Are you aware of the TEC revolution?
As well as managing Manchester public relations consultancy Republic Relations, I am also an integral part of the marketing team at Manchester Metropolitan University. For the last few months I have been mentoring numerous final year students as they develop a business plan they could potentially take forward into their working lives. This is a rigorous and demanding exercise and even an old hand like me usually learns something new.
One fabulous business idea that my colleagues and I were very excited about was for a medical Technology Enabled Care or TEC app. As this particular app has the potential to become reality, I won’t discuss the details but it did remind me of how far this area has developed in a relatively short time.
TEC is only likely to come onto your radar if and when you should ever need it. This can happen if an elderly parent needs some kind of emergency alarm system or a medication reminder system. You may find yourself with a long-term condition that needs monitoring or most likely of all you could already be using some form of TEC through a mental health or fitness app.
This is a digital revolution that is happening right now and most people have no idea it’s going on. The sector needs to embrace a communication campaign that will shout about its success so that a broader section of the public can be made aware of how technology is transforming care.
For example, it was recently announced that NHS patients in Scotland can monitor their own blood pressure through an app called Florence or Flo. The GP or practice nurse will monitor results and call patients in if necessary. In Cornwall, the council is piloting a smartphone app, the Brian in Hand app, designed to help people with a learning disability, autism or mental health conditions manage their anxiety and live independently. There are dozens more examples of these TEC advances going on in the NHS every day.
Of course, there are challenges. The sector must ensure that this technology is fit for purpose and well regulated. The Quality Standards Framework (QSF) has already been developed as an independent audit and certification programme. However, the biggest challenge facing certain parts of the sector, in particular telecare, is the analogue telephone service switch off in 2025. Telecare and social alarm services must not compromise patient safety and there is a big communication job to be done here.
Overall, TEC presents enormous opportunity and of course both personnel and cost efficiency for the NHS which is always welcome. However, one concern for me is that these efficiencies must not come at the cost of personal care, which for the isolated elderly in particular is priceless.
So, come on TEC sector, tell us all what’s happening and what the public can do to support you – let us be part of the revolution.