Collaborating to connect care: People need to be bigger than their organisations
Jocelyn Palmer, programme manager of Connecting Care Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, argues that while information governance can be viewed by some as a barrier to sharing information, it needn’t be a blocker
It’s true that collaboration isn’t always easy. There is a constant bit of work to keep people at the table, but it’s clear that for us to move beyond the current crisis and potential crises of the future, collaboration between care services is essential.
Our Connecting Care programme contains a diverse group of organisations - hospital trusts, local authority, GP practices, community health, mental health and CCGs - but we have a common purpose. We have defined a common vision that, by sharing information securely and effectively, we will make a lasting contribution to the health and well-being and opportunity of our population.
The programme was born from a recognition locally that to improve care and patient pathways we needed to be more joined up, so that the information could follow the individual. We have created a technical platform for information sharing and a portal view. Looking ahead we want to use that technical platform to drive how members of the public can interact digitally with providers of their care – not just by viewing information but contributing digitally as well. Patients don’t necessarily want to be passive recipients of information, they want to interact and be able to share the information and knowledge they have with the people responsible for their care.
Information governance (IG) is seen by some as a barrier. There are still some people that think that IG means you can’t share information – which is just wrong - and even health and care professional who are proprietary over ‘their’ data being used. IG is just another part of the challenge to accept, it requires work but it’s not a blocker. Our relationship with the ICO’s office has really helped us to manage that challenge.
Within the programme there are political, personal, human and organisational behaviours and dimensions to work with. Recognising and working with these dimensions are just as important as working through the legal and technology aspects of the programme.
One of the things that we have really encouraged from the beginning is for people to be bigger than their organisations and to think of the organisation boundaries as being artificial. If you take the perspective of a member of the public, why should they have to try to understand it? For them the NHS should just be the NHS.
My advice to others would be to start doing something and expect some challenges, but the value of the outcomes make it worthwhile. Build partnerships and just get something out there - ask ‘how’s that?’ and then iterate.
And it’s not just about people getting along, often the most challenging conversations between health and social care colleagues can be the most valuable, bringing us to a better place and partnership.
Jocelyn Palmer is programme manager of Connecting Care Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, a nationally recognised health & social care programme and partnership that spans 3 hospital trusts, 3 local authorities, 100+ GPs, mental health, out of hours and community health providers. Jocelyn contributed to Eduserv’s recent research on health and social care integration - ‘The potential of digital’.