Technology can be a useful tool for social care providers. Different types of software are now being used for care planning, rostering, payroll, medication management and a host of other reasons and care providers are often enthusiastic about the incredible benefits they are seeing. From efficiency savings, better care outcomes and better auditing capabilities technology can be a real boon for any organisation.
However, one issue which is often brought up is the difficulties caused when software systems can’t talk to one another and share information. This means that staff have to struggle to remember multiple log ins or that they have to take time to enter the same information twice (or more times!). When different health and care services use different systems, this can also lead to people having to repeat the same information multiple times to different health and care professionals. This can be frustrating for people using care services and it can also make life more difficult for care staff who can’t easily share information electronically with their colleagues.
This is the reason why interoperability is seen as the future of health and social care technology. Interoperability, in its simplest definition, is the ability for computer systems or software to share and make use of the same information. In November 2021, Ipsos Mori published their report Adult Social Care Technology and Digital Skills Review. In it they state,
“Limitations around interoperability and inconsistent standards (including on data sharing) were a barrier to care providers and local authorities in purchasing digital technology, and to digital technology suppliers operating in the market. This was reported to present challenges in choosing digital technology, led to inconsistency in customer requirements (and requests for more expensive bespoke systems), increased the chance of digital technology becoming obsolete, and hindered the sector in maximising the full potential of digital technology and integrating information between systems.”
This finding is often echoed by technology systems providers in the sector and, for many, is a major focus in their development roadmaps.
Different technology providers are now taking steps to put interoperability at the heart of what they do. MED e-care, an eMAR and care planning software, partner with many other organisations so that information can be shared easily with their technology partners. In their own words, “Interoperability in care technology is imperative for the evolution of outstanding care”. MED e-care’s pharmacy integration stops the need for double entry in a care homes system so that ordering and managing medication is now a more seamless process. They also integrate with many other care planning software systems which means that care providers have more choice in the range of technology they can use.
Other companies are following the same lead, for example CareVision, a cloud based care management software solution. CareVision are one of 8 digital care record suppliers which sit on the assured supplier list. These are companies which have been accredited by the NHS as meeting the core requirements a care service needs from the technology they use. Assured suppliers have also committed to meeting standards and integrating with NHS systems as this functionality is developed.
Interoperability is not limited to care recording and medication management. There are also uses for it when it comes to scheduling and rostering. NDGAI have developed an artificial intelligence scheduling tool called OptifAI. They offer different integration solutions to partners based on their needs so that the end user has the best experience possible.
Interoperability is the future of technology in care – it offers more choice and better user experiences for everyone involved. Driven by Health with Care are sponsoring a panel ‘Interoperability in Care Tech. What does it ultimately mean? CHOICE’ at the Care Show on 13th October where their panel of experts will explore and explain the benefits of interoperable systems in more detail.