Integrated care systems (ICSs) and provider collaboratives are ushering in a move towards more collaborative working across organisations in health, social care and the voluntary and community sector – and digital health technologies have an important role to play. Digital technologies can help information and communication to flow across organisations, people and places, bringing benefits for both patients and staff, eg, fewer tests, improved patient safety, reduced costs and saving both patients and staff time. However, using digital health technologies to overcome silos, often referred to as interoperability, has been a longstanding challenge. The King's Fund undertook research to understand how to progress interoperability in health and care.
- Digital technologies can enable better collaboration and joined-up services between health and care partners in integrated care systems (ICSs) and provider collaboratives.
- We explored what is needed for interoperability to progress in an ICS setting using existing literature and a combination of interviews and workshops with staff in the health and care system and national bodies. Through our workshops we trialled a method for creating a shared space to build trust and relationships while tackling tricky topics.
- Interoperability has three equally important aspects that are vital for success: good co-working relationships between staff; technology that makes co-working as easy as possible; and an enabling environment (in which funding, capacity, skills, education and governance are aligned).
- Relationships need to be continually developed and strengthened across organisations and professions for interoperability to progress.
- There need to be improvements in how technology functions, in particular the use of, and adherence to, data and digital standards and addressing the fragmentation of technologies.
- Leaders need to work collectively to minimise power dynamics; staff need to be supported to lead change projects; and communications are an important tool to reinforce a collaborative working culture.
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