High-quality data has been integral in tackling COVID-19 and delivering digitally driven, citizen-centred integrated care. At the beginning of the year, NHSX developed a national imaging database to identify patterns and variations of COVID-19 in UK patients. In Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had secured a deal with Pfizer which enabled all citizens of Israel to receive a vaccination, in exchange for anonymised statistical data and details about efficacy of inocuations. Experts discussed the potential of data to transform health services, and the challenges to overcome, during the ‘Data as the Lifeblood of Stronger, Digitally-Connected Integrated Care Systems’ session today (8 June).
The speakers were: Dr Carlos Ferrando, University of Barcelona, chief editor of the Spanish Journal of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, associate professor, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Spain; Ming Tang, national director of data and analytics, NHS England and Improvement, UK; Manuel Bosch Arcos, CIO, Centene Europe, Spain; and Claus Pedersen, director of Sentinel Unit, sundhed.dk, Denmark.
Harnessing population health data
“We’re about to embark on another [reorganisation] with the health bill that’s due to pass through parliament in the coming months,” said NHS England’s Tang. “That bill really will set out the integrated care system by which the NHS will work”.
Through this reorganisation, there will be 42 integrated care systems in England, which will work together with adult social care and Public Health, aiming to improve the health of the population that they serve. This will ensure that it has both the right configuration for national and local services, as well as meet the population needs.
“This is our attempt to move away from commissioning services and really try to combine those services to make a difference in outcome for population health,” explained Tang.
“This is requiring a big change in the way that we use data, the way that we have to share data and the infrastructure that we will need to put in place, both from a policy standpoint, infrastructure standpoint, and also processes.
“It’s really important that as we work through some of these changes. We are really using data as a lifeblood to try and triangulate information and actually improve services,” admitted Tang.
Engaging citizens with integrated care
Meanwhile, in Spain, government healthcare provider, Centene Europe has a unique management system that combines primary care, mental health, and acute and hospital care. This has allowed the company to create a centralised way of managing data and IT in one network.
Arcos explained: “For that, we need data, we need full electronic tracking and full engagement of the citizens and of the patients. None of that can be done without using data in a predictive way. Not only reporting data, but it is also how we use that data to predict what is going to happen in the future.
“We consider three main things as a key enabler of integrated care. One is a clinical team with a strong clinical approach, always putting the patient or citizen first. The second is human resources. We need to make sure that we have the best talent in the company. Last but not least, is digital and data.
“So if we can manage and merge clinical view, talent and IT, we are going in a better position to provide better health care to our citizens,” Arcos outlined.
ICU without walls
The panel also discussed why clinicians are increasingly realising that critical illness and the ICU should be seen as one part of this patients disease trajectory. Dr Ferrando explained: “We are recognising that how the patients are managed before and after an ICU admission has an important role to play in improving patient outcomes. However, identifying critical illness earlier is a challenge that requires some steps first to recognise at-risk patients. For these we need data. Secondly, we need to improve monitoring of this population outside the ICU.”
Pedersen concluded the panel discussion: “Some of the learning points from this is that even though the technology is moving fast, and we can see great potential in the future use of algorithms and more integrated systems, there is also still a lot of hard work to be done in many places.
“We still need to spend time effort in adjusting the clinical understanding of consensus around what we are actually dealing with. We need to spend time on integration, standards and the infrastructure of our systems.”
Access the ‘Data as the Lifeblood of Stronger, Digitally-Connected Integrated Care Systems’ session from the HIMSS European Digital Conference 2021 ‘On Demand’ here.
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