ICSs & working together: The role of digital transformation

Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are local partnerships that bring health and care organisations together to develop shared plans and joined-up services - striving to deliver seamless, patient-centric care. They include local partners – namely NHS organisations and local governments – who work together to create and deliver better services based on local needs.  

As the landscape of healthcare continues to evolve, digital transformation emerges as a crucial enabler for ICSs to work together more effectively. Leveraging technologies such as eForms, mobile apps, robotic process automation (RPA), workflows, APIs, and web services allows ICSs to enhance communication, streamline processes, and share critical data. In this edition of Hot Topics, we’re taking a closer look at digital transformation’s role in enabling this all-important cross-organisation collaboration. 


Accurate data collection for all 

Browser-based eForms have become an integral part of digital transformation in healthcare. They allow for the efficient collection and standardisation of patient information, making it far easier to gather accurate and up-to-date information. eForms reduce the risk of error and enhance continuity of care, all while providing convenient digital-first services for both patients and professionals. They also provide a reliable data set that can be shared across multiple stakeholders. 

Overall, eForms have the potential to revolutionise the way ICSs handle data collection and management. By replacing paper forms with digital alternatives, healthcare providers and local councils can: 

  • Ensure accuracy and completeness: eForms can include mandatory fields and real-time validation, reducing errors and incomplete submissions. 
  • Facilitate easy data sharing: Access to data collected by eForms can be shared and accessed by authorised personnel, enhancing collaboration and data integration across the ICS. Other technologies (such as RPA and workflow) can easily synchronise this data across multiple back-office systems in end-to-end processes. 
  • Reduce environmental impacts: The shift from paper to digital significantly reduces the environmental footprint of healthcare operations, in line with net zero plans held across the UK public sector. 

Learn more about eForms 


Empower healthcare providers on the go 

Mobile apps are transforming the way healthcare providers interact with patients - and each other. For ICSs, mobile apps facilitate real-time communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals, regardless of their location. 

A mobile app can provide instant access to information such as patient records, appointment schedules, and treatment plans – even when away from base. This mobility ensures that healthcare providers can make informed decisions quickly, improving the overall efficiency of community care delivery. Mobile apps provide a whole host of functionality - they can be used for remote monitoring of patients, enabling proactive management of chronic conditions and reducing the need for hospital visits. The possibilities are (almost) endless, with apps providing several benefits in healthcare: 

  • Enhanced mobility: Healthcare professionals and council workers can access patient information and clinical guidelines anytime, anywhere. Most apps can even be used offline, synchronising with relevant systems once connection is restored. 
  • Real-time updates: Mobile apps ensure critical updates and notifications are received promptly, improving response times and care coordination – especially advantageous when care includes several providers. 
  • Patient interaction: Apps allow patients to book appointments, access their health records, and communicate with their healthcare providers, fostering a more engaged patient population. They can be designed with added accessibility and inclusivity features too, ensuring equal access to services for all.  

Learn more about apps 


Synchronise disparate systems 

RPA is a game-changer in reducing the administrative burden on healthcare staff. We’ve seen time and time again how the automation of repetitive and time-consuming tasks allows healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care. This is especially true when multiple organisations are working together, often with multiple back-office systems to contend with.  

RPA works with software just as a person would, emulating keyboard strokes and clicks – but without error, and at a highly increased pace, without the need for breaks. It has the potential to free administrators from monotonous, repetitive tasks – such as data rekeying and synchronisation – allowing them to spend more time on the people-centric work that requires thought and attention. Within an ICS, professionals in each respective organisation must have access to the same accurate information, but within differing disparate systems. RPA can help in a number of ways: 

  • Data integration: By automating data transfer between systems, RPA ensures that all relevant information is consistently updated across various platforms, minimising discrepancies and improving data accuracy. 
  • Task automation: Routine tasks such as appointment scheduling, billing, and data entry can be automated, reducing the workload on staff and allowing them to concentrate on direct patient care and other critical responsibilities. 
  • Process standardisation: RPA can standardise workflows across different organisations within an ICS, ensuring that all follow the same procedures, thereby reducing variability and improving the overall efficiency of care delivery. 

Learn more about RPA 


Enabling seamless communication  

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and web services play a vital role in enabling seamless communication between different software systems used by ICSs. They allow disparate systems to connect and interact, facilitating the smooth exchange of data whilst enhancing interoperability. APIs are particularly valuable in the healthcare setting for several reasons: 

  • Interoperability: APIs allow different systems to communicate and share data effortlessly, which is essential for the integrated care model of ICSs. This ensures that patient information is up-to-date and accessible to all relevant parties, allowing healthcare providers to deliver better care. 
  • Flexibility: They provide the flexibility to integrate new technologies and services into existing systems without significant overhauls, making it easier to adopt innovative solutions and new technologies – such as cognitive services and AI. 
  • Secure data exchange: Web services ensure that data exchanged between systems is secure and compliant with regulatory standards, protecting patient privacy and maintaining data integrity. 

Learn more about APIs & web services 


Streamline complex processes  

Workflow automation is crucial for enhancing efficiency and consistency within ICSs. By incorporating the above technologies to streamline complex end-to-end processes, ICSs can reduce errors, improve coordination, and free up staff for more critical tasks. This technology ensures that all steps in a large process are followed uniformly, which is essential for delivering high-quality care – as many processes require multiple touchpoints and collaboration across organisations. 

  • Consistency and standardisation: Workflow ensures uniformity in processes, reducing variability in care delivery between providers or organisations. 
  • Improved efficiency: Workflow can simplify and manage incredibly complex processes, which can significantly speed up large tasks while reducing manual intervention, freeing up healthcare workers and administrators for more critical or people-centric activities. 
  • Error reduction: Workflow also minimises human error in repetitive, lengthy and complicated tasks, enhancing patient experience and outcomes. 

Learn more about workflow 


Evolve your ICS 

Digital transformation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental shift in how healthcare services are delivered. For ICSs, embracing technologies such as eForms, mobile apps, RPA, APIs, web services and workflows is crucial in creating a cohesive and efficient healthcare ecosystem. These digital transformation technologies empower healthcare professionals, streamline processes, and improve patient experience by ensuring accurate, real-time information is available across all levels of care – in multiple organisations, supporting successful collaboration. 

To learn more about the Evolve Digital Transformation Platform, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team. Looking for more inspiration first? Take a look at our ever-growing library of real-life public sector use cases.