Interoperability failure costs lives

Interoperability is today’s must-do fashion.

I will leave to others the tales of wrong treatment given to patients because their GP records could not be read in A&E.  Occasionally serious, they are rare and we don’t want major policy initiatives on the basis of isolated cases and anecdotes.  (OK, I could never make it as a politician).

No, I want us to think about the grinding, everyday, collosal waste in our cash-strapped NHS, because systems which could communicate with each other, don’t.  The lives this costs are unseen and unknown.  Resources which could be spent on quality care are thrown away on manual rework, or data is lost.

In primary care, the prinicipal system suppliers can’t reproduce every potential service innovation, and in any case 78% of CCGs have a mixture of suppliers.  GPSoC is designed to overcome the barriers, allowing interoperability and a more open market.  It’s over a year late, and that is a huge loss of potential improvement.

I asked Jon Witte, MD of Wiggly-Amps (our partners in online access with askmyGP) for his views, as he’s been involved for three years:

“It hasn’t (yet) lived up to expectations.  For the first time it was attempting to bring subsidiary suppliers onto the framework, needing new interfaces and assurance processes. Yes, mistakes have been made; but lessons have been learnt and, for that reason if no other, I’d say that GPSoC has been worthwhile.

Although it’s taken a lot more effort and time to get to this point than anyone expected, we will soon be in a position to offer richer products that interface with more clinical systems. And the better our products are, the safer and more efficient for our customers.

Integration is a powerful enabler for new ways of working and there’s lots of exciting developments in this arena. But the NHS needs systems now. Let’s finish what we’ve started; better to deliver 80% capability today than 95% a further 3 years down the line.”

It’s time we saw action from HSCIC.  As Don Berwick says, “Efficiency is a moral imperative.”

Dr Sara Cowell

Founder, Chief Executive
Dot Community Health Ltd

PS Look at what David Stables is doing with Endeavour Health to promote data exchange, free and open source.  Impressive.

PPS see you at the RCGP conference in Glasgow on Friday, stand 65 and with new case studies.

3 responses to “Interoperability failure costs lives”

  1. Dr Ethie Kong says:

    Totally agree with everything said.
    Make it happen soon please - all your IT suppliers / providers.
    Otherwise “interoperability” is getting to be a tiresome word! Another word not to be believed….

  2. Mike Walton says:

    I’m hoping we are at a tipping point of interoperability. But the technology is only part of it. Arguably a more challenging construct is the need for clear, safe and ethical data sharing agreements. These must concord with DPA and ICO rules. Around the country, I am sure there are dozens of organisations beavering away to develop their own data sharing templates. GP Federations, MIG environments, pilots of RERS-TPP interoperability project, local Care Record initiatives (such as Leeds, Merseyside, Oxfordshire, Hampshire). Also record sharing between Primary Care and Secondary Care, Community Trusts, Mental Health, Ambulance, Social Care and Palliative Care.

    Is anyone aware of a ‘repository’ or library of such data sharing agreements? Rather than everyone inventing the same wheel which is the same shape and does the same job - it would be useful to have a common library of data sharing templates.

    Thoughts. Who would be best placed to facilitate this?

  3. We have been working across the South West Devon area, with all our stakeholders, including VirginCare, SWAST, Devon Doctors etc to develop a common data sharing toolkit which includes, fair processing notices, Privacy impact assessments etc. The mist recent news from the Information Governance alliance, released last week, also points organisations in this direction and enforces the requirement to comply with the 7th Caldicott principle regarding sharing. We have tried the MIG and across 4 different suppliers it just didnt give us the info we most needed in a format that was useful. We have a lot of Microtest sites, who are still not SCR compliant, which is holding us up. We are, as a CCG, both a pioneer and a Vanguard site for Urgent care, so will be reliant on interoperability to get these pilots to a viable model of care. Wish us luck!

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