With the entire Health and Social Care sector reeling from an incredibly tough 12 months, the Department of Health’s latest White Paper outlines some of the most fundamental changes that the NHS has seen since the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. These include establishing more Integrated Care Systems (ICS) with powers to employ staff and hold budgets and creating a ‘duty to collaborate’ for NHS organisations and local authorities across the healthcare, public health and social care system.
Integration and innovation are the two key pillars of the reform plans, and those same twin goals have long underpinned everything we do here at Cinapsis. Below, we’ll explain what our experiences at the forefront of NHS integration and innovation have taught us about their positive impact on patient care delivery, clinical time saving and all-round efficiency.
2020 has been a catalyst for adopting new ways of working, reducing bureaucracy and integrating the NHS better. By opening the door to new partnerships with ambitious startups and cutting back the red tape, the NHS has rolled out more sophisticated technologies that enable remote patient care for reducing surgery and hospital attendances.
Leaders of the pack include One Gloucestershire ICS, who since the first wave of COVID, have successfully integrated 22 new pathways on Cinapsis SmartReferrals. These pathways facilitated triage in the face of rapidly changing guidelines: a ‘COVID hotline’ for SWAST paramedics as an integrated feature to their usual triage technology has given access to respiratory and urgent care specialists and the ability to obtain advice when needed to over 500 paramedics, and this resulted in 40% of patients avoiding hospital admission. Access to the new pathways has since been extended to Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS FT (the mental health trust), GPs working Out of Hours and the Ministry of Defence.
2020 was a year of innovation at Cinapsis too, as we responded to the urgent challenges of COVID by developing Cinapsis VirtualConsult (for doctors to securely consult patients via voice or video calls) and Cinapsis PhotoConsult (a solution enabling GPs to invite patients to send clinical photos directly from within EMIS Web or SystmOne).
However, in the midst of rapid innovation, it’s essential that data security and safety measures are also evolved at pace. We’ve achieved this at Cinapsis by exceeding all the mandatory requirements of the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit and securing cyber essentials plus certification.
Those with first-hand experience working within the NHS have long called for greater integration between the multiple bodies involved in the delivery of health and social care. The proposed plans to roll out more Integrated Care Systems to support collaborative working will be a real step forward in delivering efficient, impactful, joined-up care.
In addition, joining up care provision will help to get rid of some of the barriers to care planning and delivery that frustrates and wastes the precious time of health and social care staff. Specifically, by connecting Primary Care and Secondary care teams, specialists can share knowledge, which is leveraged to help to keep patients out of hospital and relieve the pressure on Emergency Departments. Our mission at Cinapsis is to connect care and enable patients with complex health and social care needs to receive the right support from the most appropriate place.
Digital integration is just as important as the integration of service delivery. Indeed, everyone who works in the NHS and in community care understands how frustrating it is when computer systems don’t sync or ‘talk to each other’ - it wastes clinical time, frustrates patients and allows important information to slip through cracks. According to the white paper, the upcoming integration project is set to make major inroads into the ‘joining up’ of data systems across Health and Social Care.
At Cinapsis, we take digital integration as seriously as we take our mission to integrate patient care delivery. We’re proud to say that our Cinapsis SmartReferrals platform is fully integrated with both EMISWeb and SystmOne, enabling GPs to request advice and guidance directly from the electronic patient record, and facilitating the automatic updating of the same patient record with case outcomes are treatment plans.
In addition, all of our solutions (including Cinapsis PhotoConsult and VirtualConsult) can be seamlessly integrated into existing systems so that users’ workflow is not disturbed. This helps with the rapid uptake of our technology across large teams even during busy or high-stress periods.
Looking to the future
The White Paper is a sign that the government is listening and responding to the needs of NHS staff and patients, and that they are truly committed to delivering meaningful reform in the wake of the pandemic.
These reforms are essential to protect the entire network and strengthen it to meet the challenges which lie ahead; at Cinapsis we wholly believe that the best starting point for this is to fix our sights on achieving system-wide integration powered by world-leading innovation.