The government has set a target for at least 80% of CQC registered providers to have digital social care records by March 2024, which is now less than a year away. We know that digital records won’t be the end point but a marker of progress and the first step towards transforming the entire sector and allowing frontline care staff to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with the person being supported.
In this week’s blog, I look at the reasons why you should look to move to a digital model and how you can make sure your service is ready.
We know that our regulator, the Care Quality Commissioner, is a huge advocate of digital records. I recently listened to Anthony Snape, the CQC head of data, at UK Care Week who stated that under the new single assessment framework digital social care records are being pitched as ‘Good’. It will become increasingly challenging to achieve a ‘Good’ rating without strong effective patient management records and digital social care records are a real enabler of this. We have seen with the Provider Information Return (PIR) that the amount of information needed is easier to collate for providers that are digital and can run reports and extract stats at the click of a button.
I know there will be small providers who feel that paper is working for them but now must deal with the government and the regulator imposing deadlines and the threat of not being deemed a ‘Good’ service unless they go digital. However, there are benefits to all providers for going digital, these include:
- Data can be easily shared; this enhances person-centred care which is the vision that most of us in the sector wants. People often say to us that they wish they only had to tell their story once and we often wish that we knew what happened when the people we support are transferred to hospital. Joined up systems will allow that, but we need to embrace digitalisation to enable this to happen.
- Data can be accessed from different locations which allows managers, directors and CEOs to make data-driven decisions, no matter where they are.
- Providers can operate more efficiently and effectively by automating administrative tasks such as appointments, tracking medications and documenting care plans as well as ensuring compliance through audits and meeting regulatory demands.
- It’s quicker to record digitally than on paper which allows more time to be spent with the people we support.
- It makes it easy to analyse and utilise data to drive change and direction.
- It keeps all your data in one place and increases the security of people's records.
- It’s been proven to improve the accuracy and completeness of records and reduce the risk of errors being made.
How can you make sure your service is ready?
I recently wrote about what you need to consider if you're thinking of going digital. Let’s explore some of the digital checks you need to make as part of that journey.
Do you have the necessary hardware, software and internet connectivity to support digital tools and services? This includes computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices that can access the internet and run software applications.
Have you implemented appropriate security measures to protect sensitive data, such as documents, records and personal information from unauthorised access or theft? This includes encryption, firewalls and data backup.
Training and support
Have you provided your staff with the training and tools they need to use digital systems effectively? This includes training on specific software as well as providing ongoing support to troubleshoot technical issues and answer questions.
Have you developed digital tools that enable people to engage with your organisation such as secure messaging or family portals?
Have you implemented standards and protocols that enable your digital systems to communicate and share data with other healthcare providers and organisations such as GPs, hospitals and pharmacies?
Have you ensured your digital systems and services comply with relevant regulatory requirements such as GDPR?
Have you taken steps to ensure that your digital services are accessible to all users? This includes formats such as audio and large print.
Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT)
The toolkit is an online self-assessment tool that allows organisations to measure their performance against the National Data Guardians 10 data security standards.
All organisations that have access to NHS patient data and systems must use this toolkit to provide assurance that they're practising good data security and that personal information is handled correctly. You can find out more here.