OnePerspective: Analogue telecare is a dead horse: stop flogging it

Editor’s Note: ‘OnePerspective’ articles are written by industry contributors on issues of importance to our Readers. They reflect the opinions of their authors and are archived under ‘Perspectives’.

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]By: Tom Morton

Call failures to alarm receiving centres in the UK are rising but the reasons for this are currently the subject of hot debate.

The problem is linked to the roll out of the next generation network (NGN) replacing the UK’s analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), a task which will be complete by 2025.

What is not debatable is that 1.7m of the most vulnerable in our society are being placed at risk as calls to alarm receiving centres (ARCs) increasingly fail or are delayed in their delivery due to incompatibilities of existing technologies.

At the Telecare Services Association (TSA) conference in November 2017, technology-enabled care services company Appello, with circa 100k telecare system users, identified a 7.5 percent call failure rate and announced the problem as “deeply worrying”.

At the same event, Communicare247 presented a report which highlighted a significant 12.3 percent spike in call failures identified by Falkirk Council. This was part of an ongoing analogue to digital assessment program operating across 12 percent of the existing Scottish telecare user base, and significantly this spike occurred in Falkirk within a short three month period. Both Falkirk Council and Appello have published their evidence of increasing call failures in a TSA whitepaper.

The TSA white paper, A Digital Future For Technology Enabled Care, highlights that the 1.7million people in the UK reliant on telecare need answers as their service is “threatened by disruption as UK telecommunications shift from analogue to digital”.

Yet the link to call failures and the rollout of NGN has been called into question by a major equipment provider. In a recent blog, they asked a very challenging question: Are network issues causing a greater number of alarm call failures?

Their answer delivered by the blog was, in essence, ‘maybe not yet’.

In a comparison between one ARC, where call failures were high versus another where they were low, the blog claimed that “while the use of NGN networks has grown in the last few years this cannot account for the increasing trend”.

As a potential compromise, the author also said that they could overcome any potential issues through the use of hybrid terminal adaptors (ATAs).

However, evidence both in the UK and Sweden plainly demonstrates call failures increase as the network switches to digital. (more…)

TSA’s annual International Telecare and Telehealth Conference

17 – 18 November 2014, Celtic Manor Resort, South Wales

“Solutions for 21st Century Care” is the theme of the TSA’s annual two-day interactive conference which will look closely at these five key areas: Service Integration, Standards, Innovation and Technology, Business Modeling and Leadership, Education and Training. There will be industry-focused breakout sessions as well as exhibition and showcase zones featuring the latest technology innovations. The chair for the conference will be Nick Goodwin, CEO, International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC). Confirmed speakers include: Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, Welsh Government; Esther Rantzen CBE, Founder of The Silver Line; Helena Herklots, Chief Executive, Carers UK; – Professor George Crooks OBE, Medical Director, NHS 24; Trevor Single, Chief Executive, Telecare Services Association; Michael Seres, Patient Entrepreneur and special guest speaker Colin Jackson CBE, Olympic Medalist. For more information, see the TSA Conference website here and register online here (booking forms are also downloadable on the earlier page).

One in Four Lives: the Australian 3ML

Australia was delivering personal healthcare at a distance (by radio and plane) long before ‘telehealth’ and, indeed ‘telecare’ were coined. One therefore wonders in what way a consortium of Australian companies were inspired by England’s 3millionlives (3ML) in developing their own version: One in Four Lives. Perhaps they thought they could do better.

10 months after the One in Four Lives launch in May 2013, they have produced a white paper (PDF download) which is, in effect, a manifesto calling for government support. It has some well-respected authors who accurately opine that the real challenge is not technological but is in “…creating sustainable, profitable business models that can meet the needs of governments, services operators, clinical practice and patients.”

The telehealth-world politics of this consortium might make an interesting study. We can only scratch the surface and wonder… According to the UK’s Telecare Services Association, its chief executive Trevor Single attended the original kick-off meeting in Australia. Who is not ‘in’ is quite interesting. Tunstall, the instigator of 3ML in England and which has a strong presence in Australia, is notable by its absence. Also missing are significant providers such as Silver Cross and OzCare, and the leading Australian universities and institutions in telehealth research. The dominant partner appears to be BT which, as our UK readers will  be aware, led by its Clinical Director, Global Market Development at BT Global Services, Angela Single, has ambitions to dominate the telehealth world.

Related media items:
The Australian, May 2013: BT leads big push to roll out national telehealth services
 ARN, March 2014: Telehealth could save “unsustainable” federal health budget, according to a white paper

TSA Crystal Awards winners

The Telecare Services Association (TSA) announced its Crystal Awards winners [TTA 7 Nov on shortlist] at their gala dinner last week, and they are:

Most creative application of technology including telecare, telehealth, telecoaching: STAY (Sandwell Telecare Assisting You) and Red Embedded Systems Ltd. for their use of innovative video supporting those with learning disabilities. Receiving the award were our Contributing Editor Alasdair Morrison of STAY and Adam Hoare of Red Embedded.

Enhancing lives through technology enabled services: Peninsula Community Health for their home-based telehealth solution addressing a spike in UTIs in their locality.

Professional of the Year: Sarah Wyke of Stafford and Rural Homes

An additional award for 2013 Overall Winner, signifying the highest level of excellence across all three categories, was awarded to Peninsula Community Health.

More information on the awards and judging panel in their release (PDF)–and click the headline to view comments. Hat tip to the TSA’s Mark Leivesley for the updates.

TSA Crystal Awards shortlist announced

The Telecare Services Association announced its Crystal Awards nominees which recognize excellence across technology enabled services and creative technology development.

Most creative application of technology including telecare, telehealth, telecoaching
STAY (Sandwell Telecare Assisting You) and Red Embedded Systems Ltd
Contour Homes
The Medvivo Group

Enhancing lives through technology enabled services
The Medvivo Group
Peninsula Community Health
Stafford and Rural Homes

Professional of the Year
Bristol Careline
Stafford and Rural Homes
Contour Homes

This Editor notes that Medvivo, Contour Homes and Stafford and Rural Homes are nominated in two out of three categories, which if we were betting on the Academy Awards® would perhaps cancel each other out. Winners to be announced at the International Telecare and Telehealth Conference’s Gala Dinner on 12 November 2013. Release.