Technology for Business enables us to do what we are already doing but Better and if used for the correct purpose, should enhance the business processes we currently have and enable us to be not only more Time efficient but also Cost efficient. We live in a society that is increasingly being digitised. Almost everything we do generates data and is being captured in some way. This is helping to form our digital signature and drive what is referred to as the 'Big Data' revolution. By itself Technology doesn't solve our business problems; for that we need human interaction, as without this willingness and acceptability to expose data, most new technology initiatives would fail.
Our acceptance of this data capture has changed over time to a point that we as individuals are less concerned about our data being captured and more about who controls it and has access to it. What we share is a belief that gathering and analysing data about their everyday activities can help them improve their lives—an approach known as "self-tracking", "body hacking" or "self-quantifying". This acceptance has led to the growth of 'The Internet of Things'. (The Internet of Things (IOT) is where objects, animals or people are provided with unique device identifiers that have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring any external interaction.) The advancement of wireless technologies and microchips has enabled the creation of a wealth of devices that can communicate massive amounts of data about us and about the environment around us. This is where we can see the advantages of doing what we are already doing but doing it Better.
The IOT is shaking up the industry in terms of how we consume and interact with our digital environment. Traditionally we use the big web goliaths to find information and interact with the digital world from buying goods to searching for information. The Internet of Things is disrupting this traditional 'Pull based' web model where users do all the work. With IOT we use technology in bite-sized chunks to pull together a holistic view of ourselves, or Push based technology.
“Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in human history - and the twenty-first century will witness even more rapid ageing than did the century just past.”
Mobile technologies are changing the way we all interact with each other and can be especially relevant when used with IOT to gather and interpret our lives and the lives of those around us. Using technology in this way is a true game-changer and is leading the way towards truly authenticate mobile-first services.
So what is the starting point, how do we keep doing what we were previously doing but do it Better and Smarter? There are many industries that technology can help us work smarter and one of those is the Care Industry. Traditionally a very conservative industry, home care is very much a people orientated profession and is a perfect example of where the connected nature of our lives and the new IOT could interact in harmony. This harmony offers many opportunities to increase the quality of care and available information for both the individuals themselves, their relatives and their caregivers. As every new device is connected to the Internet this gives us the opportunity to monitor and use its data.
The high staffing levels and paper-dominated processes associated with the care sector offer a great opportunity to utilise IOT devices for better person care while also reducing the paper overhead so often associated with this industry.
The really disruptive idea here is the bringing together of the three main elements of Monitors, Outcomes and Stakeholders to form the Connected Person.
The unconnected person relies on the disparate activities of their location, the location of their physical files and the carers knowledge of their particular personal details. Under this model the caregiver is required to retain numerous facts and be vigilant of visual cues that need to be passed on to other relevant caregivers at shift-change. This can result in reactionary healthcare that relies on perception and reporting of issues.
The mobilizing of data, the application of constant and real-time monitoring, and promoting of individual triggers and alerts can encourage pre-emptive healthcare. Under this model all stakeholders can receive relevant health data or alerts without being in the vicinity of the connected person.
Lets take the scenario of a dementia sufferer living in a nursing home. Each part of the person is being monitored to some degree and is being held as hard copy files. All documentation and paperwork is manually filled in by caregivers and stored in a physical file structure. All result of blood tests, weigh evaluations, care plans, falls, health scares etc. are stored and if needed for appraisals are retyped into a computerised system where they may be printed and given to stakeholders. To access information the caregiver and any of the stakeholders need to see the physical documentation, normally on site.
If we take the same scenario of the dementia sufferer and add some connected devices and technology we can paint a much more rounded picture of the person. By using a connected wristband on the person we can monitor elements such as their heart rate, sleeping patterns and even their activity. Added to this, accelerometers can also be used to alert if the person has fallen or is in a physical position that is unexpected. The device could detect if they moved suddenly from standing to other and an alert could be sounded. The person could also have a Beacon device on their person that could signify where they are at any given moment due to the Beacon LE Bluetooth technology.
All of this data could be fed automatically to a central data store to be automatically analyzed by pre-set algorithms that could detect and raise any red flags that may be issues. This data could also be used to generate information sheets that could automatically go to relatives to allow them to be kept up-to-date on the care needs of their family.
We have already mentioned the underlying technology and devices that IOT brings us. With these devices monitoring can be done on:
There are currently an abundance of devices that allow for the above data to be streamed and collated; devices such as fitness wristbands, accelerometers, Bluetooth Beacons and Bluetooth enabled scales. The data collected can be used for both Outcomes and Stakeholders to portray a more rounded 360-degree connected picture of the person.
Bringing together IOT devices and tablet technologies could lead to a 360-degree view of the person being cared for. Mobile devices being strategically placed throughout the unit where they were staying could allow for care givers to interact and push important detail to the data repository, while also acting as a Beacon monitor. This alongside automatic capture devices would produce an overall picture of the person and allow for a greater amount of care and attention.
The data collected can be utilised to form a picture of the person. Doctors, Care Givers, Care providers and relatives, can use this picture to form a better understanding of the health status of the person involved. The data collected can be used and interpreted by each stakeholder for different purposes.
A weekly report could be generated and automatically emailed to the registered representative for the cared for person. Not only does this save time for the care givers in that they don't manually have to contact the relative but they don't have to spend time manually looking through notes to find any actionable items. The report that would be generated could include:
Caregivers, similar to relatives could have data reports that allow them to view the details of each cared for person within their remit. The seven report details under Relatives could be viewed but with more detail allowing for deeper analysis and predicted outcomes.
The Mobile device system could also be used to generate and give alert notifications where the data received from the person's device(s) shows that something has happened to them that warrants immediate attention. For instance if a connected person fell the accelerometer could send a signal to a control panel that would flash, in addition to a notification on a carers device indicating that attention was needed. The control panel could also indicate where and who the person was that needed attention.
The benefits that IOT and Connected Device technologies bring to care providers are two fold. Firstly as previously detailed they can help bring a new level of care to cared for people but a significant amount of time and money can be saved as well. As previously mentioned the Care industry is heavily dependent on paper-based forms and as such the amount of time to populate these forms and then repopulate them into a computer-based system is significant.
As a result efficiency can be improved by empowering Staff: giving them more patient details and alerts in a timely manner. While the mobile device platform firstly benefits the organisation at an operational level and ultimately contributes to the profit margins, it also has a halo effect in being an effective sales tool by providing real time updates to family members.
Weight, eating, sleep and medications are all input into the Mobile Device system by those carrying out the care at point of source. For instance, what medications were given first thing in the morning or what breakfast was eaten? The attached devices monitor the connected person throughout the day and give alerts if necessary. This data is automatically stored against the cared for person allowing for retrieval and reporting at any stage.
As the ageing population grows the needs of these people will come to dominate our lives more and more. Technology will not by itself solve all the challenges for this population, however it can certainly make the challenge a lot easier to manage and will give the connected person a better standard of care. The exciting elements of Mobile technologies combined with IOT devices and of course the human element will make for a better more connected care system. There will be less duplication of documentation, faster reactions to sudden health issues and of course a better understanding with all those who have a stake in the care of people. There will be devices to monitor health and well-being and any of those sudden issues that affect the older generation from Heart monitors to accelerometers. Of course, the technologies discussed don't necessarily only affect those in their later years as the technologies can be used for anyone with a health issue.
What is clear to see is that a huge shake up of the care industry is well overdue and with the rise of Mobility and IOT it is ripe for a disruptive shakeup.