Do you want to be the disruptor or the displaced? I posed this question at this year’s International Technology Enabled Care conference in Birmingham because, for me, it sums up the opportunity and the challenge facing UK TECS.
How does the sector respond to the shift from an analogue based telephony system to a digital one? In our White Paper, Connecting People, Improving Lives: A Digital Future for Technology Enabled Care, we argue that simply creating a digital copy of existing social alarm and telecare services will be a missed opportunity.
With Ofcom and BT both confirming that analogue will be switched off in 2025 the clock is now ticking. And with the safety of the 1.7 million people connected to alarm and monitoring services at stake, the impact of migrating from analogue to digital should be on the risk register of every organisation in the sector.
The White Paper sets out the steps TSA will be taking and the actions key stakeholders need to take to ensure a smooth migration. But we also say that the switch should be the trigger for looking at new predictive and proactive service models using the added functionality, data and computer power that digital can harness.
When TV went from analogue to digital significant resources were invested to make the switch as smooth as possible so that no one missed out on Coronation Street or Strictly! With the welfare of vulnerable people at stake there should be an even greater sense of urgency from every stakeholder.
At the end of the conference, I shared some of the headline results of a survey that TSA and PA Consulting undertook over the two days to gauge how decision-makers in social care, health and TECS viewed the business case for care technology. What we found was a gap between the level of confidence within the private sector and a more sceptical public sector. Unsurprisingly, this also fed into the level of support for investment.
For me this underlined the biggest challenge: how do we move from small-scale deployment to widespread adoption of TECS? There is already enough known from research and real world delivery to support evidence-based decisions to invest in TECS, so what else is needed?
The absence in government – broadly defined – of a clear champion for TECS has dogged the sector’s efforts to engage with the NHS and local authorities.
Despite this, TSA’s work on analogue to digital is already having an impact with policymakers and our dialogue with Ofcom, telecom infrastructure providers, CQC, governments and industry leaders will continue.
But for TSA to make the business case for TECs we need senior level buy in, financial support and commitment to a common purpose and a common message. We need a sector interested in making a market, not just a sale. We need the industry to step up.