Why we need to join the dots in the healthcare system

It happens all the time, people with a friend or relative in care complain that the dots aren’t joined up. A person in the system, let’s call him Frank, comes out of hospital and is visited by a district nurse and an occupational therapist, but they don’t communicate and things that he really needs to happen, don’t.

Perhaps a set of notes got mislaid, or the district nurse didn’t speak to the occupational therapist. Every time Frank’s family speak to someone, be it at the hospital or to his GP, they have no record of all the other conversations he’s had with other professionals. This is the sort of thing that Nourish is trying to improve.

The adult care sector is vast and what I see is a picture of a tree with roots going into the ground and connecting everything up. If all health care providers were plugged into each other, then everything would make sense and the patient wouldn’t have to keep explaining themselves and asking for the same things again and again.

You’d be able to look at a person’s GP records and see whether they went to hospital, had an operation, a visit from a district nurse or an occupational therapist. There is no grey area or a note you haven’t seen. It’s a real overview of what is happening to a person in the entire health sector and that is how it should be.

One of the ways we’re trying to join these dots is with our partnership programme. It is a way of making sure the entire system works together seamlessly. Many digital suppliers talk about integrations and widgets, but at Nourish, we’re trying to do away with all of that. We want providers to forget about plugins and strip it right back. We ask them to talk to us about their processes.

Take Frank. What happens when the district nurse visits him? What information comes back and who is it passed to? At Nourish, we already have GP connect and key things like that but what we do is talk to our partners and ask them what is missing, and then we work out ways to plug them in around the partnership programme. It can’t be about suppliers working separately to eat their slice of the pie, it’s about joining up the whole process. However, as visionary as we are at Nourish, the NHS and local authorities are not quite there yet.

You’ve got the local authority who say ‘we’ve got a case management system, we don’t need to know about anything else.’ and then the NHS are over there with their clinical systems and we’ve got to make friends with all of them. The data flow isn’t seamless at the moment, but it’s getting there.

Social care is going through a rapid change at the moment. England is currently about 50% digital and I think we’ll get to about 80% in the next year. But how is all this going to benefit Frank?

Let’s say that his wife needs a break and they both agree he needs some respite care. How are they going to find it? We’ve partnered with Ottum. They have 12,000 members that are care providers. Their members say that 30% of their leads come through Ottum. Many of them are paper based providers and can’t keep track of the leads that come in.  That means the Franks of this world struggle to get a care home place because nobody is answering them.

We’ve also partnered with a system called Found, so that when anybody contacts the care home, it goes into Found and they can keep track of all their leads. At a point where Frank needs to be assessed for care and admitted, all the details get seamlessly transported into Nourish where the care plan can be created and he can be supported. That’s going to be massive for Frank who has waited for three months to get the right type of care because she couldn’t get hold of the care home he wanted.

Little things like that will really support and change the adult care system in this country. A carer will have Frank’s care plan in her pocket, they’ll be able to see notes about his medical history, a recent hospital stay, and any medications, etc. All the information that keeps getting missed will be there in one place.

There are a lot of people trying to do good things in the adult care sector and the lack of cohesion affects everybody adversely, carers and those they look after. We’re not just looking at replacing paper processes, it’s about transforming the system so that it works better. 

By Denise Tack, director of partner and engagement at Nourish Care


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