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Technology ‘major barrier’ to integration

Technology ‘major barrier’ to integration

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Data and IT systems are the biggest barrier to integration, according to an opinion poll released today. 

Clinical commissioners and adult social care directors believe that IT problems are holding up integration efforts (64%), with overly complex organisations (57%), payment mechanisms (51%) and changing leadership (51%) also cited. 

However, the poll also revealed “widespread optimism” around the future of service integration. 

Produced by the NHS Confederation and the Association of Directions of Adult Services (ADASS), the poll showed there has already been progress in joint working between local authorities and CCGs. 

The poll indicates that the main driver for integration continues to be patient and service user benefit. 

‘Resilience’ 

NHS Confederation director of policy Dr Johnny Marshall said: “What snapshot surveys like this demonstrate is the resilience which clinicians, practitioners and managers possess in order to continue to focus on patients and service users. 

“The drive to develop integrated services around users transcends organisational upheaval and the day-to-day difficulties of mismatched inherited computer systems.” 

ADASS president Sandie Keene said: “We should be mindful of the need to overcome the obstacles in the way, such as the lack of IT coherence between different agencies. 

"We must also be aware of the important role strong local leadership can play in overcoming the challenges that integration poses.”

Respondents reported they believe service integration can have “significant advantages” for patients and service users, providing better co-ordinated care while saving money. 

More than half of the respondents to the survey, carried out between April-May 2013, reported that where integrated services were in place they had seen a reduction in delayed discharges. 

Two out of five said they had seen a positive impact in unplanned emergency hospital admissions as a consequence of integration, and the same proportion reported more service users were still at home three months after being discharged from hospital into rehabilitation. 

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