Integrated Healthcare: new care model vanguards provide a blueprint for success
Dr. Donal Collins, clinical lead for the multi-specialty community provider ‘Better Local Care” in Gosport, says technology – and particularly, data – are key enablers in realising a new and better form of care
One of the main observations we can make from past attempts to better streamline and integrate healthcare delivery is the bigger the scope of the project, the higher the likelihood of failure.
But while some high profile projects hit the headlines as they gobble up money for little or no return, an increasing number of New Care Model Vanguards are making tremendous progress in delivering integrated healthcare.
The one which I work for – Better Local Care in Hampshire – brings together GPs, NHS providers and commissioners, the County Council, charity and voluntary service providers and, of course the public.
It’s one of 50 such vanguards who have been set up to identify and jointly tackle the specific health and care needs of the local community.
In our case we cover a population of over one million which includes rural, semi-rural and towns which is challenges by poor transport links, high levels of deprivation and, an ageing population.
Our focus has been to improve and simplify access to a wider range of care through GP practices and primary care hubs. By bringing more services under one roof, we can make better use of the total resources available and patients can see the person they need to see first time. We do this with multi-disciplinary teams who identify the right service and then make same-day appointments.
For health and care professionals the benefit is of improved workloads. For example in the past I would say around a third of my time was absorbed by doing work which could have been better done by another person. For patients, reducing the number of gate-keepers and referral points allows us to improve access to health care. We also know that early access to the right professional prevents problems in the future. This helps keep people healthy and away from hospital care, making the whole system more sustainable.
Technology is a key enabler in realising this new and better form of care. It has allowed us to bring together patient records into a single system of support. This has removed silos, making the care more patient centric and removing the need for patients to repeat their medical history to different professionals and staff.
But this is just the start. Having access to data in this way allows us to look more closely at the population and do predictive planning around the conditions we can expect in the future. This insight will allow us to prioritise the things we need to do today to help patients manage their own health more effectively.
By putting everyone within one system and linking data we have also been able to get around the issue of access consent – one of the key pre-requisites to making integrated healthcare a reality.
However, for all that technology and systems are important, I don’t believe we’d be making any progress without buy-in across the different organisations involved in the task to the goal of integration. We’ve been able to do that because at a local level there are clear benefits for investing in this new model of care. Without that buy-in we would just be another organisation trying to do things differently in an already complicated system for health and social care.
Dr. Donal Collins is Clinical Lead for the Multi-Specialty Community Provider ‘Better Local Care” in Gosport . He is a contributor to the Eduserv Executive Briefing Programme's report ‘Health and Social Care Integration – Confronting the Challenges’ .