Why it pays to invest in assistive technology

Gavin Bashar, UK managing director of Tunstall Healthcare, discusses why we must take advantage of the new opportunities around assistive technology highlighted during the COVID crisis

Assistive technology has proved vital in helping to keep people connected and safe during the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a huge increase of attention and focus on the capabilities and benefits technology-enabled care (TEC) offers to both address and support current and future health and care challenges.

Service providers are also beginning to recognise that telecare and telehealth can offer significant benefits through wider and more-effective deployment, as well as more-advanced pro-active approaches.

The ability of technology to provide 24-hour support and an emergency response if required is crucial, and the global health crisis has led to its capability to assist in a personalised approach being more widely understood.

Indeed, many service providers have invested in TEC to move towards a more person-centred and remote style of care delivery as a result of COVID-19.

The socio-economic benefits

When deployed effectively, TEC has a significant number of socio-economic benefits.

It can be used by service providers to support vulnerable people to stay independently in their own home for longer, reduce the need for more-complex care and interventions, and improve service user satisfaction and the wellbeing of users and their families.

Service providers are beginning to recognise that telecare and telehealth can offer significant benefits through wider and more-effective deployment

During the pandemic, remote health monitoring through technology-enabled care has given carers and industry leaders the opportunity to successfully continue providing high-quality care, while simultaneously working to prevent the spread of the virus and limiting the number of deaths.

When health and social care systems are integrated, and TEC is embedded into our services, it is possible to look at data from multiple sources and adapt care delivery over time.

Intelligent systems can provide both predictive and preventative measures when assessing risks and mitigating circumstances, to improve and sustain desirable health outcomes.

And, as more health and social care leaders understand the socio-economic benefits and invest in TEC, intelligent health and social care solutions can be increasingly delivered to empower individuals, families and carers, and ensure people have the right level of care and support to live safely and independently.

TEC in practice

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has adopted assistive technology to support young people with eating disorders during the COVID-19 crisis.

The trust provides both physical and mental health services to children and adults and uses Tunstall Healthcare technology to co-ordinate its digital health service and offer treatment and support to children over the age of 11 with a range of eating disorders.

As more health and social care leaders understand the socio-economic benefits and invest in TEC, intelligent health and social care solutions can be increasingly delivered to empower individuals, families and carers, and ensure people have the right level of care and support

Remote health monitoring software was introduced to enable clinicians to support patients in their own home throughout the pandemic, with patients using the myMobile app and ICP ‘triagemanager’ software to take weekly readings of their vital signs including blood pressure, temperature and weight, alongside answering a range of symptom-related questions.

Although still in its infancy, the 32 existing caseload patients deemed to be at high risk have already been referred, and feedback from the clinicians involved has been extremely positive.

And, while the outcomes are currently still being measured, it’s expected that hospital admissions will be reduced, early intervention will increase, self-management will improve, and patients will benefit from better health and wellbeing.

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