The last couple of weeks have been exceptionally busy for the information sharing team, as the pace of progress accelerates after the summer break. The activities of the last fortnight have exemplified the kinds of work that the centre of excellence in information sharing is likely to participate in, and the enthusiasm for input around the cultural and organisational issues in information sharing demonstrates what an appetite there is for a resource like the centre of excellence. Here are a few quick highlights:
Understanding the issues
One of the great benefits of the IISaM project over the last couple of years has been a strong grounding in local delivery; although IISaM worked in a limited number of areas, on just a couple of policy areas, we were able to get a sense of the issues and solutions developing on the ground. So in the last couple of weeks, we have been continuing to expand our range of contacts, meeting with the NHS Information Governance group in Greater Manchester, speaking at the practice exchange event for integrated health and social care in Greater Manchester, and meeting up with colleagues who are supporting health reforms in that part of the world. We’ve learnt rapidly about the framework within which they operate, giving us a working knowledge of section 251 exemptions and a new set of acronyms to grapple with.
Supporting public service transformation
The Public Service Transformation Network held its first event for local areas working with the Network, and information sharing was there at the beginning, providing a sense of the importance of information and its ability to inform and support service redesign. We’ve also continued to build our relationship with the ICO, filling them in on the plans for the centre of excellence, and exploring how our work on the cultural influences on information sharing complements their work as regulator, educator and adviser.
Research and analysis
For a while now, we have been telling people that information doesn’t just need to be shared to deliver services (at case level); information sharing is also vital to inform service planning (activities such as demand forecasting, demography and risk stratification) and evaluation. This was borne out in conversations with agencies such as NHSIQ (who will support the new health and social care integration pioneer areas), and with colleagues at local level, including Manchester City Council and Swindon Borough Council. We’ve also been able to establish contact with the ICO-funded UK Anonymisation Network, to see what experiences they have captured in their case studies to date, and to explore whether they might be able to provide expert advice to local areas which are developing ways to anonymise or pseudonymise data for analytical purposes, using safe haven procedures. That collaboration is looking really positive, and as it is such a live issue, we will be sharing good practice as rapidly as we can. Which brings me on nicely to…
Local experiences are at the heart of what IISaM offered, and will form a cornerstone of the centre of excellence’s work. There are new case studies in the pipeline (health and social care cropping up again as a key area of interest, for example the Hampshire Health Record) but we are always keen to hear from areas who are finding new solutions to information sharing issues. And one place that we are working with currently is Swindon – for more, read on!
Intensive information sharing support
Swindon was successful in its application to become one of the 9 areas that the Public Service Transformation Network is working with, and they rapidly identified the need to progress information sharing in order to support the ambitious broader programme of service transformation that they have embarked on. Last week ended with the team spending a day facilitating a workshop on behalf of Swindon Borough Council and its partners, using a scenario-led approach to help participants explore the information needs and barriers working locally. The workshop was really positive and we will continue to work with Swindon as they shape their next steps. James Griffin, Head of Strategy and Research at Swindon Borough Council said:
“It was very well constructed and managed and really helped to get the relevant people working together as a team to move this agenda forward. You struck a lovely balance between technical expertise and facilitation and I thought the use of scenarios was particularly helpful in showing us the benefits of a fuller picture.”
We will be looking in more detail at the work happening in Swindon in a later blogpost.