Tunstall Healthcare: Technology and the future of health, housing and social care
Even before the pandemic, health, housing and social care were under extreme pressure: wrestling with dealing with day-to-day service delivery alongside trying to plan for the future and anticipated increases in demand.
Yet despite the challenges of the last eighteen months, there have also been gains made that could shape the future of care delivery for the better, and technology, of course, has a key role to play.
Tunstall was founded on the premise that technology could help to support vulnerable people, keeping them safe and independent, and that remains at the core of our philosophy, more than sixty years later.
Over time, Technology Enabled Care Solutions (TECS) have become more sophisticated as technology has advanced. Whilst there still remains a need for people to be able to press a button to summon help in an emergency, whether living in their own homes, or in group living environments, we now have the ability to provide more intuitive and preventative interventions. For example, fall detectors and bed occupancy sensors can automatically raise an alert if they sense someone may have fallen. We can use discreet sensors around the home which monitor activity, such as how often the bathroom or kitchen are being used, giving a baseline for care planning, and early warning of any potential deterioration in wellbeing. The next step in the evolution of TECS will build upon preventative care to become predictive, using data-driven insights from multiple sources to detect whether someone’s health could be about to deteriorate, spot a potentially undiagnosed condition, or to help resolve an immediate social care need. This will enable the delivery of high-quality, personalised care programmes and effectively allocate resources, making sure those in need have the right levels of support and reassurance.
Delivering care remotely has been essential during the pandemic, helping to support people who have been shielding and providing vital support and interaction. Alongside telecare, telehealth (remote patient monitoring) has enabled people with long term conditions to receive ongoing support at home, and in the case of care homes, has enabled residents’ health to be monitored whilst reducing the need for face to face contact, thus reducing the risk of cross infection. The system identifies any cause for concern at an early stage, enabling early intervention. This can help to avoid the need for more complex care, and enabling clinicians to effectively prioritise patients’ care, as the system clearly identifies those most in need.
Amidst the difficulties of the last few months, there have also been significant achievements. Technology that previously might have taken months to deploy has become active within weeks. Barriers between stakeholders have been overcome. Bureaucracy has been pushed aside.
We have seen a much greater recognition of the benefits of technology in our health and social care system, and a willingness to try new approaches. This not only addresses some of the issues presented by the current pandemic, but also helps to make our services more resilient, preventive and person-centred in the longer term. I believe this is a trend that will continue, and that technology and data will feature much more prominently in the way we design services in coming years, creating a foundation for a better future.
About this author:
Zillah Moore, UK & Ireland Marketing Director
Zillah has spent almost 25 years working in the healthcare industry. Her extensive experience includes the medical devices, pharmaceutical and diagnostic services sectors, and she has successfully launched products and solutions in the oncology, neurology and cardiology segments. She has held a number of sales and marketing leadership roles, including senior positions at BTG and GE Healthcare, and was Northern European Sales Director for Boston Scientific Interventional Oncology division. Zillah joined Tunstall Healthcare in January 2020, where she will bring her passion for fostering partnerships with customers to improve health and social care delivery to her role as Marketing Director. Zillah has a BSc in Biology from University of Durham. Read more about this author here.
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