, reduce delayed transfers of care, reduce readmissions and reduce the length of stay in a hospital bed.
South Gloucestershire Council and London Borough of Sutton, meanwhile, are working to recognise care homes as ‘Partners in Care’ by developing the ‘digital red bag’. This involves providing care homes with access to the existing Local Health and Care Record (LHCR) portals, which allow information to be shared across GPs, hospitals and other local organisations to support continuity of care.
Pam Garraway Senior Responsible Officer for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital said: “I’m delighted to see so many exciting digital projects now underway – every one of which has the potential to benefit the whole health and social care sector.
“What makes it so exciting is the fact that these projects aren’t working in isolation, as they perhaps would have done in the past. They are working collectively to drive standards and solve problems, which is why we are confident that all of the pathfinder projects can be replicated easily.
“This isn’t just about best practice pilots. Once this work is finalised, we fully expect areas will be able to go out and use these products and implement them locally – safe in the knowledge that they are tried and tested.”
Other organisations to receive support are:
- Bexley Council – Remote monitoring and predictive data analytics to support a person’s wellbeing; and the development of an evidential base to demonstrate the interdependence of social, physical, mental health and social care outcomes.
- Bristol City Council – Real time coordination of packages of care and digital workflows across its Integrated Care Bureau.
- Friends of the Elderly – Roll out of integration acoustic monitoring technology with digital care planning.
- Hft (learning disabilities charity) – Making the My Health Guide for learning disabilities available to larger groups.
- Islington Council – Scaling up the use of free text for predictive analytics to four local authorities in north London.
- Lancashire County Council – Implementation of digital discharge messaging service and integration with local care record.
- Leicestershire County Council – Roll out of NHSmail and access to electronic patient record to care providers.
- National Care Forum – Creating a network of innovation hubs to help the care sector embrace digital innovation.
- Manchester City Council – Extending the digital discharge service to 11 local authorities in the region.
- Nottinghamshire County Council – Developing interoperability standards across health and social care in partnership with national programmes. The aim is to scale this nationally to at least two local health and care record organisations.
- Westminster City Council – Expansion of care information exchange to care providers, local authorities and carers, scaling it up to four local authorities and two trusts in north-west London.
- Wolverhampton City Council – Extend the range of artificial intelligence and machine learning into areas such as delayed discharges, housing and education.
- Worcestershire County Council – Extend AI and data modelling into telecare and assistive technology.