This blogpost was co-authored by Hannah Gordon and Josepha Reynolds.
Technology Enabled Care (TEC) has long been touted as something that will revolutionise health and social care. The public sector is now placing increasing importance on it, with a number of national-level organisations dedicating specific resources and events to making use of it (King’s Fund webinars, NHS digital and the LGA Social Care Digital Improvement Programme are just a few examples). This is being replicated at a local authority level, with many councils making significant investments in digital transformation offers such as Alexa and Next Generation.
It is clear that TEC has the potential both to improve outcomes and reduce costs. However, we frequently find that it is underused and misunderstood by local authorities – mainly because it can help address much bigger questions around demand and trajectory management than you might expect. Our case reviews commonly show that technology is only used with a minority of service users, the impact of TEC is not monitored, and the technology utilised by the council remains limited or out of date.
Here’s a list of tips for getting the most out of TEC:
1. Behavioural change and culture change are crucial
It is easy to focus on the equipment itself. But this ignores the people who will unlock its potential – your staff. You can have the best technology in the world, but that doesn’t matter if people don’t know about it, don’t trust it or don’t understand it.
2. Be clear about the ‘how’
TEC is only going to be successful if staff see it as a default option in their conversations with people. To ensure this happens, working with staff to help them understand how technology will support people is absolutely crucial. We bring TEC to life by showing how it will help improve outcomes, for example through keeping people independent at home for longer or tackling social isolation. TEC is a solution, not an unnecessary add-on.
3. Keep outcomes for people at the heart of your programme
The most important person in health and social care is the person being supported. With the large number of options for providers and technology, it can be easy to get distracted about whether investing in a Paro is better than a Pepper . Instead, think about who is actually going to use the technology and how it is going to support them, and keep the focus on the outcomes you want people to achieve.
4. Know the area and monitor impact
Health and social care are wonderfully diverse sectors, with no two areas quite alike. All TEC projects need to be designed to work for an individual area, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. At IMPOWER, we make sure that we understand an area (your resources, challenges, champions and commitment) and then monitor the impact that TEC has on people, teams and your organisation.
5. Acknowledge problems, but focus on solutions
It can be easy to let obstacles stop people from using TEC to find creative solutions and encourage positive risk taking. We support authorities to challenge assumptions. For example – don’t assume that an older person can’t use something, don’t assume that all TEC means robots, and don’t assume that once a piece of TEC is introduced, it is there forever.
If you want to hear more about how IMPOWER can help you to use TEC to manage demand and improve outcomes, please get in touch.