Seven disruptive thoughts about Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS)

Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) can save health and social care providers ‘shed loads’ of money and give peace of mind to users and their families.

TECS involve using tech to deliver care to people in their homes, so that they can monitor their own health and look after themselves better – particularly important for those with long term conditions. Not only do TECS promote independence but they also allow people to stay at home longer.

But the world has moved on. TECS of the 1980s are still being provided by companies who want to sell you more of the same. Innovation blossoms, yet the TECS are not developing at the same rate. From dial-up to digital. From pendants to prediction. From alarm units to artificial intelligence. From red buttons to robots. The consumer ehealth marketplace is advancing far faster than TECS but consumer power is often overlooked as a solution to our health care burning platform. When companies spend millions promoting technology to the ‘worried well’, how do we shift the debate to activating our citizens - and creating a million pound games app for health?

I believe consumer demand will drive the TECS revolution and this is the subject of a paper I’ve submitted as part of the Innovation Agency’s role in ENSAFE - Elderly-oriented, Network-based Services Aimed at independent liFE, available here.

Below are seven disruptive ideas explored in the paper:

  1. What’s in a name? If we are trying to about-face our citizens from the front door of the NHS and activate/empower them through what we call ‘Technology Enabled Care or TEC’, should it be called ‘Technology Assisted Independent Living’?
  2. Implementation of TEC isn’t linear: The evidence tells us that choosing the wrong model of ‘technology adoption’ could derail your implementation. While they can assist you to think about planning out failure, instead focus on what the key ingredients are: a) Stakeholder engagement b) Credible leadership c) Resources d) Plan for politics e) Map conflicting priorities f) Separate a steering group from an operational group and g) Ensure you have baseline data
  3. Don’t separate Implementation from Evaluation. If you don’t explore what data you need to collect for the evaluation beforehand, and feed your evaluation results back to the stakeholders you will fail.
  4. Should STP stand for Self-Care Technology Plan? Self-care is mentioned in sustainability and transformation strategies many times but services are considering how they deploy self-care and preventative technologies
  5. The consumer ehealth marketplace (£277 million 2008)is already larger than the TEC marketplace (£177 Million 2008) and they are already using peer-to-peer online support, self -care apps, decision aids, the personal health record and the internet. So why not embrace and support these activated people?
  6. The right to make unwise decisions. The iPod Nano has up to eight steps to play a song. The display is small, the control fiddly so I wouldn’t prescribe it! Yet over 50 million people a year bought them (I still have one in my drawer). People don’t always want what we think they should use. Is it more important they are health activated?
  7. The revolution won’t be televised it will be tweeted. Our digital natives can operate their thumbs faster than they can type and self-serve in supermarkets, book holidays and bank online. Yet this whole generation can’t interact with services. Why not?

Richard Harding


Posted by: Richard Harding, on: 09 October 2017