While each of these vanguards has taken a different approach, across the projects there are a number of core principles that underpin the successful harnessing of new technology.
The starting point for any project should be the perspective of the end users. Both the technological solutions and wider projects should be co-produced with people who use services and clinicians to ensure that the solutions are anchored in their needs and experiences, as well as business requirements. Positive user experience is absolutely essential: this means thinking through every aspect of the technology, from the digital literacy levels of users to log on requirements for clinicians. Project teams should plan for the ongoing training and support needs of users – these do not stop when the project goes live.
This report shows the scale of the challenge to integrate data across health and social care systems. But integration is essential if we are to ensure that people experience joined up services in which they only have to tell their story once and feel confident that up-to-date information is being safely shared between teams involved in their care. The case studies demonstrate that while information governance requirements can be complex to navigate, they do not need to become an obstacle to change. Teams need to consider privacy and be clear on the purpose of data sharing from the outset, and involve the right people to advise them on all aspects of information governance.
Harnessing technology requires the health and care system to model return on investment and payment systems differently. We need to also consider, for example, the value of more timely treatments and greater integration between services, while the tariff needs to have mechanisms in place to incentivise remote consultations. To do this, providers and commissioners need to work together on creative solutions. We also need to recognise the pace of technological change and ensure that the standard operating systems that services rely on are advanced enough to support innovative technologies.
The vanguards show the potential for technology to enhance, rather than replace, existing services. This requires teams to think through how the solutions will interact with and support existing systems, processes and ways of working. It is possible to use off-the- shelf solutions – rather than develop completely new, bespoke solutions – if you ensure the enabling infrastructure is right. Similarly, solutions don’t necessarily have to be fully integrated, but they do have to be interoperable with existing systems.
To build on the considerable amount of work already undertaken across the new care models programme, the national bodies must continue to support the dissemination of good practice and other areas should feel confident to ‘steal with pride’. However, they also need to consider their local needs and context. For technology to support the fundamental shift envisioned in the Forward view teams should make use of local place-based approaches that encourage collaboration across public services and capitalise on existing strengths and resources in the community.