Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Approaches to Information Sharing and Assessment: Evidence from a Demonstration Program

Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Approaches to Information Sharing and Assessment: Evidence from a Demonstration Program

Article excerpt

This article categorizes and delineates approaches to information sharing and assessment in a demonstration program established by central government in England. Its purpose was to develop and test a set of principles relating to a general assessment framework for adults in demonstrator sites, maximizing the use of information technology where feasible. The method employed comprised the systematic analysis of documents associated with the funding application and a telephone interview with personnel in each site. Data were collected from 17 initiatives, 13 of which provided detailed information on information sharing within the assessment process. A taxonomy of approaches was produced and information sharing in the assessment process reported in terms of setting and personnel; approaches to data collection, storage, and transfer; and changes to the process. A classification of the initiatives within a demonstration program was a useful means of describing them. Measures of intermediate outcomes captured changes in information sharing between agencies. Local initiatives were successful in promoting electronic information sharing between health and social care agencies.

Keywords: care coordination; information technology; multidisciplinary working; information transfer

Improving data sharing and communication between health and social care professionals is essential for better joint working, reducing gaps, overlaps, duplication in delivery, and providing better quality care (Edwards & Miller, 2003). In England, its importance was noted at the inception of the community care reforms with health and social care services required to work effectively together and "seek and share advice and information when relevant" (Department of Health, 1989, p. 13). Since then, policy and guidance has sought to encourage the development of information-sharing policies and information technology within the care coordination process. In particular, electronic records have been promoted as a means of sharing information between professionals, particularly within mental health and older people's services (Department of Health, 1995, 1999, 2001a). Moreover, the development of the Single Assessment Process for older people provided an impetus for the implementation of shared assessment information in the form of an assessment summary and summary care plan, considered to complement but not replace individual professional records (Department of Health, 2001a, 2002a, 2002b). Subsequently, there was an indication that this model, which later became known as the common assessment framework (CAF), could be extended to other client groups (Department of Health, 2006). The CAF was intended to "provide a framework for sharing information which is useful to the individual, the different professionals that may be involved in the assessment and, ultimately, to independent and third sector providers" (Department of Health, 2009, p. 10). Although the focus of the proposals for a CAF was on the information necessary for multidisciplinary assessment, it was also recognized that appropriate information was needed to inform all assessments. It was surmised that the CAF could provide a basis for the development of integrated electronic records to facilitate more efficient, timely, and secure exchange of information around assessments, support, and care planning on the premise that there were "efficiencies to be gained from improved information sharing" (Department of Health, 2009, p. 13). Concurrently, multidisciplinary assessment had been encouraged within mental health, older people's, and learning disability services with a focus on avoiding duplication and inefficiency and improving consistency, targeting, and coordination of assessments (Department for Education, 2011; Department of Health, 2012a).

This article focuses on a subset of data collected through an evaluation of pilot schemes established through the "National Evaluation of the Common Assessment Framework for Adults Demonstrator Sites" program funded by central government which began in 2009. …

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