Our analysis is that the telecare market will be in considerable flux over the next five years due to:
- Digital switchover.
- Market consolidation of monitoring centres.
- Uncertainty regarding which of the digital telecare suppliers will be able to achieve scale.
- How quickly the telecare market will achieve open interoperability with health and social care data.
- The potential for gaining significant insights from the available data.
- The consumer technology and ‘smart home’ market is rapidly crossing over into the care technology sector.
These are some of the conclusions of the recent Care Technology Landscape Review report commissioned by Essex County Council and produced by SOCITM Advisory. The report doesn’t pull any punches and goes on to note about the current market environment:
- The uptake of telecare has been static over the last 10 years at 1.7 million users nationally.
- Community alarms are still predominantly based on analogue, reactive services.
- Many telecare services have evolved from housing community alarm services and may have seen little or no service development during the past 10-15 years.
- The sector has tended to focus on the technology instead of the best outcomes for end-users.
- There hasn’t been enough attention paid to ‘design and delight’ in the way the solutions function.
- Equipment manufacturers, operating in a B2B context, have been slow to change and adapt to emerging telecare requirements.
- Care providers and commissioners should avoid any further investments in legacy telecare.
- A key hurdle is often the wider system and its data-access limitations, rather than the technology itself.
Last year’s briefing paper for the housing sector, “Future Assisted Living Technology” produced by HACT and supported by Anchor, Curo, Hanover and Riverside Housing, made it clear that the future use of data was essential.
The briefing paper stated, “For some residents, the quality and effectiveness of the support and care offered could be considerably improved through the use of data. Sensor data, for example, can be analysed to look for deviations from normal behavioural patterns, which would then generate an alert for family, support worker or health worker.” The paper also noted that treating data as an asset also provides evidence of outcomes for third parties and insights for improved service design.
The aforementioned SOCITM report also noted that consumer choice and ‘co-pay’ factors are shaping the telecare market, with more widespread consumer access to emerging technologies creating new expectations for services and a willingness to pay. It also proposes some helpful goals for care providers and commissioners:
- Care technology is recognised as an enabler for promoting independence, especially at the start of a person’s care journey, giving reassurance to families and carers.
- Care technology is helping to defer the need for or avoid more intensive forms of care.
- Use lifestyle monitoring to support informed decision making; ‘just enough’ support instead of ‘just in case’ support.
- Offer care technology as an alternative or complement to other forms of care, including reablement, medication checks and well-being calls.
Adrian Scaife is the business development manager at Alcuris.