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Social care IT lacks interoperability, research finds

NHS Digital wants social workers to help improve IT and technology in social care as research finds challenges and concerns in the sector

NHS Digital has called on social workers to contribute their ideas and experience to help develop technologies and services fit for the future.

The centre recently finished the first phase of its research into social care IT, which found “challenges and concerns”, such as a lack of interoperability between systems used by different organisations.

The second phase of the research into social care technologies will be published in spring 2017.

NHS Digital CEO Andy Williams said the main focus is on helping frontline services improve.

“While we have many ambitions in supporting social care, it is right to start with the basics – from identifying the minimum amount of information needed to effectively discharge somebody from hospital, to developing simple ways to exchange information without adding to administration,” he said.

“But there is much more that we can and will do. To achieve this with maximum positive effect for social care professionals and users, we need local authorities and social workers to be at the heart of an ongoing conversation on how to best harness information and technology to support the sector.”

NHS Digital, previously known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre, has in the past been criticised for shying away from a focus on social care

The centre is now aiming to explore potential areas where they can support the sector, such as sharing best practice on digital technology, ensuring the software used in organisations meets the requirements of social workers, and providing guidance and information.

Chief social worker for adults, Lyn Romeo, said the research is welcome by the profession as technology affecting the day to day practice of social workers is “often overlooked”.  

“With the social care system under so much pressure, it is important that information and technology free social workers up to use their skills at the front line,” she said.

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