Digital Data and Technology- The Future of Healthcare
Whilst the NHS laid out plans to go paperless by 2020, wider services such as home care have been slower to catch up with the conversation. Whilst championing the transition to digital, a lack of clear guidance from the CQC has led to unsurety in the home care sector, with the correct use of digital records a hot topic at this years Tech for Care conference where reports CQC inspectors are still asking for paper records were discussed.
So where do home care providers stand and what is the official guidance?
At Tech for Care 2019 Katie Barton, CQC’s Senior Designer of Strategy and Intelligence clarified “[inspectors] shouldn’t be saying to you ‘I only want paper records’. Categorically they should not be saying that and they should not be insisting on paper versions of the records that you have if you are digital.”.
The NHS Vision for Digital Data and Technology in Health and Care
As part of their plans for the future, the NHS have laid out a clear vision for the NHS and wider services to provide well integrated, collaborative care of a higher standard using digital technology, with a focus on making processes simpler for staff, ensuring better access to information and improving users access to their own healthcare information.
In their statement, they said “We have the opportunity to create the most advanced health and care system in the world, and to become the global leader in health tech. By harnessing the power of technology and creating an environment to enable innovation, we can manage the growing demand for services and create the secure and sustainable future for the NHS and social care system that we all want to see.”
“We want staff who work in the health and care system to have technology that helps them to do their jobs effectively, and for NHS and social care organisations – and taxpayers – to get the best value for money.”
“Staff across the whole health and care sector also deserve high-quality digital services that remove time-consuming or inconvenient processes and reduce their workload, ultimately freeing up time for care. They should not have to waste vital time logging on to systems, or transcribing clinical data by hand or over the phone.”
Elaborating on what this will look like in practise, they stated the following points (1):
·patients, people who use care services and their carers and families should not have to repeat themselves – they should be reassured that the treatment they are given is based on their care provider having access to relevant information
·citizens who wish to personalise their use of health and care services should be able to access their care record, contribute to it and use apps that enable them to self-care, knowing that the information is secure and available to care professionals in all settings, and having a consistent and convenient user experience
·care professionals should be able to access vital information about their patients at the point at which they need it most, available across venues of care in a consistent and understandable format
·care professionals should be able to record information about the patient and trust that it will be readily available to others involved in their care
·care professionals should be able to use decision support tools to provide the best care, medicine or device for a patient based on accurate and available data
·researchers and service commissioners should be able to apply algorithms to analyse data for planning and research
·vendors with products that could support patients can, with consent, securely access and contribute information back to a patient’s care record
Electronic call monitoring software with cloud based data, apps and the likes of NFC technology have already made strides in these areas, supporting time efficiency, increased safety and overall, a better quality of care. The majority of care providers across the UK have already made the switch to either completely or predominantly paperless through the use of software such as OnePlan, yet the topic of CQC inspections is still coming up with providers wanting to ensure they score top ratings with their new digital record systems.
The Official Guidance
The CQC are pushing for the transition to digital and use of technology to improve care, stating “technology in the care sector can “Enhance care delivery, help to achieve and monitor outcomes” and “improve the independence of people receiving care services”. “Technology can: give people more control over their health, safety and wellbeing, enhance the care or treatment providers offer.”.
But what does this look like in practise?
Katie Barton clarified: “Inspectors are never going to be familiar with all the systems or experts on the system you are using, but what they should be saying to you, as providers, is ‘how does this system work?’ and ‘can you either give me the records that I am requesting, so I have the evidence that I need, or, can you show me how to use it?”.
New guidance is in the process of being developed to finally tackle the shift to digital, however in the meantime the firm position of the CQC is that they are supporting and agreeing with the ultimate NHS goal that “We will know we have achieved our goals when: a clinician or social care worker has digital tools and services that support them in doing their jobs and allow them to provide care and support for their patient with a minimum of friction and distraction”.
The CQC believes technology can improve care in the following ways(2):
give people more control over their health, safety and wellbeing
·support them to be more independent or feel less isolated
·link them to services which are important for them
·enhance the care or treatment providers offer
·help them communicate with families, professionals and staff
·help staff to prioritise and focus their attention on people who need it most
·capture and compare data, and share good practice with peers.
Ensuring any software helps to meet these basic points is a positive start for a strong rating.
They have also helpfully discussed in brief how technology can help them to meet their 5 key lines of enquiry(3).
·Safe “Helping ensure key information is accurate and easy to share with caring professionals in real time.”
·Effective “Supporting effective communication and more efficient use of resources, including finances”
·Caring “Supporting person-centred care and helping staff to spend more time on the things that really matter”
·Responsive to people's needs “Supporting providers to be more proactive and responsive to changing needs by helping to identify developing risks or needs more quickly”
·Well-led “Supporting more effective quality assurance through more effective communication, information sharing and improved data analysis”
Don’t be afraid to make the switch. Both the NHS and CQC have made it clear that utilising digital records and technology in care to meet their specific objectives are the future, and even current, gold standard. Home care providers need to utilise electronic call monitoring software that includes eMar, care plans and family access to improve communication, client safety and care quality, and to automate or improve the efficiency of tasks so that care staff can focus on person centred care instead of time consuming processes. Information needs to be cloud based and accessible anywhere any time to improve the quality of care within and between services. For more information on meeting the CQC’s 5KLE with digital records you can visit: