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.
Docobo, as seen on YouTube.
2 minutes 15 seconds. Telecare in Kent. Brief item from Kent County Council’s ‘Kent TV‘ site.
…people who know me will anticipate that I have a huge problem with Norfolk’s conflation of ‘assistive technology’ with telecare and telehealth. (See comments on the Terminology Campaign item.)
Let’s get this straight: ‘assistive technology’ is a very broad term for any equipment that helps compensate for some form of functional impairment. Or, as the Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) defines it, “Assistive Technology (AT) is any product or service designed to enable independence for disabled and older people.”
A few shots at the beginning of the video imply that they understand this, but it soon slips into referring to the telecare and telehealth as AT. Although can be regarded as a subset of AT, there is no implication that AT has a remote component in any way, which is the key defining characteristic of telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, etc. When I was contracted to work at the Department of Health I frequently reminded civil servants and Ministers not to refer to telecare as ‘assistive technology’ and I thought that eventually the message did get through. At least by the time the Preventative Technology Grant conditions were published. And now it raises its head again…
See also the Telecare Soapbox item re ‘Smart Homes’.
OK, rant over! My thanks to Saneth Wijayaratna of Telemedcare Ltd for alerting me to the video.
(It’s also a good example of a visually-oriented presentation.)
Thanks to Marnee Brick, the TinyEye online speech therapist, for finding this video.
In this 6½ minute video of US Senator for South Dakota John Thune successfully advocates an increase in funding for telehealth in October 2007. It is interesting to observe his superordinate use of the term ‘telehealth’, with ‘telemedicine’ sometimes seeming to be used interchangeably, and sometimes subordinately to it when contrasted with ‘telehomecare”.
I’m grateful to Marnee Brick, a speech therapist, for spotting this video. As an ex-speech and language therapist I am delighted to see that she is promoting online therapy. See her site: TinyEYE.
However, I do have a problem with her construction of online speech therapy under ‘telehealth’ in her blog. As I’ve mentioned previously, the terminology issue here is not with ‘tele’. It’s what comes after: is speech therapy is a health or an education-related discipline – or something else? This was a debate going on in the UK from at least the ’60s. She also uses the term ‘telespeech’ and ‘telepractice’.
Japanese Medical Electronic Science Institute press release.
1min 34sec 15 Aug 2006. Older people benefit from home alarms (West Lothian) View here
1min 32sec 23 May 2007. New healthcare system piloted (Kent) View here
1min 47sec 29 Jan 2008. Bed sensor helps elderly couple View here
2min 18 sec 30 Jan 2008. Advances in telecare devices (People with Learning Difficulties and Older People) View here
13 minutes 06 seconds. Title: A&D Products. A&D’s video introducing its products. Click here to view.
7 minutes. Title: Guardian Alert 911
Small phone device that links to US 911 services. Click here to view.
30 seconds (long version) 10 seconds (short version). Title: Alertacall Television Advertisements.
Promoting Alertacall’s Safety Confirmation Service to the general public in the UK’s Border TV region from 19 September 2007 onwards.
A definite pointer to the future. Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. (ISSYS), has given premission to post the video made when it was selected as a NASA Hallmark of Success company.
2 minutes 18 seconds. Title: Promotional video
1 minute 27 seconds. Title: Demonstration
They like robots in Japan and are working hard to turn them into human replacement care givers. RI-MAN, developed by Riken BMC, can ‘see’, ‘hear’ ‘touch’ and ‘smell’ and can lift and carry a person – well, mannequin in the demo. TIME selected RI-MAN as one of the best products of 2006. See the two videos near the top of this page. Watch them both. Scroll down for more information and pictures. After that, you may like to visit the Secom Meal Assistance My Spoon robot site. No video, but an interesting development for the right clients.
4 minutes 57 seconds. Title: Improved Access to Patient Care: Telemedicine in Action.
You will need to follow this link to the Cisco site for this video making the case for telemedicine, published June 2005.
but a pointer to the future. After that, find a spare 40 minutes and watch the video on Intel’s website of Paul Otellini announcing the World Ahead Program. It’s thought provoking stuff.