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A dozen councils get tech innovation funding

The councils will use the funding, awarded by NHS Digital and the Local Government Association, to pilot how technology can improve social care services

Twelve local councils in England have received funding from NHS Digital and the Local Government Association (LGA) to investigate the potential of tech innovations in social care.

The councils will initially be given £20,000 for a discovery phase, taking place between July and October 2018, looking at potential challenges in local social care that could benefit from technology.

After the discovery phase, the councils have to submit another application, and six of the 12 will then be given an additional £80,000 for design and implementation.

Councils receiving funding include London Borough of Havering, Cambridgeshire County Council, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council and Isle of Wight Council. 

The councils were told to focus on efficiency and “strengths-based approaches”, marketing and commission, and integrated health and social care.  

In the Wirral, the council is looking at the potential for using biometrics to assist people with learning disabilities and autism, while in Cambridgeshire; the council is creating a digital offer for medicine management support, “with health and local pharmacies and creating a tool that matches medical adherence equipment with user needs”.

The funding is part of the government’s social care digital innovation programme, which aims to help social care to use technology, and is envisioned as a way to improve information sharing and integration.

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NHS Digital’s social care programme lead, James Palmer, said the 12 projects range from assistive technologies to predictive analytics.

“This funding will give the local authorities a chance to identify and investigate a local problem before testing out a potential solution,” he said.

“They will be sharing their experiences from the pilot projects, adding to our collective knowledge of how digital can effectively be used to support the delivery of adult social care.”

Social care has often been criticised for using old and outdated IT, with big interoperability issues. 

Lack of information sharing is seen as a barrier to health and social care integration, and the government currently has a target of achieving an integrated health and social care system by 2020, which includes integrated digital care records available at the point of care.

Earlier this month, Wales launched a £100m transformation fund to join up health and social care in the country. 

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