• 21May

    DH Information Strategy says “Information is an essential service in its own right”

    This week saw the launch of the Department of Health’s long awaited Information Strategy; The power of information: putting all of us in control of the health and care information we need.

    This strategy sets a ten-year framework for transforming information for health and care. It aims to harness information and new technologies to achieve higher quality care and improve outcomes for patients and service users. Underpinned by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, it covers public health, healthcare and social care in adult and children’s services in England.

    As citizens, patients and users of care services, this strategy sets out how a new approach to information and IT across health and care can lead to more joined up, safer, better care. The strategy spans information for patients, service users, carers, clinicians and other care professionals, managers, commissioners, councillors, researchers, and many others.

    The strategy focuses on information in its broadest sense, including the support people need to navigate and understand the information available. This is about ensuring that information reduces, not increases, inequalities and benefits all.

    The strategy’s main ambitions include:

    • Information used to drive integrated care across the entire health and social care sector, both within and between organisations;
    • Information regarded as a health and care service in its own right for us all – with appropriate support in using information available for those who need it, so that information benefits everyone and helps reduce inequalities;
    • A change in culture and mindset, in which our health and care professionals, organisations and systems recognise that information in our own care records is fundamentally about us – so that it becomes normal for us to access our own records easily;
    • Information recorded once, at our first contact with professional staff, and shared securely between those providing our care – supported by consistent use of information standards that enable data to flow (interoperability) between systems whilst keeping our confidential information safe and secure;
    • Our electronic care records progressively become the source for core information used to improve our care, improve services and to inform research, etc. – reducing bureaucratic data collections and enabling us to measure quality;

    Commenting on the Strategy, Mark Duman, chair, Patient Information Forum said:

    We very much welcome this Information Strategy. Rather than being purely about informatics, it recognises that its ambition is underpinned by culture change.  We applaud the recognition that choice is broader than merely choice of provider and includes making health and wellbeing decisions, as well as choosing appropriate treatments when necessary.  However, we would like to see more emphasis on training and education of health and professionals to fully support patients and the public in shared decision making.

    We need further clarity on what is meant by ‘supporting’ patients to make decisions so that we do not simply publish more data and increase confusion. We welcome the acknowledgment that commissioners need to ‘recognise the benefits of appropriate information and communication support’ and hope this translates into dedicated funding for the range of information products and services exemplified throughout the strategy. Without such recognition and funding from commissioners we will continue to have patchy and inequitable provision of this ‘essential service’.

    More information about the Strategy and what it means ofr information producers and providers wikll be in the newlstter on Friday. Events are also planned for over the coming months to help you make sense of what it means for your organisation.

    To read the strategy: http://informationstrategy.dh.gov.uk/about/the-strategy/

    For an article in the Health Service Journal:  www.hsj.co.uk/story.aspx?storyCode=5045062