We asked the TEC sector for their thoughts on how they see the technology enabled care sector developing into 2021 as we gradually come out of a unique year of pandemic.
Iain McBeath, Strategic Director, Health and Wellbeing, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
One of the few bright spots from the last twelve months is how we’ve had to embrace technology even more fully to work safely. Be this using video-conferencing software in order to work from home, document management systems to access our post or tracking systems to account for our performance. This is also true in the front-line of care. Every care home now uses the National Care Home Tracker and every social worker has conducted multiple assessments over the phone or Zoom etc. Any previous reluctance is gone forever and we must harness this new expectation that a proportion of our work will always be this way now.
But we need to go further. Covid-19 has also taught us painfully what we all value highly – human connection. Whilst many have taken up the gambit and conquered Skype, many are still left excluded. And local groups that used to meet still do not; I fear there will be a suspicion of the consequences of not socially distancing for some time and we need to secure more digital alternatives. We also need to do more to pro-actively and automatically present these alternatives to people, rather like Amazon tempting you after your latest purchase. Those messages in real time to cajole and persuade people to get involved will become the norm.
I also predict that the mystery which has evaded us for so long will be solved: why hasn’t anywhere truly integrated a care and technology service? I believe the answer is simple – we’ve always asked [tendered] for what we’ve always had, with a few bells and whistles. Councils and their NHS partners tendering for a collaborative digital and care solution to support people in their own homes will become the most obvious thing in 2021. Not only more responsive and flexible, but more trusting and outcome-focussed, we’ll wonder it took so long.
Helen Dempster, Chief Visionary Officer at Karantis360
Currently there is a government-initiated drive towards improving collaboration across health and social care services to be achieved throughout 2021. Local authorities and CCGs will work in partnership to enable safer discharge from acute health settings and to prevent readmission – critical to reducing mounting NHS pressure and importantly improving patient outcomes. And as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, a more joined-up and coordinated approach to care is required meaning the NHS and social care services will continue to work in close partnership at every level post-pandemic.
The switch towards a more holistic care approach will be achieved through the increased adoption of digital tools such as risk analysis, AI, IoT, remote biometric measurements, and machine learning. All of these components work together to form part of an advanced person-centric, remote patient monitoring and care solution that is essential to support the care sector which continues to buckle under intense and relentless strain. The combination of behavioural and clinical data will provide caregivers with more meaningful information that can empower them to intervene at the right time and create a care programme that best suits the needs of the individual. Detecting early warning signs through the use of at-home monitoring technology before the patient reaches a critical point will reduce the high emergency cost to the NHS, and most importantly improve patient outcomes.
These data driven solutions will provide a platform for the end-to-end digitisation of healthcare, coordinating the ecosystem of local authorities, healthcare providers, NHS Trusts, GPs, registered nurses and care homes, inspiring a more proactive and interlinked approach to care.
Furthermore, the drive towards a more integrated healthcare model will be supported with the planned roll out of a national LoRaWAN network, meaning that remote patient monitoring will be enabled outside of the home and enables data communication over a long-range using very little power. As such, advanced remote patient monitoring solutions will not be limited to collecting data solely from the home environment but will also be able to utilise IoT sensors that can monitor individuals outside of the home, tracking the location, movements, and – where appropriate – the biometrics of an individual. Analytics will then be applied to the collected data for an understanding of what is happening from both in and away from the home – empowering healthcare professionals with the data they need for even further proactive and informed care decisions.
Hector and Monty Alexander, Founders at Yokeru
Getting clever with data.
There will be a realisation that more data does not inevitably deliver better outcomes. Technology is now sophisticated enough to measure every moment of my day, every journey I make and every item I consume (from Netflix to nachos). It’s possible to drown in even a shallow pool of data. More data means more opportunity for error; a more significant burden of interpretation on the care provider and messier integrations. Clever data (a term coined by me moments ago) will produce insights, not only numbers on a screen. It will input those insights into existing care management systems so that carers can do something about it! Actionable is a word flung around plenty- but this ‘clever’ data can and will be actioned.
Say hello to (more) software companies.
There’s heavy competition out there if you’re developing monitoring devices. But, the competition is less if you’re only doing the software bit. I’ve, above, identified a need for more actionable insights There will be a fresh crop of analytics-led software companies. Their arrival will be coincident with the centralisation of hardware companies. Samsung’s range of sensors is an example. Hardware is hard to make (I wonder if that’s how it got its name?!) and efficiencies at scale are sure to bake-in centralisation.
Renewed focus on outcomes
Government purse strings are to be pulled tight. Care delivery will continue to be increasingly out-sourced to Lead Providers to maintain service quality and benefit from efficiencies. Outcomes will fall centre-stage during procurement exercises. While this is not tech forecasting per-say, the focus on outcomes does have a meaningful impact on care tech. Providers will need to evidence how or why a piece of technology is valuable to the service user or the authority. Is it going to avoid cost? If so, is there evidence? If not, will an academic study be done? While it might immediately halt new technology in the market, answering these questions (and others) fully will expedite the adoption of new tech. The tech that delivers excellent human and financial outcomes will perform well in measured pilots. Once the results are in, it will be easier for authorities to adopt it. It’s up to third party organisations (perhaps TSA, perhaps ADASS) to set the standard of what to measure, and for how long. As I’ve written about elsewhere, death by endless unmeasured (and poorly funded) pilots is a destination many innovative companies arrive at: wasteful pilots can be avoided by more rigorous testing up-front.
I’m now going to talk about Yokeru with its AI calling platform, is enabling care providers to speak to thousands of individuals simultaneously. Direct-to-Service User technology will be in the next generation of care tech solutions. It will help providers understand individuals. The platform asks questions and understands needs. Yokeru’s technology means authorities can attend to an individual’s needs before they develop or deteriorate. Authorities can support people proactively, preventing suffering. Plus, money is saved. All in all, it’s a positive story.
Andy Dalby, Partnerships at PGS Software
2020 taught the world a multitude of lessons, including the importance of technology in bringing people and communities together when they most needed it. Many businesses swept aside long-standing strategic plans and instead changed rapidly and pivoted. Technology and solutions adapted at a pace never seen before. Everyone focused on what really mattered today and made incredibly courageous decisions.
In 2020 our teams evidenced this when we helped a global healthcare technology organisation pivot their entire business model by rapidly integrating and re-platforming most of its solution portfolio. We believe this is a solid example of what can be achieved by smart people working collaboratively with a shared goal. This exciting project certainly made 2020 more palatable. It can be done.
At the start of 2021 we find ourselves tired yet excited and feeling highly positive about the year ahead. Across all sectors legacy excuses of old technology and slow change are no longer valid. We understand what can be achieved and have the tools and knowledge to do it. In 2021 there is no excuse for systems not talking to each other and data not being pulled together and utilised properly. We have 5G being rolled out which is a huge enabler for devices and data.
Are we running out of excuses for not providing excellent support and healthcare through leading technology? We believe that every TSA member has the privilege of making this happen.
Rotem Geslevich, Director of Business Development at Vayyar
While we’ve all been waiting to see the back of 2020, it’s now likely that COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come, putting increasing pressure on overstretched care services. Vulnerable groups are at greater risk during pandemic from the impact of lockdowns and especially loneliness with increasing levels of anxiety. What’s more, psychological hardship increases the chance of cognitive decline, stroke and hospitalisation from heart failure for example. We believe this will give care providers and local authorities the impetus to rise to the challenge of enhancing senior health outcomes with new approaches to remote monitoring for both community residents and pensioners living at home.
The most effective solutions will be both touchless eliminating the need for user action, and camera-free to ensure privacy. In addition to fall detection, they will also generate rich data that enables caregivers to monitor activity remotely, allowing them to deliver emergency assistance, provide timely interventions, and in a community context to limit potential staff exposure to COVID-19 by keeping room visits to a minimum.
In uncertain times, the vulnerable and elderly – and those who care for them – will need to embrace a wide range of technologies that can bridge the gaps in care delivery created by the pandemic. The solutions they select are likely to become part of the landscape for decades to come.
Neil Fitzwalter, Care Technology Manager at SECOM CareTech
This year can be summed up with one word: Coronavirus.
It’s had a profound effect on our lives, our industry and those we care for. And even though thousands of vaccines are being administered every day, next year looks to be just as fraught with problems because of this deadly disease.
During 2020, telecare providers were forced to move away from reactive models and look to more proactive approaches to protect service users. This is unlikely to change in 2021, and telecare providers are going to have to continue evolving alongside the pandemic to stay relevant.
2020 is going to have an enduring effect on the industry. The lessons we learn this year are going to have a big effect on the steps we take in the future, including the telecare devices we develop and the policies we adopt. Hopefully 2021 will be a time for reflection and give the industry the breathing space it needs. In that space, we will find how the industry is likely to grow and what we need to do as telecare providers to serve our customers better.