A well-worn anecdote tells of a lost tourist driving around rural Ireland.
He asks a local man for directions to Dublin and gets the reply, “if you want to go there, I wouldn’t start from here.”
Seventy years ago, Aneurin Bevan took the first steps towards creating a national health service. Have we reached his intended destination? Did he set out from the right place?
Destination wise, it’s true, we now enjoy a universal national health service that’s free at the point of delivery. But, from the outset, Bevan’s legacy has meant splitting care provision between health and social care.
We find ourselves at a very different starting point from 1948. Ironically, the NHS’s success has led to more complex care requirements for an ageing population whose care needs are not always clinical. Integrating care services is high on the agenda and while there is a clear movement towards integration, nationally, progress is slow. It needn’t be so.
Some clinical commissioning groups and local authorities are crossing traditional boundaries and designing new models, which are transforming the way care is delivered to people. Where progress is advancing fastest, two distinct, but related factors are apparent; first, strong leadership. The second is the intelligent use of patient data.
Until recently, the concept and practicalities of sharing and linking data sets has been fraught with misunderstanding. But, it is now possible to pool data securely and legally from multiple sources across a local health economy.
Hertfordshire’s HomeFirst initiative, which includes two CCGs, the county council, a foundation trust and community services, have partnered with MedeAnalytics to link their data sets. The initiative allows what are complex and diverse sets of information to be used to deliver coordinated health and social care support for people in care homes.
It has meant a better quality of life for many vulnerable people and it has delivered much-needed efficiencies to the local health economy.
Significantly, everyone involved with the programme talks about delivering ‘care’, making no distinction between the two traditional streams.
It is a truly pioneering approach which provides a timely reminder that, as we take the next steps towards a sustainable care service, we need to set off from the right place.
The only realistic point from which to set off is to have a better understanding of a local population’s care needs and that will require better, more intelligent use of data.
Mark Davies, medical director, MedeAnalytics
Column sponsored and supplied by MedeAnalytics