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Integrated care needs integrated IT, say NHS Alliance experts

24 October 2008

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The needs of new integrated care organisations (ICOs), announced in July’s Darzi report, require integrated IT systems, say the authors of a new report from the NHS Alliance.

David Kwo, an IT specialist and healthcare management consultant, and Dr Minoo Irani, the NHS Alliance lead for specialists working in primary care, say that the Department of Health and individual PCTs should ensure that integrated systems are part of the selection criteria for the ICO pilots.

At the same time, Connecting for Health needs to make sure that the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) can deliver support to local ICOs.

In the report, entitled Integrated care organisations: the importance of integrated information systems, Mr Kwo and Dr Irani urge those preparing bids for the ICO pilots to include robust integrated patient record (EPR) systems in their project designs and bids.

“Integrated information systems enable clinicians to work in virtual teams to deliver patient care across different care settings”, said Mr Kwo. “They are particularly important in chronic care and in treating patients with comorbidity because they allow clinicians and managers to generate complex information to drive commissioning, outcomes measurement and research.”

Dr Irani said: “Perhaps the most important benefit is that integrated EPR systems help to make the patient experience seamless across the entire care continuum. That is almost impossible without them.

“No matter who leads ICOs, what model is adopted or what their scope, robust integrated information systems are essential to making sure care is delivered in new and better ways at the patient level.”

NHS Alliance