Breaking Barriers: Building a Sustainable Future for Health and Social Care

 In recent years successive Governments have struggled with the increasing problem of how to pay for crucial Health and Social Care services. Lord Patel of Bradford in his ‘Breaking Barriers’ report seeks to explore new ways of delivering a long term future for health and care services.

As business transformation partner for the report, Sopra Steria has provided insight into how technology can best support his vision.

Changing demographics and a trend towards more sedentary lifestyles have resulted in a growing elderly population and the growth of health problems such as obesity and diabetes. These factors alone have seen the demands for healthcare grow to such critical levels that basic systemic changes are needed if both health and care services are to continue to support all citizens at particularly vulnerable periods in their lives.

The recent Carter report delivers an opportunity to remove significant inefficiencies from the existing health infrastructure by reducing duplication, sharing best practices and benchmarking costs and delivery methods. Lord Patel of Bradford seeks to extend these efficiencies further by encouraging greater integration of existing services and greater innovation in the way that they are delivered.

Sopra Steria has supported Lord Patel of Bradford by considering how technology can best support his vision and new ways of working. Our shared vision seeks to prevent ill health, manage demand and reduce the cost of delivery through integrated services supported by digital solutions. Key to achieving this aim is to consider how current and future demand can be reduced, diverted or managed. 

Importantly we recognise that achieving sustainable change requires a long term programme of change which will only succeed if sufficient capacity is created to ensure that health and care service delivery throughout the development period remains unaffected. 

Collaboration is key to releasing additional capacity to support change, for example through initiatives such as:

  • Property and asset rationalisation across current and future health and care partners to make more efficient use of their existing buildings and assets. This would encourage an approach to delivery that not only gives immediate efficiencies but could also generate an income to fund additional capacity
  • Development of community partnerships to provide assets, services, skills and funding
  • Early partnership with the private sector to provide additional skills and capacity to support the change process.

Lord Patel’s solution is to develop an integrated Health and Care  campus which will provide:

A Physical environment to promote collaboration between the health and care sectors, community groups and commercial partners and to  provide aseamless package of health and care services to the citizen.

A Virtual environment that delivers the opportunityfor self-help and offers individuals greater opportunity for continued independent living within their own homes.

This proposal encourages the:

  • Prevention of ill health through education,
  • Reduction of the physical footprint required to deliver services
  • Integration of all related health and  care services to create a seamless route to healthy living.

The benefits that will then  be accrued over time will begin to address the problem of increasing demand leading to unsustainable levels of cost. What is clear is that whilst spending every pound  efficiently is essential; for the long term new ways of delivering health and care  services must also be developed that remove some of the structural barriers to overall efficiency. Hence the reason Lord Patel of Bradford has called his report  ‘Breaking Barriers’.

As business transformation partner for the report, the approach  Sopra Steria has taken to support Lord Patel is to consider how demand can be  funnelled away from the physical environment allowing health and care professionals to  concentrate on the critical interventions that will always require their presence to provide their specific care expertise.

  Our diagram, right, illustrates how this may work in practice.

At the top of the funnel the intention is to develop long term solutions that prevent demand entering the Health care system by reducing the incidence of ill health and therefore reducing the need for care interventions. This is done by supporting individuals to be aware of the effect of their lifestyle choices and to encourage greater individual responsibility and activity to improve health and well-being.

An example of this approach is a project that Sopra Steria is supporting in Halton that encourages children to increase activity and thus reduce childhood obesity. It is hoped that laying strong healthy foundations will support and encourage a long term healthy lifestyle.

To divert demand, the second element of our approach is to migrate appropriate care from the physical environment into the virtual environment to support independent living.

Sopra Steria is exploring the application of a number of available technologies that help reduce costs of managing community care and also allow individuals to remain in their own homes, whilst still receiving crucial health management.

The final element of our approach is to manage the remaining demand by integrating whole life health and care support through both physical and virtual delivery hubs to:

  • Reduce inefficiency between related and interactive services
  • Simplify administration
  • Improve the overall quality of the whole care journey

The integrated physical environment brings together health providers, care providers and community groups to create a smart environment with a single view of the 
patient using enabling technologies to interact with the wider virtual environment to provide a seamless healthcare journey for the patient.

The ‘Breaking Barriers’ report initiates a new debate for a sustainable health and care sector. To ensure success the key recommendations that Sopra Steria would bring
to this debate are to develop:

  • Single leadership and catalyst for change
  • An agenda towards prevention
  • An integrated physical environment
  • A virtual environment
  • Technology enablement

Achieving this will begin to allow for expenditure to be controlled and for a positive future to develop in which every citizen can still be supported to live long and
healthy lives.