Sunday, 1 January 2012

Taking Telecare to a new level

With the beginning of a new year, after considerable thought I have decided to take telecare activities to the next level. Having spent three years as a Telecare Coordinator for a London Borough and obtained excellent CQC reports for the service whilst in charge, and having worked as an academic for over ten years working in the field of telecare, assistive technology, smart homes, telehealth, ambient technologies, ubiquitous technologies, eHealth, mHealth, mobile technologies in addittion to my other interests in architecture and building design, health in general and of course people with long term conditions and disabled people, I now feel that the time is right for something new.

The Whole Systems Demonstrators (WSD) by the UK’s Dpeartment of Health (DH) has recently reported on its headline findings which clearly indicate a positive use of technology can save lives and save resources. There is little doubt that these findings will be scrutinised fully once the full reports are available, and at this point the headlines might not reveal the whole picture, but they are very encouraging.

We can now be confident that technology can save lives and resources, but we also need to ensure that the technology meets the needs and expectations of the people requiring it. It is important that as a result of using technology the person is not expected to become a machine, operating in unreasonable and predictive manners.

If you have a long term condition, your life is punctuated by regular events, such as taking medication, medical appointments, all the way through to the more chronic who might require assistance in all activities of daily living. What I consider unacceptable, is that technology designed to assist becomes the problem. This could be through making assumptions about people’s lifestyles and expecting unreasonable interactions such as checking-in every hour, or pressing a button regularly to stop an alert. This could also be through false alerts or just the technology not meeting operational expectations.

We are in a era which is really exciting. Technology is evolving faster than ever before and we should be able to harness this technology to enhance people’s live by removing barriers of distance, by producing virtual communities, and bringing virtual services through the cloud to people anywhere in the world.

My current concern is that although some electronic devices benefit from the advances in modern technologies, (eg mobile phones, tablets etc) other more mundane technologies, such as pendant alarm based systems or wandering sensors are failing to think beyond the standard.

We are entering a new year, 2012, and we have the chance to begin to create the world we want. A world where distance is not an issue, where access to products and services is far easier through modern technology. My hope for this new year is that we can get together and design products that will last, which have relevance and meaning to those we design for. This year could and should be the year of personalisation and innovation.

We need to stop waiting for tomorrow to create what is needed to today. We need to act now!

We need to change the way we think about products.

We need to change the way we think about services and service provision.

We need to change the way we think about technology and we need to change the way we think about people.

We need to step away from the tick box solution.

Let’s make Person-Centred Design truly person-centred!

It is with these messages in mind that I have started a new business called gdewsbury which is a Freelance Specialist Technology Writing Service and Consultancy (gdewsbury.com) with which I wish to work with the cutting edge businesses to assist in the build and design or truly exeptional products and help small or new businesses become great through expert input.

This is the year to take telecare to a new level.
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