A report says there’s limited uptake of digitally-enabled care in the home but industry can’t sit around waiting for government to solve the problem.

Julieanne Parkinson

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing’s Digital Health in the Home Report released in May sought to shed light on community attitudes towards the use of health technology in the home and identify the challenges and opportunities facing industry.

It says tech providers need to improve usability, workflow integration and interoperability.

They also need to focus on providing independent information on efficacy and safety and skills development for users.

 “While the digital health industry develops, promoting the benefits for all stakeholders remains a major tool to gain buy-in from professionals, end-users, and family members,” it says.

“Our findings demonstrate that a coordinated effort is required to reskill industry, validate and shed light upon the most suitable technology, and design models of care that will not compromise on quality care provision.”

An emerging landscape

GCMA CEO Julianne Parkinson says the report found that in a largely fragmented home care market digitally-enabled care is still very much “an emerging landscape characterised by varying levels of maturity”.

Many of the tech-enabled products currently on the market haven’t been designed with older people at the centre of the process,” she told Community Care Review.

“We see it as being an important part of considering this technology that it needs to be designed to improve useability for all those involved.

“So they may have been designed with the best of intentions but they’re not necessarily hitting the mark.”

Ms Parkinson says technology needs to viewed as not just an interface between a piece of technology and an older person, but part of an ecosystem including care staff, providers, family and industry.

She predicts the future will be full of new and emerging companies and entrepreneurs who will be part of that ecosystem.

Ms Parkinson says consumers want better safety, more independence and specific health  outcomes from digitally enabled care, while providers are looking for efficiencies.

“There’s certainly a move towards more proactive and preventative and predictive health care which puts us more on the front foot of ageing well as distinct from responding to chronic diseases,” she says .

“It’s also about greater peace of mind for the users and their families around people as they age.”

Government not the only party

Industry can’t wait for government, Ms Parkinson says.

“We believe the innovation will come, we don’t believe the money need only be the responsibility of government.

“There are opportunities for the private market to benefit from this socially and economically and therefore we should, as the private market, be investing in development and not leaving it to government.

“We think government plays an important role but alone they will not solve or create the opportunities of the future.”

Says GCMA’s philosophy is that accelerated outcomes that improve wellbeing and reduce the burden on health budgets will come with proper investment channelled through international codesign.

“Government absolutely has an important role to play but they are not the only party,” she says.

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