Photograph of blog author Adrian Scaife

Adrian Scaife, UK Product Marketing Manager, talks about three key areas that are delivered by Connected Care. 

I have been thinking a lot about the Connected Home and Connected Care recently, not least because colleagues around the world have been working hard on developing our 2020 Vision which was recently published and because there seems to be an endless stream of Connected Home or Internet of Things press releases from companies like Intel, Apple, Samsung, British Gas and Sears to name but a few.

In particular, I have been thinking about what Connected Care means to real people like my parents, and my family. Surprisingly, I have come to a very simple conclusion that there are three key overlapping areas that Connected Care delivers and that as an individual I may need any combination.

1. Enabling – allowing me to do things in a better more convenient way and compensating for any functional or cognitive decline as I age at home.

2. Proactive – services to prevent things happening, e.g. social isolation, combined with services that flag up to me and others around me that something different is happening that may be an early indication of something more serious to come.

3. Responsive – letting others know when an important critical event has happened.

The one thing these areas have in common is that they can, and more frequently will, be delivered using digital or connected technologies. I will leave it to others to talk about how these services are provided, the technology and the infrastructure required etc.

So how do these areas look from an outcomes based perspective?

Enabling is all about choice and control, helping me do things my way, not allowing any impairments get in the way of doing the core things in life.

Proactive is all about prevention and prediction. Noticing the small signs and creating opportunities for interventions to head off a crisis, such as an unplanned hospital admission. It includes trends and simple alerts to things that may indicate something more later and supports self-care. At the very least it’s about delaying for as long as possible a move away from home. It is not about imposing solutions – see this thought provoking short video illustrating the consequences.

Responsive is all about minimising the consequences once something has happened. These are often life/safety critical events and require a very timely response such as calling the emergency services.

Are there examples?

 Current examplesFuture Connected Care exampleApplication
Enabling24/7 Online prescription renewal makes life easier, more convenientPresence sensorUsed as part of intruder system
Automatically switches on a light as enter a room
Part of a smart utility system to reduce bills and save carbon emissions.
ResponsivePendant and telecare solutions e.g. smoke detector alarm minimises consequences of a fire.Presence sensorWhen joined up with other sensors such as bed occupancy can alert to a fall and minimise consequences of a long lie.
ProactiveTelehealth and wellbeing solutions alert and allow early interventionPresence sensorUsed to support Activities of Daily Living alerts

I suspect we are generally OK as consumers in getting the things we need to enable our daily lives. Equally, when a crisis occurs we generally respond well. We have a long way to go to be truly proactive/preventative and intervene early to head off avoidable crisis that could benefit all of us in different ways and that is one area where Connected Care can really add new additional value.

So are these thoughts addressed to the NHS, or Social Care, or Department of Health, the Third Sector or Care and Support Providers? Actually, all of the above and probably more!

For me this simple model creates a common framework from which we can all agree and play our part in helping real people live the lives they want.