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Executive Summary

Click here to download an Executive Summary of the White Paper. 

 

Every hour of every day, telecare services directly support the independence and safety of

1.7 million vulnerable people in the UK. Those individuals who may have otherwise required a number of home care services or a place in a care home, can, with the help of the right technology enabled care (TEC), aim to maintain and regain their independence.

 

Over the next few years and possibly as soon as 2023, analogue telephone services in the UK will be

switched off and replaced by digital systems using internet protocol (IP) technology. It is evident that

the telecommunications industry has started its shift to ‘IP networks’ and will not wait for care services to fully prepare themselves.

 

Many services that employ analogue connectivity, including the vast majority of current telecare services, will need to be upgraded or decommissioned. Yet action is uncertain and too slow, and a large-scale upgrade programme has not yet begun. If the UK fails to act in a swift and coordinated

way, a great number of vulnerable people could lose the technology they rely on, and it is likely that other health and care services would be significantly impacted as a result.

 

THE NEED FOR A DIGITAL SWITCH PLAN

 

EMBRACING CHANGE

 

Moving from analogue to digital TEC should be about more than just replacing existing technology on a like-for-like basis. Whilst simple replacement is an option, a more fundamental redesign of the TEC offer has the potential to transform health and care services across the UK to the benefit of those people who rely on them.

 

Beyond enabling individuals to remain safe and secure, technology emerging now can offer so much more:

• Richer datasets can enable integrated care services, and the design of predictive services, with the aim of preventing problems before they escalate.
 

• Technology can potentially reable daily activities that many of us take for granted, helping individuals reintegrate into communities and remain productive members of society.
 

• In an age where isolation and loneliness are as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, digital technology can add years to life and life to years.

 

 

THE CHALLENGES

 

Immediate, concerted action is needed to avert a major disruption to telecare. Understanding the scale of the impact and defining a vision for future TEC services are vital first steps in creating a roadmap for digital transition. The roadmap needs to enable a rich mixture of technologies and services from multiple suppliers, all within an evolving telecommunications infrastructure,

where service providers need greater transparency from infrastructure providers and the regulator.

 

Diversity in technology and service models will need to be encouraged and managed, to exploit the

opportunities presented by the growth of consumer-chosen technologies. Collaboration and engagement across organisations and sectors will be critical to success in this context.

 

Safety and security in cyberspace will be paramount, and we, the TEC industry, need to manage this challenge as we seek to embrace innovation and positive disruption in a digital world.

 

The potential economic impact of a digital transition is significant. Intelligent deployment of technology enabled care could contribute to efficiencies in care delivery whilst improving the health, wellbeing and independence of vulnerable people.

 

Telecoms migration to digital networks has already started. The TEC community also needs to act now in responding to these changes.

 

We need to minimise the disruption to TEC services and hence any negative impact on NHS and

social care services. Investment will be required in the short term to deliver guidance, education and

transitional steps to digital technology enabled services, and we need a clear understanding of the costs and benefits as we pursue a more sustainable and productive future.

 

 

THE ACTIONS REQUIRED

 

1. An agreed roadmap for digital migration of TEC is required

The digital shift is inevitable. We, the TEC community, need a plan of action to minimise the disruption of current services and pursue digital inclusion for vulnerable citizens. A roadmap must be developed that can be agreed and worked to by all the key stakeholders, and is vital in ensuring that vulnerable users and carers are transitioned to new services ahead of any telecommunications deadlines.

 

2. Best practice and regulation will require amendment to enable exploitation of the technology

We, the technology enabled care community must ensure that emergent technologies and services can be trusted by users, carers and providers. We need to amend TEC regulations and standards to be both flexible and robust enough to ensure the reliability and safety of future care applications. In the short term, effective guidelines are needed, whilst TSA, the national body for TEC, works with standards development bodies to pursue the necessary updates to system and service standards.

 

3. We need to embrace new commercial models that are driven by changing consumer expectations and emerging technologies

It is evident that consumers will have an increasing say in the specifications and user

experience for new technologies and services. We need to consider how new choosers, recommenders and payers will impact the TEC marketplace, and how co-pay models can be made to work effectively.

 

4. An injection of resource and financial support will be needed for the initial transition from analogue TEC to digital

The TEC community needs to pursue funding options and create a ring-fenced procurement environment to manage the changeover. Capacity and capability will need to be supported to enable the work required to manage the change.

 

5Strong national leadership is required

The digital transition of TEC services will require focused contributions from multiple sectors. For these different parties to work effectively together, clear national leadership is required, starting with central government.

 

6. Collaboration and alignment are vital, driven by clear and accurate communication

The shift to digital for TEC will impact many stakeholders, from people who use services

and their carers to providers and commissioners. We, the TEC sector, need a clear and coordinated communication plan to ensure that threats are minimised and opportunities are exploited to the full.