One more Prior Information Notice–and Yes, Prime Minister, some Advice (UK)

Our Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman of BRE, is proferring one more Prior Information Notice (PIN) via TED.Europa.eu. This is for the Suffolk County Council for the management of domiciliary care for the County from Autumn 2019. In the context of providing care, ‘maximising technology’ is mentioned. From TED: “We are looking to engage with providers to help us shape what future services, contract models/processes might look like in the future. If you are interested in being involved in this market engagement process, please contact ACSHomeCareandHousingSPARTeam@suffolk.gov.uk who will provide further details about future events.”

Susanne has also pointed Readers to the Gov.UK ‘Correspondence’ page. The Council for Science and Technology (CST) makes four recommendations to Prime Minister Theresa May on how technology could help address the specific challenges affecting social care and support. The page includes links to the CST letter of recommendations and the PM’s response. 

Can technology meet increasing demand for social care? (N. Somerset UK)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Could-you-care.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]North Somerset Council (west of Bristol in UK’s mid-southwest) provides care for more than 2,800 people. Their budget for adult social care this year is £65.3million. Yet even with this large budget, the trend is not its friend, according to Hayley Verrico, the council’s assistant director of adult support and safeguarding. In addition to the demand created by more older people and the ‘old-old’ growing frailer, there are special needs children who enter adult social care. The priority is to enable them to stay at home. Will this increased demand be met by technology? Ms. Verrico believes so, giving examples such as telecare and assistive technology for PERS, automatic tap (water) shutoffs, and door/wander sensors. The paradox is that carers also need to be trained in the meaningful monitoring and support management part of home care, transitional care, and encouraging that person to be more independent in activity, versus the traditional hands-on part of direct care.

This story is a chirping canary in the mine in UK, EU and the US. The last situation is in a way worse. Not only are we in the US not set up for community-wide maintaining of adults at home, but also most direct care workers are paid in the bottom quarter of US hourly wages with few perceived opportunities for advancement. Beyond monitoring, how do we handle the next meaningful step–telehealth and RPM?  North Somerset Times

Ericsson report: will 5G close the healthcare gap from hospitals into the home?

Ericsson, one of Europe’s leading telecom companies, earlier this month published its latest ConsumerLab report, “From Healthcare to Homecare” on the next generation of healthcare enabled by the greater speed and security of 5G–the fifth generation of wireless mobile. Their key findings among consumers and industry decision makers contained surprises:

  • Growing frustration with hospital wait times. 39 percent prefer an online consult with a doctor versus waiting for the face-to-face.
  • Wearables are perceived as better ways to monitor and even administer medication for chronic conditions–nearly two in three consumers want them. But medical grade wearables will be required.
    • Yet the current state doesn’t lend itself to these wishes. “55 percent of healthcare decision makers from regulatory bodies say these devices are not sufficiently accurate or reliable for diagnosis. In addition, for liability reasons it will be very difficult to rely on patients’ smartphones for connectivity….medical-grade wearables will be required. Such devices could also automatically dispense medicine and offer convenience to those recovering from surgery.”
  • +/- 60 percent of surveyed consumers believe that wearables will improve lifestyles, provide personalized care, and put people in control of their own health.
  • There’s real security concerns that 5G is expected to access: “61 percent of consumers say remote robotic surgery is risky as it relies on the internet….47 percent of telecom decision makers say that secure access to an online central repository [of medical records] is a key challenge and expect 5G to address this.” Surprisingly, only 46 percent of cross-industry decision makers consider data security to be an issue. Battery power is also a significant concern for over half in wearables, a problem that over 40 percent will be helped by 5G.
  • Even more surprising is the lack of desire for consumer access to their medical records–only 35 percent of consumers believe that it will help them easily manage the quality and efficiency of their care. In contrast, 45 percent of cross-industry experts consider the central repository as a breakthrough in healthcare provisioning.

Decentralizing care into the home is seen as worthwhile by a majority of industry decision makers 

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/healthcare-to-homecare-fig3_rgb.jpg” thumb_width=”250″ /] (more…)

Technology for Aging in Place, 2017 edition preview

Industry analyst Laurie Orlov previews her annual review of ‘Technology for Aging In Place’ on LinkedIn with six insights into the changes roiling health tech in the US. We’ll start with a favorite point–terminology–and summarize/review each (in bold), not necessarily in order.

“Health Tech” replaces “Digital Health,” begins acknowledging aging. This started well before Brian Dolan’s acknowledgment in Mobihealthnews, as what was ‘digital health’ anyway? This Editor doesn’t relate it to a shift in investment money, more to the 2016 realization by companies and investors that care continuity, meaningful clinician workflow, access to key information, and predictive analytics were a lot more important–and fundable–than trying to figure out how to handle Data Generated by Gadgets.

Niche hardware will fade away – long live software and training. Purpose-built ‘senior tablets’ will likely fade away. The exception will be specialized applications in remote patient monitoring (RPM) for vital signs and in many cases, video, that require adaptation and physical security of standard tablets. These have device connectivity, HIPAA, and FDA (Class I/II) concerns. Other than those, assistive and telehealth apps on tablets, phablets and smartphones with ever-larger screens are enough to manage most needs. An impediment: cost (when will Medicare start assisting with payments for these?), two-year life, dependence on vision, and their occasionally befuddling ways.

Voice-first interfaces will dominate apps and devices. “Instead we will be experimenting with personal assistants or AI-enabled voice first technologies (Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana) which can act as mini service provider interfaces – find an appointment, a ride, song, a restaurant, a hotel, an airplane seat.” In this Editor’s estimation, a Bridge Too Far for this year, maybe 2018. Considerations are cost, intrusiveness, and accuracy in interpreting voice commands. A strong whiff of the Over-Hyped pervades.

Internet of Things (IoT) replaces sensor-based categories. Sensors are part of IoT, so there’s not much of a distinction here, and this falls into ‘home controls’ which may be out of the box or require custom installation. Adoption again runs into the roadblocks of cost and intrusiveness with older people who may be quite reluctant to take on both. And of course there is the security concern, as many of these devices are insecure, eminently hackable, and has been well documented as such.

Tech-enabled home care pressures traditional homecare providers – or does it? ‘What exactly is tech-enabled care? And what will it be in the future?’ Agreed that there will be a lot of thinking in home care about what $200 million in investment in this area actually means. Is this being driven by compliance, or by uncertainty around what Medicare and state Medicaid will pay for in future?

Robotics and virtual reality will continue — as experiments. Sadly, yes, as widespread adoption means investment, and it’s not there on the senior housing level where there are other issues bubbling, such as real estate and resident safety. There are also liability issues around assistance robotics that have not yet been worked out. Exoskeletons–an assistance method this Editor has wanted to see for several years for older adults and the disabled–seems to be stalled at the functionality/expense/weight level.

Study release TBD

The ‘right package of care’ sought for ‘bed-blockers’, home care (UK/US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Thomas.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]’Bed-blocking’ as a signal failure of transitional care. Here is a term that may be unique to the UK, but not the problem: older people who cannot be discharged after an illness because there is no plan and no suitable place for transitional care and/or a safe return home with care. According to the Guardian, the term originated among UK healthcare managers and economists as early as the late 1950s as a marker of system inefficiency. The writer, Johnny Marshall, director of policy for the NHS Confederation, correctly notes that it should be a marker of “(a) system that has failed to move quickly enough to put together the right package of care to enable the person in the bed to return home” and that unfairly blames the patient. He gives examples of programs across Britain with home assessment and care, particularly for older people post-fall injury, that reduce or eliminate hospital days.

In the US, transitional care is pointing to a blend of home care tech/services. Some of the indicators for LTC support that Laurie Orlov points out in Tech-enabled home care — what is it, what should it be?

  • Assisted living growth is flat as this past weekend’s open can of soda–housing is chasing residents (though cost doesn’t seem to be following the usual supply/demand curve), the average resident is 87 years old and staying 22 months, and their net worth can’t afford present AL
  • There’s a huge and growing shortage of home care workers for an ever-increasing number of old and old-old
  • Yet finally big investment is taking place in tech-facilitated home care locating and matching: Honor.com, Care.com and ClearCare–a total of just under $150 million for the three

But can technology–front and back end–make up for the human shortage? And there’s a value in wearing the Quantitative Self hat here. (more…)

Technology for Aging in Place 2016

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/elderly-smartphone.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Laurie Orlov’s updated view of technologies that assist home caregiving/living, and her observations on trends for both boomers and those well over 65, is hot off the (virtual) presses and available here on her website. It is US-market oriented, but the trends explored here will be of interest internationally. The focus in this study is home-based systems for safety, alerts, activity/location tracking (telecare), home care/caregiving tools and what this Editor would call ‘health monitoring light’–med minders and logging apps versus medically-oriented telehealth (vital signs, save for AliveCor) and telemedicine (virtual visits/consults).

Highlights:

  • In communication, internet non-usage among 75+ has declined to 50 percent over the past 15 years.
  • The tablet form factor is losing ground as smartphones get bigger. Older adults and smartphones are beginning to ‘get along’ partly as they grow larger, but also that feature and simple phones are becoming less available.
  • Also losing ground is senior housing–residents are delaying entry to assisted living until they are mid 80s and frailer. Savings and debt in the boomer group is low and high, respectively.
  • Investors are caring more about home care, with large investments ($80 million) in three regional home care worker startups: Honor (San Francisco), Home Hero (Los Angeles), and Hometeam (New York/New Jersey), caregiving apps and chronic care management (CareSync, with an $18 million raise).
  • Dementia care support tools are (finally) developing into its own category.

Surprising conclusions: PERS alerting stays strong, but changes to be mobile-enabled and more cosmetic; a lot of convergence of categories and forms; and the term ‘health tech’ will replace ‘digital health’. Oh my!

Tunstall Americas allies with Apria Healthcare (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-T-thumb-480×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”125″ /]Tunstall Americas continues its home care provider-centric strategy through an expanded product marketing relationship with Apria Healthcare. Apria, in addition to home care services, markets directly to customers a range of medical devices and durable medical equipment; they will be selling Tunstall’s brands under their medical alert category. This is the first we’ve seen in the US the Tunstall Vi and iVi pendant, along with the CEL cellular PERS unit. Tunstall will also be providing Apria with custom branded products, along with call center, ordering and fulfillment services.  Apria is the US’ fourth largest home care provider (2014 Home Care Market Outlook) with 1.6 percent of a highly fractionated market. Our sources tell us that the initial relationship precedes the Tunstall acquisition of AMAC.  PR Web

Tunstall invests £100 m in ‘Connected Healthcare 2020’ strategy

Tunstall Healthcare Group in UK outlined today their five-year public, global strategic vision, along with a fresh investment of £100 million during this timeframe (~£20 m per year) to transition their connected care systems over to IP and cloud technology. The initiative, dubbed Connected Healthcare 2020, is centered on:

  1. Leading the switch to IP infrastructure–transitioning away from analogue (analog) services and devices to connected digital and mobile (cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)
  2. Extending managed services–offering a wide variety of services end-to-end including full outsourcing
  3. Developing new consumer propositions through innovation–tapping into demand, often private pay, for high quality home care not provided by carers (caregivers)
  4. Developing new models of care in the home through integration–coordination of social care and healthcare

The Yorkshire Post article also points out, through their separate comments with CEO Paul Stobart, that prospective markets include developing nations with aging populations such as Mexico, South Korea and Turkey. Tunstall claims market leadership in UK, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Australia, as well as fourth position in the US. The TECS (technology enabled care services) initiative will create about a dozen jobs per year at the Whitley HQ, adding to their present 650 there and their total globally of 3,500. Tunstall release

We wonder if in the US we will see more of Tunstall at events like the mHealth Summit. Tunstall Americas has a refreshed website and communications as ‘The voice of connected health’, is more strongly promoting their call/contact services and its HQ location in New York City. We’ve previously noted their recent home care acquisitions and partnership with QMedic.

Dr Topol’s prescription for The Future of Medicine, analyzed

The Future of Medicine Is in Your Smartphone sounds like a preface to his latest book, ‘The Patient Will See You Now’, but it is quite consistent with Dr Topol’s talks of late [TTA 5 Dec]. The article is at once optimistic–yes, we love the picture–yet somewhat unreal. When we walk around and kick the tires…

First, it flies in the face of the increasing control of healthcare providers by government as to outcomes and the shift for good or ill to ‘outcomes-based medicine’. Second, ‘doctorless patients’ may need fewer services, not more, and why should these individuals, who represent the high-info elite at least initially, be penalized by having to pay the extremely high premiums dictated by government-approved health insurance (in the US, ACA-compliant insurance a/k/a Obamacare)–or face the US tax penalties for not enrolling in same? Third, those liberating mass market smartwatches and fitness trackers aren’t clinical quality yet–fine directionally, but real clinical diagnosis (more…)

New consultation on monitoring of home-based care services (UK)

Undaunted by the apparent lack of interest in their multi supplier framework agreement for telecare & telehealth tender last year, the East Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) is now seeking to establish a multi supplier framework agreement for the supply of systems to facilitate the monitoring by local authorities and other service commissioners and service providers of home-based care services. The framework will apparently also include solutions and products that assist in the scheduling of home care visits and the rostering of care staff.

According to the announcement, the requirement is for both stand alone and integrated systems, with various hosting options and technologies. Systems should ideally be tailored to the needs of the home care sector.

At this stage, ESPO is keen to engage with interested parties to discuss the products and services currently available in the market, options regarding the structure of the procurement and the anticipated direction of future market developments. Those keen to participate in this market consultation are asked to contact Louis Blake on 0116 294 4055 or l.blake@espo.org, by 30 August 2014.

Although having a touch of “big brother” (more…)

Medicare dis-incentivizes home health care in ACA’s name (US)

When it comes to home health care, the C in CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) should perhaps stand for ‘contradiction’. According to recent reports appearing in the pre-holiday ‘dead zone’ of late last week, CMS has decreed that it must save, as part of a four-year plan under ACA, $58 million (0.3 percent) in fiscal 2015 (starting 1 Oct) from home health agencies which were formerly touted as a great way to save money. To put this in perspective: in 2013, Medicare paid about 12,000 home health agencies $18 billion to provide services to 3.5 million patients. In the US, Medicare has always had more restrictive rules for home and community-based services (HCBS); state-administered (but Federally subsidized) means-tested Medicaid still pays for the vast majority of long-term care (well over 60 percent, according to another Federal agency, Housing and Urban Development [HUD]), which strikes many observers as one pocket to another. So where are the contradictions?

  • Conundrum #1: CMS has emphasized post-discharge, post-acute care as part of reducing acute care costs, exemplified in the penalty for 30-day same-cause readmissions. Nursing home expenditure is at least three times more costly than in-home LTC (a conservative estimate used by HUD).
    • But CMS plans to cut Medicare home health funding in total so fewer people may receive it at all or less of it even if needed. What will be their alternative, and the effect on outcomes? (more…)

eCaring gains Series A financing (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/eCaring-Screenshot.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]Home care management/monitoring system eCaring (New York) this week secured $3.5 million in Series A funding, led by Ascent Biomedical Ventures. Private investor Stephen Jackson will be joining the eCaring board, as well as being on the board of client MJHS. Funding will go to product development, sales and marketing targeted to managed care plans, home health agencies, payers, hospitals and related entities. The CareTracker program is unique in that caregivers/aides with relatively low English language or computer literacy can, through icons, easily input both clinical and behavioral information on a home care patient which summarizes by patient and aggregates at the care manager level. There is also a CarePortrait feature that determines baseline norms for behavior such as activity and sleep. eCaring, with Pace University, was also one of 2013’s PILOT Health Tech NY/NYEDC/Health 2.0 winners for a project with the Henry Street Settlement. A big cheer for CEO/founder Robert Herzog who has been championing this aging services/aging in place technology for several years while QS apps and fitness trackers stole all the buzz at the cocktail parties and accelerators. Release, MedCityNews (photo)