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A look in the TSA rear view mirror

Alyson Scurfield, TSA CEO

So much as happened this past year, not just at the TSA but across the whole TEC sector. 

Matt Hancock took over as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, vowing to make a digital transformation in healthcare and have a ‘bonfire of the fax machine’. Mr Hancock, an avid fan of technology has made several speeches and announcements since his arrival at the department in June. Most notably was his recent launch of a vision for a digital healthcare system and his speech to the IANPHI on prevention.

There has however been a constant delay in the publication of the much anticipated social care Green Paper, originally scheduled for the summer of 2018, then the autumn and now ‘early next year’.  This and the fact that no significant funding has been awarded to under-resourced social care services leaves providers and millions of vulnerable citizens in the lurch.

At TSA we started the year with a transformation of our organisation. Separating our quality arm to form an agnostic and independent limited company, TEC Quality.

This action instigated a targeted approach to developing the TEC sector through outcome based quality standards. A move that was supported by care minister Caroline Dinenedge who wrote to telecare monitoring centres in January emphasising the need for quality standards.

Our White Paper and Digital Shift campaign, launched the previous autumn, continued to gain traction across the healthcare sector in the new year of 2018, being cited as a key resource for commissioners. Further updates on this were made available in March and August.

February saw the first of the year’s TEC events with our attendance at Digital Health and Care Scotland and the first of the year’s regional Connect and Innovation Showcase events

Early spring arrived along with our new marketing manager, Andy. March also hosted our Scotland regional Connect and Innovation Showcase and the BSIA London seminar.

Spring forward

In April we relaunched our monthly member’s newsletter eLink, which had been bi-monthly up to this point. We held our TSA supplier Connect and Innovation Showcase in Leicestershire and the North East Region, Innovation Showcase in association with North East ADASS – the first of a series of ADASS partnerships that ultimately resulted in the production of TEC Stories (more of this later).

By May we had a host of new TSA member case studies written and published, playing catch-up from 2017 due to resource challenges.

Our TSA Connect Innovation Showcase in London, where we launched our TEC Quality Standards for Fire Prevention, rounded off the month.

What a scorcher

Who can forget that amazing summer – temperatures in our Wilmslow office hit the mid-30s in June, Tesco Local ran out of our favourite lollies and the office team were in shorts for three months.

We launched our corporate plan for 2018 – 2020 and visited the Harnessing Digital Health and Care conference in Birmingham, The Royal College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference, London and The NAEP 2018 Annual Conference in Warwickshire.

The TSA Summer Forum at the Health+Care show rounded off a busy and sweltering mid-summer schedule. 

In July we agreed a MoU with YPO and adam for the creation of a dynamic purchasing system for care technology and our president Paul Burstow was keynote speaker at The King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress.

The Rt Hon Mr Burstow also featured in an article in Health Europa and I had a fabulous chat with the editor of ELDER.

Late summer saw the launch of our new TEC Quality website, and formation of our TEC Quality Technology Advisory Group and Service Advisory Group. We ran a South West Region Innovation Showcase in association with South West ADASS.

The autumn

October was crazy. Our ITEC Conference and ITEC Awards were amazing. With over 800 delegates, a packed exhibition space and a great line up of speakers we had the biggest conference in TSA history. Feedback was overwarming, with many people praising the quality of the presentations in the plenary and breakout sessions.

Our partnership with ADASS and TLAP resulted in the launch of our TEC Stories campaign in November, at the TSA stand at the NCASC conference.

The YPO Care Technology DPS was launched after a period of soft market testing with suppliers and commissioners at our ITEC Conference and the Care Show.

I presented on TEC to a packed audience at the Care England conference in mid-November.

So that just leaves December.

We’re only two weeks in to a short month and we’ve already got good news to broadcast.

We’ve been recommended for UKAS Accreditation for the Quality Standards Framework – a massive accolade that reinforces the independence of the scheme and its relevance to a changing and dynamic industry.

On other TEC Quality news we’ve appointed a new chair, David Pearson CBE, who has already started making his presence felt across the organisation with a clear strategy for QSF development in 2019 and beyond.

We are now busy planning next year’s events including the ITEC Conference 2019 which will be at the ICC again, on October 15th and 16th.

Across the industry

TEC industry leaders and innovators are making huge steps towards full digital telecare systems and are doing a great job in moving the whole industry forward as we draw closer to IP ‘D-day’ in 2025 when all UK telephone systems will switch from voice to data.

We’ve seen some interesting trends in TEC in 2018. One key development has to be the emergence of more consumer technology across care provision. We’ve seen new apps gaining traction such as Brain In Hand’s excellent system to help manage mental health, and a successful trial of Amazon Echo smart speakers in Hampshire by the Argenti Partnership.

As more people want to use their own devices and take greater control over their care technology package we’ll need a transformation in how service providers procure and distribute technology. There will need to be greater flexibility to enable care to be better personalised.

As the industry body, TSA will be following this trend with close interest as we will need to ensure that any new technology is used wisely and supported by appropriate back-up systems through integration in to tested and approved TEC architecture to ensure people are not put at risk for the sake of having the latest gadget.

We will have to wait and see the reality of Matt Hancock’s vision for a digital healthcare system. This transformation will need more than just words. And more than just funding. With the predicted shortfall in jobs vacancies across the sector numbering hundreds of thousands and a proposed technology revolution that risks opening up huge skills gaps in the existing workforce the journey to digital utopia could be a bit rocky.

The debate on how social care will be funded will continue to rage in 2019, and beyond. Many people are speaking of the introduction of a tax levy to fund our future care, hopefully things will become clear in the Green Paper next year. One thing is for sure, the TSA will continue to campaign that good care is provided to those who need it irrespective of their ability to pay or where they live. Good care cannot be a postcode lottery or something for the rich.

So let’s hope 2019 brings clear strategy on long term funding for the social care system, answering all those unanswered questions and enabling us all to move forward together. 

Wishing everyone a great end to 2018 and a buoyant 2019.

Partners & Associates