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Digital has the power to transform healthcare and outcomes

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Zillah Moore, Director at Tunstall Healthcare, talks exclusively about Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) and how they supported health and care services during the pandemic, and the importance of continued integration to safeguard our services for the future.

Digital health has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people, and make a significant contribution towards the ultimate goal of preventative healthcare.

During the pandemic, digital health and care solutions have been deployed at a pace never seen before which has enabled health and care providers to monitor the health of vulnerable people with both chronic conditions and those recovering from COVID, and deliver ongoing effective care remotely to reduce the risk of infection.

This has also provided opportunities for families and communities to become more involved in offering support, and enabled care to become more person-centred and preventative.

Supporting the NHS

COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on health and social care providers, and the challenges they face on a daily basis, including delayed transfer of care, and increasing numbers of hospital admissions. We must also bear in mind that these challenges were pressuring our services before COVID, and they’ve only been exacerbated further by the pandemic.

TECS have supported the NHS and other service providers during COVID in helping to release hospital bottlenecks and remove obstacles to timely hospital discharge. Digital solutions have been deployed at home, which provide reassurance to patients and their loved ones that risks can be reduced, and clinical monitoring and recovery management has become more effective outside of a hospital setting.

Digital health solutions such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) which have been deployed at pace during the pandemic, encourage users and/or their carers to actively monitor their health and provide numerous opportunities for clinicians to stabilise vulnerable people. Likewise, remote monitoring of vital signs and symptoms can give an early indication of deteriorating health, and clinicians can view data via an online portal to identify patients most in need of intervention.

Safeguarding our services

TECS provide a robust platform for future health and care delivery. Digital solutions connect people to clinicians and their communities to enable more proactive and preventative care, and ensure a resilient network is in place should we ever face such a crisis again.

Digital solutions can be tailored to the specific needs of vulnerable individuals within various cohorts, helping to automatically monitor risks, such as falls or fires, and giving users the ability to call for help in case of an emergency, 24 hours a day, from a range of stakeholders.

Progress in technology will benefit a huge number of people and support more effective care delivery, improved hospital discharge times, reduced bed blocking, and more efficient ambulance services. As we live longer, demands on public services will increase and investment in TECS is crucial to ensure the NHS and social care providers can continue to deliver effective care, even if we face another global health crisis.

The next stage of TECS

The Government’s recently published white paper; ‘working together to improve health and social care for all’, sets out legislative proposals to build on the collaborations generated during the pandemic, and shape a system that’s better able to serve people in a fast-changing world.

These plans to deliver a new model of care which is centralised and standardised, and improves population health outcomes, requires a base level of digital functionality if it is to succeed. We must also exploit the accelerating development of new technology to enable new models of care, personalisation, and support.

We’re also beginning to see the next generation of predictive care technology, and over the next few years it’ll encompass integration that enables diverse and scalable models of health and social care. Using AI and taking data-driven insight from multiple sources, providers will use this next generation of solutions to optimise Population Health Management programmes by providing personalised and anticipatory care.

Although there’s still a long way to go, this is a trend which will continue and greater investment will lead to technology and data featuring more prominently in how our services are designed. This will empower people to manage their own health, reduce the strain on our services, and safeguard them for the future.

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