The Information Sharing Challenge Fund

Published on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 10:11
Written by Bill McAvoy

The Information Sharing Challenge Fund , launched on 31August, will award up to £99,000 to NHS organisations that come up with new digital services that improve patient care and help share information more easily across the NHS

The fund is looking for innovative ideas that demonstrate value for money and can be easily adopted by other NHS organisations as part of the NHS interoperability toolkit. The Fund is particularly targeted at local information sharing initiatives, which are likely to be part of wider quality and efficiency improvement programmes.

Seamless, integrated care within and between organisations will mean that patients can be confident that healthcare staff supporting and providing their care will have access to up-to-date and accurate information about them. The way information is shared and being used is changing, so it is available to patients, clinicians and NHS staff, where and when they need it. This will give healthcare staff a more complete picture of each patient so they can make decisions that more closely meet their individual needs and wishes.

The power of information [], a ten year Information Strategy for health and social care, published in May 2012, highlights ways information must be used to drive better health, care and support and to improve the experience, quality and outcomes of health and care services. The Fund supports a number of the key aims outlined in the strategy, particularly the need to have information systems built on innovative and integrated solutions and local decision-making. It is imperative that these systems operate within a framework of national standards to ensure information can be accessed freely, safely and securely at the point of care. The Fund is looking for innovative ideas that can drive this forward.

Funding is available to support local information sharing projects that meet the overarching challenge of achieving integrated care. Projects are expected to lead to a successful deployment and use in an NHS environment based on the NHS Interoperability Toolkit [], by 31March 2013. The challenge is open to all eligible NHS organisations, and may be used to support other care providers, including social care, where appropriate local funding arrangements are in place.

The intent of the Information Sharing Challenge Fund is not just to help organisations join up local systems and make this a reality, but to create an environment where technical and commercial barriers to information sharing are reduced across the NHS. By creating and sharing digital services, based on common standards, NHS organisations will benefit from the reduced costs and improved efficiencies associated with sharing technology. Part of the reason for launching the Fund is to better understand the priority areas for which there is a demand for national standards and where organisations are looking to exchange digital information, to improve efficiency or patient care.

The Interoperability Toolkit already includes a number of standards for sharing information such as clinical correspondence. Examples of innovative digital services include, but are not limited to, are Telehealth and maternity digital capture. These types of systems enable improved patient care by transferring data from digital systems, such as tablet PCs, digital pens and remote patient monitoring systems to central clinical records to be shared with patients and health care professionals.

The closing date for submission is 12 noon on 5October 2012.

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