Last month the HSJ announced plans to integrated health and social care data (July 5th, pp. 6-7). The purpose is specific to support care commissioning, but ...
The related topic of integrated care is a round-robin element of policy debate. It may go quiet for a time, but it is there, needing to be fed in successive governmental and policy turns.
You might reasonably expect that integrated health and social care data, would be a by-product of integrated care. So the fact that data integration remains a 'to-do' demonstrates the patchwork nature of care integration and the many levels by which it can be defined: commissioning, practice (within domain) across care domains, budget, teams - disciplines, service organisations, care and education, public involvement and data.
I hope the integration of health and social care data at the commissioning level might also put data into the hands of clinicians and social care teams - integrated of course!
The local insights that could flow would represent a real, tangible benefit. The news item stresses the potential value for commissioners. There are as ever several caveats:
- To what extent can health and social care staff influence the shape of the dataset?
- Is it crystallized (centralised) already?
- Can the new role for councils in public health finally ignite the GIS torch to illuminate what is really happening in the local community?
So - come on policy people, commissioners and managers, don't leave the workforce out of the loop. Staff on the ground are disoriented enough by the relentless pace of change. They need a sat-nav for care. Give them the torch they need.
What is that you say? They don't have the time to critique their (integrated) practice, to formulate their questions. And anyway - they don't have the access or the skills to use the informatics resources, let alone the nous to interpret the data! Well, if that is the case then shame on you.