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How Technology and Data are Transforming Care

Friday 2 February 2018

Jane Dalton's picture
By Jane Dalton
As pressure to maintain high standards of care continues in the face of unprecedented budget cuts to social care, it often feels like there’s little scope for providers to consider their technology strategy. But, embracing new tech could be the answer to some of their biggest challenges.
 
With many in the industry still lacking basic workplace technology, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what technology can help carers achieve. From easier interaction with those dependant on care, to more efficient care delivery in the field, there’s a world of opportunities that many have yet to explore.
 
At the ground level, adoption is slow. But, every day brings amazing new technological opportunities that are transforming the way care is delivered, helping care organisations cut costs, and ultimately, improving the lives of those dependant on care.
 

Keeping up with change

The pace of technological change in care is blistering and often difficult to stay abreast of. Current and future developments however offer exciting solutions to problems that have been around for a long time, enabling providers to offer exceptional service: 
 
  • Modern communications systems – the days of hard-wired pull chords linked to someone’s phone are gone. Today, smart devices improve how those in care get the help they need.
  • Big data – unifying data sources into common platforms and single points of access enables organisations to streamline their business and focus on delivering the best possible service. 
  • AI – monitoring patient’s activities and movements in a non-intrusive manner can help to pre-empt issues and crises before they happen. 
  • Autonomous vehicles – removing the level of responsibility required to operate a regular vehicle, opening exciting possibilities for patients with disabilities preventing them from driving.

While more advanced developments such as AI and autonomous vehicles are still in their infancy, the opportunities that technology brings to innovate are boundless. Being able to handle constantly developing technology is a challenge, and without the right processes and leadership in place, makes competing effectively very difficult.

Technology improves accountability and protects the vulnerable

One of the biggest barriers keeping care organisations from adopting this technology is culture. We’re used to seeing the industry in a very “human” way. Care traditionally has been about providing a helping human hand, face-to-face contact and deeply personal support.
 
Embracing new tech in care doesn’t have to mean moving away from that. The right technology complements the unique human touch that only carers can provide.
 
Replacing a human walking through a client’s door with a piece of technology is counter-cultural, but given the opportunity in a care home setting, the results can be extremely positive. This was particularly apparent when I visited a care home where every resident now has an iPad containing all their records.
 
As it was a particularly hot day, the staff were worried about hydration. Watching a care worker support a lady with dementia as she drank a glass of water was particularly interesting. After drinking, the care worker simply slid her finger on a picture of a cup to fill it with the exact amount in millimetres she had drunk – so the community nurse in the evening could see exactly what the patient had drunk and would know exactly where to pick up.
 
This is a prime example of where a piece of technology has removed a time-consuming piece of admin, meaning care staff can spend more time with the people they’re looking after. On the surface the new experience seems less human, but what it really means is much more time for face-to-face direct care delivery.
 

Sticking plasters and making do are not an effective strategy 

Let’s not forget, social care is a business and needs to make money – as such, you need to stay ahead of the competition. But this won’t bring returns today or tomorrow – it’s a long-term strategy, which can take years to deliver.
 
Getting out of a ‘making do’ mentality is important for progressing an effective technology strategy. Many care providers are asking: “do I invest in technology, or deliver services?” 
You shouldn’t have to make this choice.
 
Technology needs to be adopted with a business-centric mentality. Don’t get sucked into trying to deliver services on a limited budget, rather take a step back and ask: “how can we do things better with what we already have.” 
 
Next time, I'll investigate the organisational structure that needs to be in place for a successful technology strategy with the care sector. And why technology on its own won’t solve a thing. 
 

Our latest e-book "Embracing The Digital Future of Care"  explores how the care industry can maximise the opportunities in technology and new digital services to deliver value.

Download our Free E-book now

 

The care sector has been slow to adopt technology. We look at how tech is helping care providers change the way they work, and overcome some of their biggest challenges.

How Technology and Data are Transforming Care

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