The Department of Health has launched more than 70 proposed quality indicators for community services alongside six guides to transforming community services.
The guides include advice on how IT can be harnessed to improve patient care, particularly through the sharing of information.
On end of life care, the examples of actions with the greatest potential to improve care include using IT to support shared care and making sure information on patients’ wishes, medications and specific conditions is available to out-of-hours providers and ambulance services.
On long term conditions, it is suggested that visits could be replaced with a telephone contact where appropriate, and that technology could be used to help people manage their own conditions.
The guides cover health, well-being and reducing inequalities, acute care closer to home, people with long term conditions, rehabilitation services, services for children and families and end of life care.
Health minister Lord Darzi said the guides aim to put quality at the heart of community services and introduce new, innovative working to improving people’s experience of being treated in the community.
He added: “Patients have told us that whenever it is safe, they prefer to be treated close to home. The six transformational guides for community services I am launching will give front line NHS staff all the information they need to help them change the way care is delivered to patients.”
The 76 proposed quality indicators have been devised following consultation with more than a third of primary care trusts and the DH said they would be subject to further refinement before a programme of piloting begins in September.
The guidance says a first batch of assured indicators will be published later in 2009 followed by a second batch early in 2010.
The potential indicators cover such areas as improvements in health outcomes and perceived quality of life as well as how long wounds take to heal and waiting times to access services.
The guidance says the DH is also exploring the extension of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) to cover patients’ experience of one of six long term conditions – asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, stroke, heart failure, epilepsy and diabetes.