Changing the face of social care.



February 2, 2018 8:52 am

Steve Purdham, Chairman of 3rings , and current winner of the TSA Driving Digital Challenge explains how ‘Going digital’ has the means to change the face of social care to increase outcomes, quality and safety.

As an industry, we stand at the threshold of a brave new world that can change the face of social care.

‘Going digital’ is NOT just  about moving from analog to digital lines as this will change nothing. It is understandable that this is important because it is an immediate and pending problem with existing analogue Telecare technology but it doesn’t even touch the potential that ‘digital’ really offers.

‘Digital’ is about the new building blocks and services that can create a ‘safety net’ of care that increases outcomes and care quality and does so in a way that keeps our most vulnerable citizens safe.

Words such as Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Personal Assistants and others are thrown about as the answer to all our care needs. But this is just ‘geek’ speak that deflect from the real power.

The real power for change comes from ‘Data’ or more correctly from understanding what the data means.

We are being surrounded by all types of hardware/sensors that will generate data about every aspect of our lives.  50 billion IoT devices will be in the market by 2020 and individually we can expect to be monitored by up to three thousand ‘things’ daily. These things will come in all shapes and sizes from add-on sensors to kettles to clothing.

But this hardware will change constantly and so when building your future care systems the more agnostic to hardware you can be the more flexible and ‘future’ proofed your solution will be.

These ‘Things’ provide data but it’s how you look and use the data that will change social care.

The true value is the patterns the data create, from those patterns it will be possible for systems, such as 3rings, to indicate if this person is OK at the moment or may need help.

By understanding the patterns then ‘big leaps’ in care is possible, having real time cognitive and physical information to support care decisions.

Analysing the patterns will produce Trends which will help care plans become more meaningful and patient centric. The ability to answer questions such as does this person need a Night/Sleep worker, is the increase in activity in the toilet indicating possible UTI’s all will become obvious.

These trends can produce ‘feedback’ loops or ‘nudging ‘ systems, for example if a person is inactive it will be possible to automatically call them and suggest an action, such as go and have a cup of tea.

Beyond trend analysis then the next ‘simple’ step is Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). ML will mine the data looking for patterns that are not always obvious either due to the sheer volume of data or indeed patterns that evolve over time.

ML will be able to look at the data from an individual as well the ‘crowd’ and build potential reactive systems that can predict or suggest outcomes that can be beneficial to individual’s health.

All this is capable of being delivered today but it doesn’t end there with the pending wave of Social robotics (such as Jibo) the ability to create relevant conversation and suggestions that not only can stave off loneliness but also react to the data trends.

So ‘going digital’ is not only about bits of plastic and wires or how the signals get transmitted its about how the data patterns that can be used for increased and better outcomes, better quality care and increased safety for all.