Digital software provider Servelec has acquired social prescribing technology specialists Elemental Software.

Derry-based Elemental uses technology to connect people to the right support services in their community in a bid to address social issues they are experiencing and reduce pressure on health services.

Social prescribing is viewed as a vital element to helping the UK cope with the long-term impacts of Covid-19, which prompted Servelec to move into this space with the acquisition of Elemental.

The move will allow Servelec to support public services at a community level and champion an open ecosystem by working with other tech suppliers to join up health and care, according to a statement from the company.

The acquisition will enable Servelec to offer social prescribing through integrations with its Rio electronic patient record (EPR) and Mosaic social care case management software, which is already in use across more than 45 NHS trusts and more 150 local authorities.

Ian Crichton, chief executive of Servelec, said: “In keeping with our commitment to improve lives with technology that matters, we’ll be supporting Elemental to accelerate its plans for growth and further drive the successful adoption and implementation of social prescribing across the UK.

“With its focus on joining up community health and wellbeing and reducing health inequality, Elemental is clearly well-aligned with our aim of connecting communities through digital care.

“Together, through social prescribing, we have a huge opportunity to connect people with the community-based programmes, services and interventions that make a positive impact on their lives.”

Social prescribing is a method of signposting people to non-medical sources of support within the community to help improve their wellbeing. It often includes activities like fitness, gardening, cooking, and support groups.

It can help reduce demand for frontline services and is proven to improve the lives of people with social, emotional or practical needs that can’t be met by doctors or medication alone.

Jennifer Neff, chief executive of Elemental, added: “This is really good news for social prescribing. Servelec shares a similar commitment to improving lives with technology and is strongly committed to accelerating Elemental’s growth to drive the successful adoption and implementation of social prescribing.

“Working with our team at Elemental and our new colleagues at Servelec, we can’t wait to get going with maximising the potential that the coming together of these two fast growing businesses provides.”

Elemental recently became the first social prescribing solution to be added to the NHS GP IT Futures Framework.

Social prescribing has been part of the General Medical Services contract since 2019 but until Elemental’s inclusion did not form part of GP IT systems.

The NHS Long Term Plan suggests that nearly one million people will qualify for referral to social prescribing schemes by 2024.

In summer 2020 the British Medical Association said social prescribing should be incorporated into GP IT systems to ensure practices reach their “full potential”.