As the UK Government looks to digital technology to shape the future of public services, Pearl Roberts, Client Development Director and Agilisys Care lead asks how ready local authorities are to adopt digital solutions to support a different type of relationship with citizens that will give them the choice and control they need to manage their own care.
Improving the relationship between citizens and the state is at the heart of both the UK Government’s Transformation Strategy as well as the Digital Strategy, which sets out a framework for how digital technology will provide us with more choice and control over the way we access and consume public services.
For some time local authorities have recognised the benefits of enabling citizens to access services online. Not only are there efficiency gains to be realised, but with more of us than ever before choosing to go online first, there is a demographic shift driving demand for ‘always-on’ public services. The potential to improve outcomes by putting the citizen at the heart of how such services are designed is significant; this is especially so in the area of health and social care.
There are a number of prerequisites to enable this transformation, foster a new mindset and support behavioural change. The challenges are not new and there is widespread recognition that a paradigm shift is required. Independent research tells us time and again that people want their care to be less intrusive, less fragmented and more community based. They favour local help from family and friends, community groups, volunteers and independent care solutions where they can be in control of their own lives and decisions.
So not only must digital care channels and tools engage people, be easy to use and support person-to-person services, they should also fully integrate into a whole system of care delivery.
Designing such services starts by “standing in the user’s shoes” and focusing on citizen needs rather than the needs of the system.
One of the most critical things to get right is helping people to navigate what can be highly complex health and social care systems. By researching and understanding the range of their citizens’ needs. By consulting with users to iteratively design and refine processes, forward thinking local authorities allow people to understand, fulfil and manage their care needs in easy to use, visually engaging formats. In turn this helps local authorities manage and focus scarce resources on supporting the most vulnerable citizens, who are often less able to make good, healthy, independent decisions.
At Agilisys we are working with a number of local authorities to tackle the often fragmented and complex nature of providing simple and straightforward information and advice. This includes helping citizens to navigate the seemingly vast resources available by signposting them to expert advice to help them make the right decisions about their care needs. Across the UK, citizens are using Agilisys Care solutions to find information and advice, check their eligibility for services, as well as purchase and manage their own care through online channels.
Following the implementation of My Care in Birmingham, a digital technology solution developed and delivered by Agilisys Care, Birmingham Council has seen a striking increase in the numbers of people who self-help and who use the online assessment and planning modules.
The effective use of digital technology enables citizens, whether they are supported by the state or not, to access appropriate information and advice at the right time. It reduces complexity, improves self-help and delivers a better customer experience. Most importantly it provides real choices to real people, building their knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver the outcomes they want through managing their own health and wellbeing. Learn more about how Agilisys Care can help give citizens across the UK more choice and control when it comes to their own care.