Man prepares for CQC virtual inspection

By David Lynes, Managing Director of Unique IQ

Following emergency procedures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the CQC has been setting-out its approach to regulation and inspection going forward. And it is a welcome move towards digitisation.

From September, the CQC has announced it will be piloting virtual inspections with willing domiciliary care providers. Gathering evidence through the use of technology, such as videoconferencing and care management systems, the pilot project will attempt to determine whether inspectors can come to an “effective and robust judgement virtually”.

And the regulator has laid-out its new ‘digital first’ strategy from mid-2021, with a much heavier focus on using technology in regulation. Elements so far revealed, include:

  • A new digital platform for provider engagement – described as “an ongoing portal that allows care providers to upload data and information”
  • Mobile apps to support inspection and enforcement
  • The use of AI in risk assessment and intelligence

However, whilst a digital platform for sharing care information from providers is a major part of the CQC’s strategy, it admits that work on using data from care management software is not as advanced as it could be.

Inspectors are told that the use of digital care planning is the way forward, and driving improvement through technology has been a strategic priority of the Commission’s for some time now. And yet, the potential for real-time data about care provision remains untapped.

We know that there is appetite from home care providers to use the tools at their disposal in inspections. Anecdotally, providers that are using our Care Quality Management dashboard have told us that the information it provides saves 2-4 of weeks of manual data processing needed to complete a pre-inspection report.

And we are seeing leaders from all parts of the care sector calling for a more powerful and sophisticated use of the insights that become available as home care is digitised.

In just one example of how this could work, NHS Digital recently announced plans to collect anonymised social care data to support research into the spread of COVID-19, by collaborating with members of CASPA – the Care Software Providers Association. The data, which includes demographic and location information, as well as types of care given, will help to identify trends in the pandemic, and support planning for a potential next wave of the virus.

It is a perfect example of how care management systems can provide that much-needed evidence base for social care.

So we fully support the Care Quality Commission’s move towards digital inspection tools; it is our hope and ambition that the very best of what technology has to offer, will be an important driver of outstanding standards in care.

Want to know more about technology and the CQC? Read our guide here.

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