Information-sharing and digital care records for integrated care

What is it and how does it work?

Meeting individuals’ care needs with safe, timely and personalised responses is reliant on good communication and data sharing within and across settings. Digital health and care records provide the means to coordinate care better and manage care proactively because they are:

  • accessible to all care teams involved in a person’s care, whenever they are needed
  • available to, and travel with, each individual wherever they receive care.

The ability of IT systems to communicate – sometimes called digital interoperability – is a critical enabler of information flow, ensuring services and teams are able to exchange essential data in a timely and safe fashion and virtually operate as a whole, integrated (information) system.

  • Video transcript Open

    Digital health and care records provide the means for better care coordination and proactive approaches to care management.

    This is because they are accessible to all care teams involved in a person’s care, and because they’re available to, and travel with, each individual wherever they receive care.

    Digital care records support:

    • the identification and targeting of people who benefit most from integration
    • care planning tailored around the needs, strengths and goals specific to each individual
    • continuity of care for people moving through the health and care system,
    • and care coordination by multidisciplinary teams and professionals across care settings.

    In addition, joined-up working between health and social care services through data sharing eliminates duplication, including multiple assessments, resulting in a better care experience for service users.

    Digital innovation can bring significant benefits and support the integration of services.

    But it requires more than just replacing paper based processes with digital ones. It involves using technology to reimagine work processes, professional interactions and the engagement of service users.

    Better information exchange and greater digital access to shared health and care records can be expected to improve people’s experience of care as they move seamlessly through the system – only needing to tell their story once and with information safely flowing with them.

Explore information-sharing and digital care records

How does this support integrated care?

Information flow and data sharing are essential building blocks of successful integrated care models. Digital care records play a role at every step in the delivery of person-centred coordinated care, supporting:

  • the identification and targeting of people who benefit most from integration, through risk stratification and case finding
  • care planning tailored around the needs, strengths and goals specific to each individual, including the co-production of care plans with individuals
  • care coordination by multidisciplinary teams and professionals across care settings, ensuring all decisions about an individual’s treatment and care pathway are based on shared and up-to-date health and care information
  • continuity of care for people moving through the health and care system, by making relevant information accessible to all professionals and services involved.

In addition, joined-up working between health and social care services through data sharing eliminates duplication, including multiple assessments, resulting in a better care experience for service users.

What are the enablers of effective information sharing?

Digital innovation can bring significant benefits and support the integration of services. But it requires more than just replacing paper-based processes with digital ones. It involves using technology to reimagine work processes, professional interactions and the engagement of service users. Critical steps to achieving this include:

  • committed leadership, supporting culture change, openness and collaboration – beyond the mere introduction of new technologies
  • strong information governance, including through formal information-sharing agreements and partnerships
  • user-centred design and skills development
  • interoperability and standardisation, ensuring IT systems are able to communicate.

What is the evidence for outcomes and impact?

Better information exchange and greater digital access to shared health and care records, including care plans, can be expected to produce the following outcomes:

  • greater service user engagement, as more people are able to take an active role in their care – having easy access to essential data about their conditions and the care and support plan they have agreed with their care teams
  • improved care coordination by ensuring all professionals involved, and irrespective of their specialism or the setting in which they operate, have timely access to cross-disciplinary information – including what to do in a crisis and during transition 
  • delivery of a  broader mix of services that focus on keeping people well and receiving care closer to home
  • improved safety and error avoidance – by ensuring all professionals have quick access to vital information wherever and whenever it is needed
  • improved people’s experience of care as they move seamlessly through the system – only needing to tell their story once and with information safely flowing with them.