Angus Honeysett, Tunstall’s Head of Market Access worked with ADASS and the TSA on their recent White Paper Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all. Angus explores the importance of technology being able to support the need for integration of health and social care and the duty to collaborate where possible.

Tunstall were delighted to be part of the ADASS / TSA Commission exploring how technology can be truly integrated into health and social care. The report makes four key recommendations, but it’s more than just a series of recommendations – it’s about how we deliver them so that i. citizens benefit from better standards of care ii. social benefits are identified and embedded into society and iii. the system becomes more effective, driving solutions-based living whilst avoiding the use of high-cost services.

There are many benefits technology brings to housing, health, and social care including increased health and social care capacity in the system to cope with growing need, person-centred and community-based support, greater independence and improved quality of life for citizens and carers, early intervention reducing the need for other more costly care and professional development, aiding recruitment and retention. Whilst these are important, providing integrated solutions is key to driving these benefits.

We have a key role to play in this, making sure what we do enables citizens and improves their quality of life where possible. This isn’t simply about TEC being an enabler in more holistic service delivery, we need to engage with stakeholders early, to understand their challenges and to play a part in delivering effective co-designed solutions – we need a truly collaborative approach.

As much as we need to try and solve the issues presenting themselves today such as the move from analogue to digital, we also have to think about what comes next. Technology will play an increasing role in the way we deliver services in the future meaning we need a strategic approach, considering cultural change as well as updating processes and embedding TEC into five and ten year plans. Simply, if the culture isn’t right, we run the risk of doing what we always did, not focusing on new and more effective solutions. But cultural change is difficult. It has to start at the top, becoming an everyday way of working with teams believing in the organisational vision, so that they can drive it forward to deliver sustainable system benefits.

Technology has historically been seen as a barrier to change. There’s a fear it will replace practitioners, instead of enabling them to concentrate on helping the citizens they support, giving time for improving skills or improving staff wellbeing as set out in the NHS long term plan, whilst remembering that a motivated, engaged team will deliver far more than one that is overworked. The use of TEC needs to become a natural part of professional practice. There is currently a lack of awareness of and confidence in TEC solutions but this needs addressing across the industry. Tunstall has addressed this through the introduction of the Tunstall Academy - a series of education and training programmes - but more must be done to promote the benefits and to embed a technology first approach.

Aside from the policy push, working collaboratively is simply common sense. A large part of the population have both health and care needs so it makes sense to join them up, saving the tax payer money whilst improving the patient/citizen experience. The NHS and social care are inextricably linked, they co-exist, with success or failure in one significantly impacting on the other. They have to be collaborators, actively seeking change for the better and where legislation exists that prevents effective change, let’s look at how the legislation can be updated for the better. Integration has been a long discussed objective, but by realising the potential of technology along with taking more proactive and preventative approaches, the prospect of a true healthcare system working across health and social care is a very real possibility.

Lastly, but as the first priority, we must listen to citizens, to understand their needs and wants, and to build a system around them. Population health management relies on shared common outcomes; health and social care sharing common goals and working together to put people at the heart of decisions made about them and their care.

 

Tunstall are welcome sponsors of ADASS which furthers our charitable objectives.