Telecare Soapbox: Value creation–wireless health companies at the fore

Paul Sonnier, founder of the Wireless Health group on LinkedIn and co-chair of the Healthcare Communications SIG at CommNexus San Diego, has thoughts on the new definition of ‘value creation’.

During the annual Wireless-Life Science Alliance’s (WLSA) annual Investor’s Meeting held in La Jolla, California last week, I had the good fortune to hear a keynote presentation by Terrance Gregg, CEO at San Diego-based DexCom, which produces wearable continuous glucose monitoring devices. Mr Gregg alluded to challenges the company has faced over the course of its history in terms of maintaining its independence while other, more established companies eyed its technology for acquisition.

After hearing this part of the DexCom story, it occurred to me that independence and durability are the eternal challenges faced by most successful technology companies and entrepreneurs… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: The Tina and Mick Test

Editor Steve Hards muses on matters of ageism in equipment and service design.

In another forum I recently gave some feedback to an internet-based service company that what they were producing, aimed at older people – both the images they were using and the words they were using – gave the impression to me that they were somewhat ageist. It got me thinking about the difficulty for companies of designing and marketing to people of an age that you, or your team members, are not.

We are all familiar with the concept that ‘old’ is a movable feast and that old age starts at about 15 years older than you are, so it’s 50 for 35 year olds, 75 for 50 year olds and 100 for 85 year olds. However, the differences between people at 50 and 100 may or may not be significant. There is an expectation that… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: NHS procurement – bad news and good news for suppliers

By Steve Hards, Editor, Telecare Aware.

Back in November, Telecare Aware dug around a little in the procurement practices of (mostly) local councils in the UK. (Dirty tactics in the telecare/telehealth market) The bad news for companies wanting to sell into the NHS is that there is emerging evidence that NHS organisations are not highly competent in commissioning innovative services and may also frequently flout good procurement practices. The good news is that this is increasingly being challenged and there may be new opportunities not just to challenge tenders, but for the NHS itself to seek redress from companies that misrepresent their capabilities and what they will provide. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Thousands of telecare users potentially at risk

Fred Reardon, an independent consultant writes about a life-threatening issue.

At the end of last week I received a letter from my broadband provider Sky [UK entertainment and communications services provider] to inform me of the new and improved network for Sky broadband and that they would be upgrading my service on the 2/2/2010 and that there would be a loss of service for a short time approx 25 minutes. I read through the letter to see what this would mean for me. At the very end of the letter the last paragraph was headed:

Social Alarm and Telecare service
If you have a remotely monitored social alarm service or Telecare services which uses your telephone line, you should contact us straight away. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Keeping the care going in adverse weather

Over the past four weeks people in the UK have been experiencing the worst snow and cold winter weather for 30 years and we have had one, now two, press releases from telecare monitoring services praising the dedication of staff in keeping the service monitored and clients safe.

While adversity (especially adverse weather) undoubtedly brings out the best British characteristics of determination and pitting yourself against the odds to keep going – especially where people in care-related jobs are concerned – one wonders what responsibility the managers of services have to put measures in place to ensure that staff are safe and, even, not unduly inconvenienced. For example, have they made arrangements with nearby hotels so that on duty staff can avoid hazardous trips home? Or have they arranged dispersed (home-based) monitoring?

If you have an example of an employer going that extra mile to support his or her staff in these difficult conditions, we’d like to hear it – leave a comment.

Telecare Soapbox: Credit Crunch and Telehealth

Andrew Hall, a Telehealth Entrepreneur in the UK, reflects on the potential effect of the financial crisis on the future of the market for remote patient monitoring telehealth.

Even when the cash flowed, investment in this technology has been startlingly low and ineffective. It is difficult to see how the new financial environment will improve that track record… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Eight reasons why current telemedicine videoconferencing technology isn’t good enough

Skip Rodenbush, Founder and CEO of Interactive Multimedia Artists expounds on why current telemedicine videoconferencing has such high barriers to adoption. See end of the article for information on the new system his company has developed.

The new healthcare delivery system depends heavily on the wide deployment of scalable and manageable telemedicine. Traditional telemedicine technologies do not meet these requirements. Instead they offer expensive, unmanageable and overall impractical solutions. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Are Partnership Agreements Stifling Innovation?

Paul Mitchell, an experienced consultant and troubleshooter in social care in the UK argues that partnership agreements between councils and telecare providers may be anti-competitive, anti-choice, and not in the best interests of service users.

Many social care authorities who have signed up to so-called exclusive ‘partnership’ agreements may now regret having their hands tied.

All is not lost however because unless those providers can live up to the implicit and explicit terms of those agreements I would urge the customers to review the validity of the agreements. First let’s look at some of the frequently recurring terms in such agreements and their implications. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Can the ‘old old’ have best lives when the pressure is to isolate them?

Donna Cusano is currently a healthcare services, wellness and supportive technologies marketing consultant based in New York City. Previously she was Vice President, Marketing, for Living Independently Group (QuietCare Systems). The following Soapbox item was triggered by the How the ‘Old Old’ can have best lives item.

So much of our emphasis in the technology area has been to keep seniors active that we tend to ignore planning for and helping seniors (and their families) to manage their last and usually inevitable years of increasing frailty, and the role that technology in the service of care can play. I don’t know of many cultures that support the ‘old old’ and those that have (Asian Indian, Chinese, Japanese) are increasingly not. Here is a moral, right opportunity for both healthcare and technology. I will make a similar case for the disabled and the support telecare/telehealth can be for them as well.

Unfortunately I think the trend towards treating the ‘old old’ – or even the just old – INhumanely is on the rise, despite… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Honeywell HomMed’s response to ‘Responsibility of the market leader’

Adam Wragg, European Managing Director of Honeywell HomMed responds to the previous Telecare Soapbox item: ‘Responsibility of the market leader‘ and throws down a challenge to us all.

I read with interest the anonymous comments of the writer who sent in the July 14th article to which this is a response.

Growing the overall market is not the sole responsibility of any commercial market leader; building a viable business is. By building a viable business the products and services that are offered become less expensive and more effective. However… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Responsibility of the market leader

Anonymous commentator applies some concepts from the technology adoption life cycle to consider progress – or not – in the UK’s telehealth market.

Being a market leader has one key responsibility: to grow the overall market. The market leader cannot make significant growth by focusing on taking business from its smaller competitors as there is not sufficient business to be gained. Market growth is achieved by promoting and proving the value to be had from innovative products and by the innovation of the applications, mainstream and niche, for which their products can be used.

So let’s look at what has happened in telehealth in the UK… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Britain’s Got Pendants

With this headline everyone – in the UK at least – will know what I was watching last week but it set me thinking: where did the English telecare initiative that started in 2004 go wrong? Why has it failed to deliver the stunning performance that seemed so certain after such a strong second round and getting through to the final?

Was the Telecare Policy Collaborative just a flash in the pan?

Did Building Telecare in England hit some wrong notes?

Was the Preventative Technology Grant a flawed act?

Has the PASA National Telecare Framework Agreement lost its glitter?

In short, why is it that

most of Britain is still suffering the same jaded routine (pendant alarm systems) as 10 years ago, albeit re-branded as ‘telecare’, when the Policy Collaborative was trying to boil up something fresh, daring, diverse and dynamic?

Can telecare, as originally envisaged, be rescued from the sidelined losers?

Put yourself in a judge’s seat and have your say in a comment.

Telecare Soapbox: Northern Ireland’s ‘unhappy first birthday’ approaches

We are now approaching a year since Northern Ireland’s Centre for Connected Health published its Prior Information Notice (PDF) for a large-scale, province-wide remote patient monitoring service.

It’s not a happy first birthday because, as far as anyone can tell, the procurement process is not likely to come to a satisfactory conclusion any time soon.

For us on the outside it is hard to tell whether this is due to the complicated nature of the task, or incompetence, or a mixture of both.

However, as a matter of opinion, it didn’t help that the tender invitation did not include information that the selection criteria would exclude ‘small’ suppliers with relevant experience, some of whom committed resources to prepare a bid for a process in which they later discovered they would not be allowed to participate… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: When is a healthcare company a healthcare company?

Steve Hards asks “What questions should telehealth commissioners be asking suppliers?”

Now that the laughter in the UK’s telecare/telehealth community over Tunstall’s name change in the UK to ‘Tunstall Healthcare’ has subsided into a rather nervous giggle, it’s an appropriate time to raise the question of what criteria does a company have to meet to be recognised as a healthcare company? (more…)

Telecare Aware’s Terminology Campaign

What’s the problem?

Multiple meanings of the words ‘telecare’, ‘telehealth’, ‘telemedicine’, etc. abound. Conversely, similar concepts have many names. As a consequence:

  • Professionals use their preferred terminology and confuse journalists
  • Journalists’ misconceptions spread public confusion
  • Speed of adoption of the technology is retarded
  • People suffer without appropriate monitoring systems
  • Suppliers have to work harder to thrive
  • The development of new technologies falters

What’s the solution and where will it come from?

I used to believe that the matter would evolve towards a solution. However, I now see it evolving towards greater confusion. We have reached a situation where a standard, internationally recognised taxonomy and set of definitions needs to be agreed and adopted.

However, it is no one’s responsibility to take on this task. The only organisation that has a broad base of worldwide technology suppliers and which has a remit to develop any international standards (albeit only in the health technology arena at the moment) is the Continua Alliance. It is in the Alliance’s members’ long term interest to tackle this problem.

What role will Telecare Aware play?

During 2008 Telecare Aware will post links to news items that illustrate the problems. I am happy to open up these pages to everyone who is interested in this issue and invite contributions by way of articles and comments. Although I have some views about how words should be applied in this field (see the What is Telecare page, for example) I am more concerned that an international consensus is formed than I am about promoting my particular usage.

Where shall we start?

Start with this excellent blog posting by Guy Dewsbury: The Language of Telecare. It begins: “I am not sure about you, but I think it is time to resurrect the debate about terminology. I have recently been to a number of conferences and at these events people use the words Telecare, Telehealth, Telemedicine and Assistive Technology…

Then move on to this article Telecare, telehealth and assistive technologies – do we know what we’re talking about? Doughty, K et al, published in the Journal of Assistive Technologies (Volume 1 Issue 2, December 2007) and made available to Telecare Aware readers by kind permission of Pavilion Journals (Brighton) Ltd.

Steve Hards