News, Secondary Care

New funding to digitise information flow between adult social care and health settings

Local authorities, residential and domiciliary adult social care providers, researchers, academic organisations working in partnership with health organisations are being invited to apply for new funding to enable better sharing of social care and clinical information and data.

The NHS Digital funding, split into three streams, is designed to support integrated care and positive outcomes for people accessing social care and health services.

The first funding stream totals £1.1m for ‘demonstrator areas’ to adopt or develop digital products and services to transfer information from clinical into adult social care settings, with the aim of increasing the quality and efficiency of care.

The organisations will be encouraged to use existing digital technology such as NHSmail (the secure email service used by the NHS) and the online Medical Discharge Summary (MDS) given at the end of a hospital stay.

The second funding stream for £233,000 is to investigate what information is currently flowing from adult social care into health systems and what more might be needed to improve joined up care. This could include information about a person’s frailty index rating, recent hydration history, or other relevant measures.

For both these funding streams, applications are invited from adult social care providers with voluntary or charity sector status and from local government authorities in partnership with independent adult social care providers. For both grants, applicants will need to demonstrate strong commitment for the project from their chosen health partner.

The final funding stream of £250,000 is for local authorities and research organisations to explore and demonstrate the use of predictive analytics to prevent or predict long-term social care need. Funding recipients will also assess the ethical implications in relation to the use of predictive analytics in social care – for example how people’s privacy, confidentiality and human rights will be preserved.

James Palmer, Programme Lead for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital commented: “Our engagement with the adult social care sector has demonstrated that when health care settings share existing, appropriate clinical information with those delivering care in residential and home settings, it can result in better support for people accessing services. The first funding stream is designed to make that information transfer happen and monitor the outcomes.

“We have also established that there is an appetite within care providers to explore how the information they hold could be used in clinical settings to benefit patients. However, we don’t yet know what information might be helpful in a clinical setting. The second stream of funding is intended to encourage health organisations to work with social care partners to explore how information might need to flow the other way, from adult social care into health.

“These demonstrators will be chosen on the basis that their work could be replicated easily to deliver benefits quickly for the system and pave the way for a truly integrated future. The work that we’re asking applicants to undertake on predictive analytics is significant given its potential to support people at earlier stages. We know that this is an area fraught with ethical considerations that have not yet been clearly defined or agreed. Through the provision of this funding, we want to begin to understand both how predictive analytics could and should be used in the provision of social care.”

Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults at the Department for Health and Social Care, said: “This funding is important in improving people’s experience of social care. Timely access to accurate information is essential to supporting the efficient co-ordination of person-centred care. This includes for example what medication people are taking, what allergies people might suffer from and any personal preferences people have in how they are looked after.

“This can all be delivered so much more quickly and accurately by the digital transfer of records through secure channels, or by more intelligent use of data, whilst maintaining privacy, respecting confidentiality and upholding people’s rights. I would urge eligible organisations across the country to step forward and be part of helping to bridge the current information gap between health care and social care settings.”

Deadline for applications: 10am, Monday 02 July.

For more information and to apply, click here, go to Current Opportunities and select Digital Social Care Demonstrators.