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Innovative use of technology can help answer our five key questions

Categories:
  • Organisations we regulate

When we inspect and monitor health and social care services, there are five key questions we ask. These examples illustrate how technology can support good and outstanding person-centred care.

Safe

Helping ensure key information is accurate and easy to share with caring professionals in real time

Electronic medication management (eMar) systems can:

  • help staff to record the medicines given to people in their care
  • minimise mistakes or incomplete records.

Staff can access digital care plans and records more easily. They can record information in real time. This can be quickly and accurately shared to help keep people safe, and highlight key information, such as up to date medical and allergy information.


Effective

Supporting effective communication and more efficient use of resources, including finances

Staff, family and other providers can share digital records more easily and quickly. Staff can use handheld devices to record support given as it happens. This avoids having to complete paper records after the event.

Telemonitoring devices can help a person to manage their own health condition. Their care provider can use the information recorded to spot early signs of changes in their condition.


Caring

Supporting person-centred care and helping staff to spend more time on the things that really matter

Technology can support staff to make their processes more efficient. This means that their time isn’t taken up by administrative work.

Digital care records can make information easier to access and quicker to share. This reduces the number of times people who use services have to give information or repeat themselves.

Audio sensors in a bedroom can pick up sounds that suggest someone is in discomfort or distress during the night. The system is flexible, so can meet a person’s needs and choices, and can be switched on and off as required. Rather than carrying out routine checks, staff are alerted if they need to respond. This means they do not need to disturb people unnecessarily, but they can detect developing risks between checks.


Responsive to people's needs

Supporting providers to be more proactive and responsive to changing needs by helping to identify developing risks or needs more quickly

Communication aids (such as tablet based apps) can be tailored to an individual’s needs, preferences and activities. For example, they can be regularly updated with words and expressions that are important to the person using them. Voice recognition software can help to make adjustments for sensory disabilities. Or a computer based app can be also used to deliver tailor made treatment/recovery plans for people e.g. some exercises that a patient can do at home to help rehabilitation.

Movement sensors show changes in a person's activity during the day or night. They alert providers to the early signs of changes in need. They can mean a better balance between support and intrusion for people. People know the help is there if they need it, rather than by set routines.


Well-led

Supporting more effective quality assurance through more effective communication, information sharing and improved data analysis

People who use services and their families can use online platforms to access and contribute to the information that is important to them. They can also communicate with those involved in their care and treatment.

Anonymised data collected can be shared, compared and analysed to identify risks and themes, providing a bigger picture.


Types of technology used in care

These are examples of technology that's widely used in health and social care. We'll explore many of them in more depth later in this series. Follow us on Twitter and you'll be the first to know when we publish updates.

Telecare

Telecare includes personal alarms that people wear or put in their home. They call for urgent help when activated.

Sensors can track activity and identify risks where a person lives. They call for help if the person falls or there is a lack of movement for some time. They can also identify when a person is moving around less than usual, or if their habits change. For example, they might be using the bathroom more or sleeping less at night. Sensors can also pick up risks like fire, gas leaks, floods or significant temperature changes.

Memory aids help people remember when or how to do something, like take medicine, eat a meal or have a drink. These include talking alarm clocks or watches, which can help people with dementia.

Telemonitoring

Telemonitoring includes equipment people wear including implants under the skin, or put in their home to monitor their health. Examples include monitors for:

  • blood sugar
  • blood pressure
  • temperature
  • heart rate
  • breathing.

Telemedicine

Telehealth or Telemedicine is phone or video contact between people and health and social care professionals. It enables people to have contact with the professional in real time when the option of a face to face meeting is not available or it isn’t needed to agree the best treatment. For example, it could be used to connect a number of professionals involved in someone’s care. Or in smaller hospitals to link with centres of excellence.

Digital records

Records can be written, stored and shared digitally rather than on paper. This includes:

  • care plans
  • medical/clinical records
  • medication systems (eMar)
  • staff employment records, including recruitment and training records
  • staff management records, including rotas.

mHealth

mHealth (or mobile health) includes:

  • apps for smartphones or tablets
  • online patient communities offering information and support
  • wearable technology to help people stay fit and healthy, to communicate with. friends and family and to carry out everyday tasks. This does not need to be prescribed as part of medical treatment eg. fitness tracker.

Automated triage technology

More clinical triage apps and devices that use algorithms are being introduced. They are already used in primary medical services, both in the NHS and the independent sector to help with assessment and treatment. They are also being piloted in adult social care.

They are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), as they are considered medical devices. We do not directly regulate medical devices. However these devices impact on the safe and effective delivery of care. So we are working with others to determine how we will include them in our work.

 

Last updated:
14 November 2018

 


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