Overview of Digital Telecare
Technological change is a fast-moving environment with the internet prominent in our lives and work. In order to prepare for the future, in 2017 British Telecom announced that by 2025 the existing analogue telephone network will be switched off and everyone will receive a digital internet protocol (IP) voice service enabled. As you would anticipate, all other communication providers in the UK are following suit by updating the way they deliver telephone services.
Although majority of telephone users will be unaware of any change to their telephony service, there are implications for citizens in receipt of telecare in their home environments. In addition to the telecare service provision per se, the change will impact on supportive technologies within their homes.
On some occasions, analogue telecare products may continue to operate however they are likely to become less reliable, with additional complexities surrounding installation and device management.
Scottish Government’s Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme has been working to support the integration of both telehealth and telecare by driving improvement, integration and innovation. As a result, TEC established Digital Telecare in early 2017.
Over the past couple of years, Digital Telecare has been working closely with Partnerships to identify the requirements needed to ensure a smooth, safe, transition to a digital service for citizens in recipient of telecare in their home environments.
There are several Scottish Government strategic documents that detail the drivers for digital change in health and social care pan Scotland: One example, “Scotland’s Digital Health and Care Strategy – Enabling, Connecting and Empowering”, describes a collaborative approach to improve citizen outcomes by supporting the transition to digital telecare.
The Scottish Governments Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme was launched in late 2014 when the Scottish Government announced additional investment and a new national programme to accelerate progress in technology enabled care to significantly increase citizen choice and control in health, wellbeing and care services. One of the key undertakings of the TEC Programme is to expand and embed the use of telecare.
At its most basic, digital telecare removes the reliance on analogue connectivity and signalling protocols, instead using digital connections and signalling protocols. This allows telecare services to be transferred from analogue to digital on a ‘like-for-like’ basis. However, the move to digital telecare also provides a significant increase in the flexibility, capability, and capacity of telecare equipment and the connection between a user’s home and the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). This provides the opportunity to improve the efficiency of telecare delivery, to widen the range of telecare services offered to users, and to integrate telecare with other health and care services.