In4tek logoLinda Davidson

Numerous official enquiries in recent years have told us that health and social care agencies need to communicate more effectively if disasters such as the death of Victoria Climbie are to be avoided. Being able to do something about the problem is a big driver for Cheshire-based IT firm, in4tek.

in4tek has developed a system, Paris, which helps health and social care professionals share information across organisational barriers and serves authorities around the country from Belfast to Torbay and Southampton to Swansea.

More recently it has secured a technology transfer agreement with GE/IDX to provide the community elements of the Carecast system, due to be deployed in the London cluster of the National Programme for IT and internationally.


Tom NawojczykChief executive, Tom Nawojczyk (right) says the knowledge that the company has a product which will help prevent tragedies caused by incomplete information and poor communication is important to his team.

"It’s the thing that brings people together. People in the company are passionate about that. Many people claim these things, they talk about part solutions, integrating stand alone systems, but that’s a major headache, they don’t actually have a fully integrated health and social care system, you need the holistic real time picture to be effective" he said.

The company was formed just over 20 years ago as a management buy-out – led by Nawojczyk – of the healthcare business from a larger firm Maxima plc. During the late 80s and early 90s, in4tek developed software for child health, mental health and the allied health professionals working in the community.

In the late 90s there was an indication of demand from community trusts for a solution covering the whole gamut of activity. There was a snag, however. Nawojczyk explains: “The scale of the re-write was bigger than the market would stand. We determined the solution was write one product and address another market.”

Social care was the obvious adjacent area of activity and, when in4tek researched the two areas it found a 60-80% core overlap between health and social care.

Then, according to Nawojczyk, in4tek benefitted from a little serendipity. Having completed a number of projects for the Department of Health it was sponsored to participate in an EU-funded project called ITHACA which focused on health and social care and involved nine European countries and Saskatchewan in Canada.

“We used the research and development to produce a product that would address health and social care,” he explained.

Bridging cultures

"The biggest barrier is social care financials which are extremely complex."

— Tom Nawojczyk, chief executive, in4tek

The second break was an invitation to present the system in Canada where an overlap was seen with Canadian health and social care systems.

Traditionally seen as having different cultures and approaches to people in their care, Nawojczyk believes health and social care services actually have more in common than they think. “There are substantial barriers, though. The biggest barrier is social care financials which are extremely complex," he says. 

"In community healthcare you have three entities, community services, mental health and child health. Interestingly, the good work that occurred in the 90s towards providing a single system to integrate the community services and eliminate duplication and errors, is being undone via the various re-organisations of community since 2000 and latterly via implementation of interim stand alone systems pending eventual delivery of new technology via the Connecting for Health local service providers.

Nawojczk says that in social care the number of ”initiatives" are overwhelming compared to the health market. In fact, he feels the community health market appears be in ‘stasis’ having not benefited from any initiatives since the millennium.Technology providers also have to keep pace with the plethora of initiatives which mean frequent changes.

In social care technology providers have to keep pace with the plethora of local government initiatives aimed at better care which mean frequent changes. "There’s a new agenda in social care every six to twelve months as far as we can see," says Nawojczyk.

He maintains that in the mid 90s many, if not most community health organisations were in advance of social care in their thinking and systems to support clients and staff; this position has now been eroded by lack of focus, innovation and direction.

Nawojczyk says he believes in innovative solutions and investment in product. This approach, coupled with the complex and ever-changing picture in the sectors in4tek serves, explains why in4tek’s development investment is significantly higher than the industry average and he believes this is key to the company’s success.

This is, however, always a two way path says Nawojczyk. To advance and exploit technology and empower organisations you need drive and motivation from both clients and suppliers acting in tandem.

The company maintains a healthy position by balancing revenues from different areas, so that it is not over-dependent on one particular set of customers or one country. There are customers in Canada; in4tek is set to launch in the North European market in the summer and has ambitions to enter the US.

One of the problems is that the time taken to complete procurements can be very long. For example, an authority that concluded a contract last year had been talking to in4tek since 1998.

In4tek has a significant launch later this year. “Our big investment was to complete Paris Financials which will go live at the end of the summer in Cheshire County Council. It completes our product set in social services – it’s taken a couple of years to get there.”

“There’s always an ebb and flow,” he says. “The saving grace in social services is that there’s always something new.”


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