Abstract for: Evaluating the Effect of Integrated Health and Social Care Information Systems on Delayed Discharging of Patients

The integration between health and social care organisations in the UK is an acknowledged public policy problem. Despite government efforts at implementing ‘joined up thinking’, government have found this area frustratingly ‘policy resistant’. The focus of this paper is to look at the effect that integrated health and social care information systems can have on delayed discharging of elderly patients in the UK National Health Service (NHS) and Social Services. A case study approach has been applied of the elderly care wards from hospitals at two NHS trusts and a social services department. System dynamics and Soft Systems Methodology are used to test the proposition that information systems can achieve a significant improvement in reducing delayed discharges. The conclusions are that these methodologies provide a sound test bed for the proposition and that integrated information systems can be useful. However, only if they stimulate action when there is limited health and social care capacity present. Integrated information systems should be used by managers to inform them of the capacity changes that need to be made throughout the patient process, helping to ensure there is a greater response and action in reducing delayed discharges.