UK ‘must harness technology assisted care’

The UK health and care system must accelerate the use of digital technology seen over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by thinktank Public Policy Projects (PPP).

The pandemic has increased the adoption of telehealth, telecare, telemedicine and assistive technologies, and government should ensure the momentum is maintained to reduce strain on health and social care services, says PPP.

The Connecting services, transforming lives’ report, published in partnership with Tunstall Healthcare, outlines some of the barriers to the uptake of technology-enabled care services and makes a series of recommendations to expedite their adoption.

Key recommendations include for the government to introduce a minimum technology standard across providers to enable the social care sector to become more technologically enabled, and digital upskilling of the workforce.

“The better application of technology to enable the reshaping of the health and care sector as a whole is one of the key challenges that the UK faces,” said PPP executive chairman Stephen Dorrell (pictured).

“Doing so would deliver significant benefits; most importantly in improving patient outcomes and service-user experiences, but also in reducing the strain on staff and carers, and potentially delivering cost savings or cost avoidance,” he added.

Tunstall Healthcare managing director Gavin Bashar said: “The last decade has seen an exponential rise in the use of technology in the home, with smart speakers, heating and lighting systems now commonplace. And yet this increased adoption has not been mirrored in health and care provision.

“The NHS is still using fax machines, and domiciliary care workers continue to fill in paperwork in folders to record care visits.”