NHS Digital has announced new funding to facilitate digitising the flow of information between adult social care and health services.

Local authorities, residential and domiciliary adult social care providers, researchers, and academic groups working in partnership with health organisations can now apply for a share of the new funds, in the hope of improving the sharing of crucial data between the two factions.

“Timely access to accurate information is essential to supporting the efficient co-ordination of person-centred care. This includes for example what medication people are taking, what allergies people might suffer from and any personal preferences people have in how they are looked after,” Lyn Romeo, chief social worker for adults at the Department for Health and Social Care.

“This can all be delivered so much more quickly and accurately by the digital transfer of records through secure channels, or by more intelligent use of data, whilst maintaining privacy, respecting confidentiality and upholding people’s rights.”

The first funding stream of £1.1 million is available for ‘demonstrator areas’ to take up or develop digital products and services able to transfer information from clinical into adult social care settings, “with the aim of increasing the quality and efficiency of care,” NHS Digital said.

The second of £233,000 is being made available for projects investigating what information is currently flowing from adult social care into health systems and what more might be needed to improve joined up care.

“These demonstrators will be chosen on the basis that their work could be replicated easily to deliver benefits quickly for the system and pave the way for a truly integrated future,” commented James Palmer, programme lead for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital.

The final funding stream of £250,000 is for local authorities and research organisations to explore the use of predictive analytics to prevent or predict long-term social care need, as well as assess the ethical implications of such practice.

“We know that this is an area fraught with ethical considerations that have not yet been clearly defined or agreed,” said Palmer. “Through the provision of this funding, we want to begin to understand both how predictive analytics could and should be used in the provision of social care.”