Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

How can we create smarter, healthier, connected communities?

October 23, 2018

By putting health and care at the heart of transformation

Skills shortages, shrinking work-forces, budget cuts, continual pressure to do more with less … times have rarely been tougher for public sector business and IT leaders.

As we all know, the NHS perpetually contends with funding constraints, lack of resources and physical capacity, while social care accounts for up to 70% of some local authority budgets. Combined with ageing populations, more people than ever being treated for chronic conditions and staff shortages, all are taking their toll on our health and care system.

And there seems to be little room for optimism. In the 2017 edition of PWC’s annual survey The Local State We’re In, 54% of respondents thought some local authorities were likely to endure severe financial difficulties during the following year. By 2018 this had risen to 74%, with 53% thinking that some councils would fail to deliver essential services.

The state of health and social care

The shift from ‘healthcare’ to ‘health and care’ is significant, as it reflects the day-to-day operational and financial pressures highlighted above. It also highlights the fact that lack of integration between health and social care services all too often leads to demands being shifted backwards and forwards between the two, resulting in even greater pressure on both.  Yet while the 2018 PWC survey reported that 81% of respondents thought health and social care integration would have a positive effect on health outcomes, only 28% said it would lead to savings or greater economic stability .

In such a difficult financial landscape, health and care business leaders and IT professionals are inevitably immersed in the here and now. So, how can we bridge the current divide between driving efficiencies and improving outcomes? And how can we make integrated health and care workable and beneficial to all?

With new ways of thinking and new models of care.

Thinking differently by thinking digitally

Our paper Thinking Digitally, addresses these issues by placing health and care at the forefront of smart community development, taking a hierarchical view in order to understand the needs of agencies across the whole community, and how each one operates.

Our vision is based on our ‘Whole System Approach’ model, a secure cross-community connectivity platform that unites all stakeholder organisations and underpins emerging new models of care. Our overarching message is one of re-use and re-exploitation of your digital technology investment, resulting in better information sharing and collaboration across health and social care.

Connected communities

We also demonstrate the role of health and social care in smart community evolution, with their potential to automate and deliver better public services while reducing costs, using real examples.  A healthier community helps reduce NHS and other expenditure, including social care provision. These savings can then be reinvested into other areas to create even smarter and more citizen-friendly environments, from smart lighting systems to help cut costs and reduce crime, to air quality and congestion monitoring, all of which contribute to creating healthier communities and better living environments.

Today’s technology investments can reap significant rewards tomorrow, so start thinking differently now by downloading Thinking Digitally and by contacting our dedicated health and care team. We’ve been operating in these area for more than 20 years so understand both the needs of these interconnected sectors and those of individual health and care organisations.

Let us help you think differently by thinking digitally.

For further information, visit our health and care, local government and smart communities webpages.

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