National Health Service (NHS) and social care services are failing to coordinate their IT requirements and standards, hindering the delivery of services that fit together, IT suppliers have warned.
A new report from IT suppliers' body Intellect says the current state of IT in the NHS and social care services is a barrier to the government's vision of joined-up services.
"The problem lies not with the technology which has long been in existence and fit for purpose, but with the disparity between agencies in regard to such crucial aspects as IT investment planning, adoption of common standards and joint policies for managing security and confidentiality," it said.
The government is seeking to increase information sharing between public sector agencies, but the Intellect report highlights "the lack of agreed policy for common access or for exchange of shared information" that means NHS and social care data about the same individual is not linked.
Tom Nawojczyk, chair of the Intellect health and social care group said: "The current gaps in critical knowledge of risks and vulnerability that exist because of data silos must be addressed. We need a joined-up view of critical patient information to be able to support joined-up service provision."
The report adds that social care IT systems, based in local government, are not currently connected to the NHS Spine created under the £12.4 billion NHS National Programme for IT.
"This means that current rules prohibit social services suppliers exchanging information with NHS systems and demographic and assessment information has to be entered into both systems," the report said.
There is also a disparity in investment levels, with NHS IT "well funded and highly centralised in contrast to the fully devolved and locally determined investment that is evident in local government," Intellect points out.
The report calls for improved coordination between the different areas of government running NHS and care services, agreed standards to be introduced across health and social care systems and for IT systems to support "person-centred care," rather than reinforcing separate service silos.
It also calls for a smarter procurement process, stronger leadership and greater sharing of best practice among health and social care practitioners.