For years work on standards and interoperability in social care has been ongoing to help enable better sharing of data across the public sector.
What that means in real terms is being able to provide better, cheaper services by stopping duplication and securely sharing information in and across public sector organisations such as councils and the NHS.
What’s important to remember is that IT systems and data are there to support a service, and if services are different, then the schema for data and the IT systems which support the service will be different.
Even when there’s specific legislation such as GDPR, local interpretation can be different, and where there isn’t legislation service delivery can vary even more. So the challenge is really how do we influence the interpretation of legislation where it exists and the overall delivery of services, because only then will we really start to solve this problem.
Whilst this is often posed as a digital or IT problem, it’s a human issue not a technology one, and the real challenge is how we successfully make the case for standards and interoperability to the decision and policy makers in public sector organisations.
To do this we need to understand why policy makers have interpreted the same legislation or designed their services differently. Was this a political decision, was it based on finances, was it based on local user needs, and what other factors have influenced their local policy. If this is known we’ll be able to frame why standards and interoperability can create better services and promote what’s in it for each organisation and individual roles within it.
IT systems and data are a solution to a problem and what I think we should be asking are not questions such as “how might we better influence social care system vendors to support effective information adoption”, but “how do we build more consistent services across local government”, because only then will we really start to common standards and system interoperability emerge in social care.