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Why Isn't Our TEC Industry Booming?

New digital solutions will enable both preventative activities, a means of sharing data and provide services that will appeal to consumers,

by Adrian Scaife, Alcuris Ltd.

 

On first glance the numbers of people using our services should be growing year on year along with the success of our industry.

  • Our potential customer base has never been larger - it is growing every year and our customers are living longer.
  • Our service Commissioners, particularly Social Care, are under huge pressure to provide more for less. There is an urgent need to find new solutions to manage and delay demand for health and social care.
  • The growth in Care Home capacity has been severely constrained by Local Authority funding and more older people with higher levels of need are now living at home.
  • More consumers are searching out their own solutions and technology is recognised as playing an important role in helping people remain independent at home.

And yet despite all this I read in the recent Care Technology Landscape Review

“…. uptake of telecare has been static over the last 10 years at 1.7m users nationally. Community alarms still predominate based on an analogue, reactive service provided to people’s dwellings”

The industry-wide perspective is of one of no growth and having reached a plateau despite a few examples of high-profile analogue services.

So why might this be happening? The report goes on to provide some pertinent observations:

  • The sector…has tended to focus on the technology rather than desired outcomes for the end user.
  • There has not been enough attention paid to design and delight in the way the solutions look

and function. This is a serious shortcoming in today’s world where design is so important.

  • Equipment manufacturers, operating in a business-to-business context, have been slow to

change and adapt to emerging requirements.

So, what might the future look like?

There are lots of clues to new market requirements and a new direction for our industry (including in the comments above) not least from speaking to users, carers, providers and commissioners.

The original Building Telecare in England report, of nearly 20 years ago, talked about initiating a change in the delivery and design of prevention strategies to enhance and maintain the wellbeing and independence of individuals. It describes how preventative services can provide early warning of deterioration prompting a response from family or professionals.

Further reports from a variety of sources have talked about preventive approaches, self-care and upstream or early interventions and improved data sharing and connectivity across organisations, with user consent.  

A continuing theme has been the lack of a consumer market but given the above comments on lack of outcome focus and design it is perhaps not surprising consumers are currently voting with their feet!

Models of care are shifting. In a recent survey of Directors of Adult Social Services, 82% view the development of asset-based/self-help approaches as the most important approach to delivering savings, followed by prevention/early intervention (74%).

So, what next?

The good news is that new digital solutions with digital connectivity enable both preventative activities, a means of sharing data and provide services that will appeal to consumers. They can deliver meaningful information into the hands of family, so moving to more of an assets-based model of support. Of course, for those without family existing monitoring centres are well placed to pick up this new role.

In conclusion, the future lies in new generation of telecare that builds on existing services. One that delivers proactive, preventative, consumer friendly services with positive reassurance that builds on strengths (of individuals and communities) and that utilises interoperable devices and data to provide insight, acting as an enabler for wider transformation across health and social care.

I, for one, would like to see our industry find its way back to supporting increasing numbers of people live independently at home for as long as possible. As pressure continues to increase there is a growing appetite for change.

As Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Adrian Scaife is Business Development Manager at Alcuris Ltd (memohub.co.uk) and has more than 20 years experience in the #TECS industry. Alcuris will be at #ITEC20019 stand 13, to discover more.



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