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We’re going to have to run, run, run……

10 September 2018

After last week’s dancing May, this week we have the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care drawing on his back catalogue of Tracy Chapman hits to highlight his love of technology. When Matt Hancock explains in his most recent speech delivered at Expo that he is ‘Talking about (sic) a revolution’, I suspect he is not referring to the same peoples uprising revolution of Ms Chapman.

You may recall when Mr Hancock took office, his priorities were – in this order – Workforce, Technology and Prevention.

What is abundantly clear to all in social care, in order for social care to be a real and practical partner in this technological revolution with health, we really are going to have to run, run, run – to catch up!

Innovations in social care

I was also in Manchester last week, hosting the Expo mainstage on Innovation, and had an opportunity to hear the presentation of Matthew Swindells, the Deputy Chief Executive talking with passion about the significant milestones planned for the next few months, which will transform the interface with health – both business to business and business to customer.

The raft of initiatives was impressive, and the overall sense that the time for debate on ‘rights and wrongs’ was well and truly passed. This needed to happen, and needed to happen at scale and pace if the UK health system was not to fall further behind and decimate our long held notion of ‘world class’ health.

So where does that leave us in social care?

Where will the pressure come to transform our varied and fragmented relationships with technology?

Those providers with a touch point with health may already be finding themselves under significant pressure to comply with Information Governance requirements in relation to the Data Security and Protection Toolkit.

Snatched conversations with colleagues at Expo suggest the push to get social care providers enrolled with NHS mail, to enable the interchange of both personal and clinical data, will be increasing significantly; colleagues in health are keen to capitalise on the benefits associated with more timely, swift and secure exchange.

This view is certainly backed up the Secretary of State who noted in his presentation at Expo ‘The social care system is not at all integrated, when it’s integration is vital’. Then of course, there are those in areas of the country where commissioners are pushing forward with changes in their vision of services, putting technology firmly at the heart of future independent living arrangements.

On top of that, we have the personal transformation in people’s experience of being supported by technology to live their everyday lives – whether it is ordering their shopping, setting their heating, communicating with loved ones and professionals or managing large aspects of their daily lives.

We do need to run, and I would suggest take that leap forward, past the debates which still wager on determining whether or not technology has a place in the delivery of care. It is not if, it is when – and we need to be clear when the revolution does come knocking on our door, we know what we want the final outcome to be.

Matt Hancock asserts his revolution is reliant on 10% technology and 90% culture – and the case studies on digital leaders within the care sector would reinforce that belief. The culture of care is based on a clear set of values and principles around how we should work, determine quality, support independence and deliver person centred care; we need to be clear how we embed the technological solutions that can and are delivering better care where they are used into the everyday delivery of care.

The Secretary of State says of the NHS “The culture of adoption has to change too for this digital age. The culture of the NHS is understandably that clinical trials take time so we should adopt new ideas only once robustly and repeatedly tested. Yet a new generation of technology has arrived that can be rapidly adopted, rapidly assessed, and rapidly iterated. Of course, all this must be based on evidence: something isn’t good simply because it’s “new”. It’s good, because it works.”

Interestingly in social care, we have not been beholden to a rigid quantitative evidence based to determine change within delivery, choosing to make changes based on more qualitative analysis that talks about the ‘why’ from the view of the citizen.

The need to listen – and the need to give feedback

We need to listen to people, to build on those many stories we all know where fragmented systems, delayed information exchange, physical barriers to independent living, long distance relations unable to connect and many more – where technology can already transform lives.

A starting point for giving feedback is the Government’s newly launched digital platfrom ‘TalkHealthandCare’. Here health and care staff can give ideas and experiences about the five ‘key chalenges’, thereby enabling the Government to gain a deeper understanding of what staff would like to change now. 

The message from Matt Hancock is this revolution cannot come soon enough. Our message to him needs to be to help us walk, and then given the right support (and he is clear he has 'our back'), we most certainly run with the revolutionary best of them. 

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