Guest article: How is technology revolutionising health and care services? – AT Today

Tech & services news for healthcare professionals
In this article, Zillah Moore, Director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses how technology is revolutionising the UK’s health and care services and what can be expected moving forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the opportunities to revolutionise how health and social care is delivered. We must look closely at this progress and consider how much further we can go for the benefit of both service users and their immediate support network of carers, clinicians and families.
New technologies connect people, enable integrated care provision and can empower people to manage their own health and wellbeing. The health crisis has illustrated just how crucial technology-enabled care services (TECS) are and the lessons learned during the pandemic will help us to reshape our care services in a way that supports a post-COVID world.
The future of social care relies on a shift to a more person-centred approach and a greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention, which will allow people to continue living as independently as possible for longer.
During the pandemic, we witnessed an increase in remote GP consultations; greater investment in telehealth; a reduction in the need for emergency care, which gave hospitals a greater opportunity to care for patients with COVID; and a surge in the understanding of sector professionals regarding the remarkable impact that TECS can have on population health and wellbeing.
Technological initiatives which would previously have taken months to become operational have been established and mobilised in weeks, and collaborative care has become more mainstream.
Technology is widely seen as a way to address this challenge currently facing the health and social care sector, and enable the provision of high-quality care to an ageing and post-pandemic population.
Technology allows for a more personalised system, which gives patients greater independence by providing remote care at home. This enables individuals to engage with their own health and wellbeing effectively, and clinicians and carers to monitor service users regularly.
This supports preventative care, as service providers are better placed to monitor vulnerable individuals and treat them long before emergency or more expensive care is required. This not only reduces the pressure on our health and social care systems as demand for specialist care diminishes, but it also reduces costs for care providers and the public, as well as improving quality of life and outcomes for patients.
The next step in the evolution of predictive care technology will offer insight into how much further digitally-enabled care provision can progress. Using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and taking data from multiple sources, including motion sensors, smartphones and wearables, new technology provides a clear picture of the risks someone faces and can ‘nudge’ them or their caregivers to respond, or alert a professional.
The latest generation of technology is designed to improve the quality of life for more vulnerable people, while reducing the number of GP visits, ambulance callouts, hospital admissions, and demand for local authority-funded residential care. Systems are being designed to build on the successes that telecare and remote health monitoring have already delivered, enabling a strengths-based approach to care and empowering people to take control of their health.
Galvanising the gains made during the pandemic will drive services towards digital-first care provision, which sees significant benefits across the board. In order to create a truly integrated health and care system, resourcing proven technologies and making their appropriate use mandatory is crucial to ensuring services are fit for the future.