“The Information Sharing Gateway has made it possible to establish the information governance assurance level of our partners at a glance. We have agreed common rules of information sharing and are able to map data flows all in one place with quick and easy sign-off by the right people.
Spreadsheets, paper agreements, SharePoint directories and scanned signature sheets are all, thankfully, history.”
Tony Atkinson, Information Sharing and Privacy Coordinator, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
The Information Sharing Gateway provides a simple answer to a big challenge for public sector organisations – overcoming information governance requirements when sharing records.
The solution was developed with funding from the Innovation Agency and has been adopted by more than 1,100 organisations across England within just three years – with the likelihood of national coverage within a few more years.
A group of information governance (IG) specialists from organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria developed the system, to improve and modernise the administration and risk assessment of information sharing in the public sector.
Having come up with the idea of a single gateway, the challenge was to find funding for a project which spanned different organisations – and didn’t match funding specifications which were focussed on technologies.
The answer came from the Innovation Agency-funded Lancashire Person Record Exchange System (LPRES) team, who awarded £100,000 for the Gateway to be developed. They recognised the value of the Gateway in supporting LPRES, a healthcare information exchange platform which received more than £200,000 from the Innovation Agency over its first two years.
Information sharing agreements can now be created and agreed at a scale and pace that matches the capacity of interoperable systems to share data, speeding the delivery of service transformation.
Challenge/ problem identified
Information Governance specialists were stuck with bureaucratic procedures from the 1990s to develop information sharing agreements to underpin new models of care.
In the past, information governance has held up the technical sharing of data for months while sharing agreements were signed – often on paper – necessitating a cumbersome bureaucratic paper chase. IG is a back-room service that had not been given suitable investment to modernise its processes.
As dozens of organisations are often involved in each agreement and there is a requirement for regular review, the status and tracking of the agreements was a nightmare. Large organisations such as local authorities and NHS trusts may have more than 100 of these agreements to manage, with more being added all the time as the requirement to support integration of services and new care pathways expands.
The public sector needs to transform the delivery of services – integrate services, provide ‘one stop’ solutions for customers. Much of this work is predicated on information sharing between partners.
The Innovation Agency was a catalyst for the development of the Lancashire Person Record Exchange System and subsequently the Information Sharing Gateway.
The AHSN provided more than £200,000 to LPRES over two years, leveraging further support from throughout the health system. The LPRES programme team directed £100,000 of the funding to the development of the Information Sharing Gateway, with the backing of the Innovation Agency.
Starting development in November 2014, within 12 months the Gateway had won an iNetwork Innovation Award. As of June 2017, more than 1,100 public sector organisations across England use the system and it is financially sustainable.
The development partners were:
- LPRES (which directed the Innovation Agency funding to the collaborative group) based at North West Shared Infrastructure Service (NWSIS)
- Blackpool Council
- NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group
- Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Lancashire County Council
- Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Lancashire Constabulary
- North West Ambulance Service
- University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
- Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Less than three years after starting its development, by June 2017 there were 2,006 users in 1,138 organisations using the Information Sharing Gateway to manage 659 data sharing agreements.
Creating trust is an important factor in information sharing and this happens instantly because the Gateway allows a user to see the level of information governance compliance of other organisations, through common standards such as ICO registration, IG Tool Kit or Public Service Network compliance etc, supplemented by common terms of reference.
The organisations include:
LPRES; the Great Northern Care Record and Connected Health Cities across the North of England; Greater Manchester Connect; Health Education England and their sharing partners.
The Information Sharing Gateway is used by NHS, local authorities, police, third sector, schools and many other organisations in London, the South West, Midlands and North – and one in the Netherlands.
“The Innovation Agency funded a group of professionals to solve their own problems and develop a solution fit for information sharing across different systems, when there was no prospect of funding being available. The role of the Innovation Agency has been crucial in LPRES and in the exciting success of the rapidly spreading Information Sharing Gateway.”
Helen Speed, IG Lead for LPRES
Plans for the future
The Gateway is being spread to all parts of the country and is attracting interest from overseas, with the first registration of a Netherlands organisation in 2017. The plan is to cover the country and to reinvest income from its wider adoption, into continuing developments.
The key item under development currently is an API to enable ‘live’ dynamic sharing agreements and integration with data exchange platforms (eg Tiani Spirit / Graphnet) and other systems.
The system will be fine-tuned for the new General Data Protection Regulations which will be introduced in May 2018, so that all users will be compliant in their data sharing from day one of the new rules.
The design has been made easy for small organisations such as GP practices to use, and costs are kept to a minimum.
Which national clinical or policy priorities does this example address?
- Care and Quality
- Funding and Efficiency
- Health and Wellbeing
Start and end dates
Work started in November 2014 and the system is now sustainable. Adoption and spread is ongoing.
Contact for help and advice
Project contact for further information:
Kevin Whittaker (ISG Programme Mgr)
Media contact for further information:
Caroline Kenyon, Director of Communications and Engagement, Innovation Agency
T: 01772 520280