Within South Devon and Torbay there has been an ambition to create a culture where people want to share information for a number of years.
With an overarching Information Sharing Agreement already in place for a number of years, signed up to by health and social care organisations including local authorities, it demonstrated the organisational intent with regards to the sharing of information, as well as the expectations in terms of security and management.
More recently this has been further supplemented to provide a robust approach and the practical tools needed for effective sharing. To do this, the team initially held an Information Sharing Seminar in involving staff from the partner organisations in November 2014. They used feedback from the seminar along with best practice guidelines from a number of organisations including the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing, Information Governance Alliance, NHS England, HSCIS, and the Information Commissioners Officer, to produce a set of documents which are easy to use, consistent but comprehensive enough to provide real assurance and something that would benefit the local healthcare economy and the local people of South Devon and Torbay.
The need for a framework has been highlighted by a number of local initiatives that are currently in development, which aim to improve the health and wellbeing of patients. Technology is being used to facilitate information sharing; however it is also recognised that without robust information sharing principles, the desired outcomes will not be achieved. In the implementation of these initiatives, the toolkit is currently being trialled to assess its effectiveness, and feedback is being gathered and reflected in the revised versions.
It is hoped that by having this in place, South Devon and Torbay will create a:
- Robust and clear process to enable organisations to share information across boundaries and care settings;
- Culture of collaboration and trust in relation to information sharing;
- Platform to learn from existing information sharing processes;
- Reduction in duplication of information shared;
- Assurance that information is only being used for a specific purpose;
- ‘Data map’ which will illustrate the flows of information across organisations; and
- Evidence of compliance with the relevant statutory requirements.
The Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing began initial conversations with South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in October 2014. These discussions aimed to support South Devon and Torbay’s existing transformation programme – Joined Up – a big idea for bringing about lasting change in the health and well-being of all people who live in South Devon and Torbay. An important element of the Joined Up programme was the need to establish robust information sharing arrangements to support the integration of health and social care services.
Following the seminar, South Devon and Torbay developed supporting documentation to support information sharing. They have been applying and testing out this work on their frailty service and initial findings on the impact will be available soon. Partners trialling the approach include GPs, practice managers, the out of hours service and voluntary sector providers. All partners have recognised that the documentation is useful but, to ensure consistent delivery and improvements, teams will need regular support and guidance on implementing and delivering the approach.
The Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing will also be providing recommendations for a consistent approach to communications and engagement to support implementation of the programme. In addition, to support concerns of staff working on the ground a training module is being developed to discuss issues of information sharing and will include mandatory learning on information governance.