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New report recommends steps to improve social care data maturity

New report recommends steps to improve social care data maturity

| Social Care Wales

A new report has outlined steps that should be taken to support local authorities in Wales to improve their social care data maturity.

‘Data maturity’ refers to the readiness of an organisation to make best use of the data it holds.

We commissioned a company called Alma Economics to carry out an independent data maturity assessment of all local authorities in Wales.

The local authorities completed a questionnaire about different aspects of their social care data functions. Each authority then received a summary report which provided advice on the steps it could take to improve its own data maturity.

Alma Economics also used the assessments from all 22 local authorities to produce a national report which gives an overview of the social care data landscape in Wales. The local authorities remain anonymous in this report.

The research found that data was widely considered a core priority for local authorities, while most have robust data collection processes in place and use data to influence policymaking.

But the report also identified areas for improvement. These include a need to increase skills and resources to make the most of social care data, making data systems more user-friendly and compatible, and making sure data is shared effectively with other organisations.

The questionnaire also explored the sector’s readiness to integrate social care data with healthcare data through the National Data Resource (NDR), which would mean being compatible with the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards. FHIR standards are an internationally recognised way of describing healthcare data and have been selected by the four UK nations as the standard of choice.

Among the findings related to FHIR compatibility were that many local authorities have not yet developed robust data exchange practices, while most still rely on manual and semi-structured data formats like Excel (96 per cent) and Word or PDF (72 per cent) to exchange data.

Find out more about FHIR

You can find out more about FHIR standards and why they're important to social care in a blog on our Insight Collective website.

What the report recommends

The report acknowledges that additional funding and collaboration across the sector will be important in increasing data maturity in social care and delivering on its recommendations, which include:

  • expand the data maturity assessment to other social care organisations
  • building on our Statement of strategic intent, the sector should develop a data strategy and roadmap outlining clear actions to improve data maturity
  • a sector-wide ‘data dictionary’ should be developed, to standardise definitions of core social care data
  • data maturity should be monitored over time through follow-up assessments or self-assessment tools
  • social care organisations should develop individual data maturity action plans, informed by sector-wide strategies and individual assessments.

The report makes other recommendations specific to supporting compatibility with FHIR, which is pronounced ‘fire’, including:

  • raise awareness of the NDR in the social care sector
  • carry out a FHIR-compatibility review
  • work together to create an action plan for achieving FHIR compatibility, and set up a multidisciplinary working group to oversee its implementation
  • work with systems suppliers to align data systems with FHIR standards
  • increase awareness and knowledge of FHIR standards through targeted training and events
  • develop a set of shared FHIR resources to support local authorities and other social care organisations on their way to FHIR compatibility.

We’re talking to our partners about how we can work together to address the recommendations in the report.

Read the report

Read the report on our Insight Collective website.

Find out more

If you’d like to know more about the report, please contact data@socialcare.wales.