How can technology help us to meet the needs of an ageing society?

12 July 2022

Angus Honeysett, Head of Market Access at Tunstall Healthcare discusses why it’s important for stakeholders to understand the benefits of technology and invest in digital solutions to support our ageing population and reduce pressures on our services.

Like most developed nations, the UK population is ageing; census data released by the ONS in June 2022 shows that 18.6% of the population is over 65  and that by 2030, one in five people in the UK (21.8%) will be aged 65 or over¹. 

But although we are living longer, we are not necessarily living more healthily. Long-term conditions like heart disease, diabetes and COPD are placing pressure on the UK’s health and social care services, accounting for 50% of all GP appointments and 70% of all hospital bed days. Treatment and care absorbs 70% of acute and primary care budgets in England.²

Angus Honeysett, Head of Market Access at Tunstall Healthcare discusses why it’s important for stakeholders to understand the benefits of technology and invest in digital solutions to support our ageing population and reduce pressures on our services.

A digital future 

Technology is not only reshaping our home and professional lives but also enabling people to live independently for longer. Devices that once seemed like science fiction are being used to support vulnerable people to live safer, healthier and more enjoyable lives.  

Relatively low-cost telecare systems can keep people at home, rather than increasing the burden on emergency care by automatically raising  calls for help if they sense someone has fallen; or alert a sleeping carer if the person they care for needs assistance. This 24 hour support can help to avoid hospital admissions, delay and prevent the need for residential care and also reduce carer burnout. 

Existing solutions can also support the health and social care system to  deliver more effective  services. For example, remote patient monitoring (RPM) enables clinicians to monitor trends, intervening early should they need to. This avoids the need for more complex care for those living with chronic conditions, such as ambulance call outs or hospitalisation.

The wider digital transformation and the application of data analytics is now seen as essential to the smarter management of day-to-day operations, allocation of resources, collaboration across teams and services and ultimately, better delivery of care. 

The key is collaboration 

Integration is a big challenge to consider in future projects for all stakeholders and service providers, but working together will ensure a seamless experience for all citizens. Greater collaboration means services are based on individual outcomes, that are designed from the outset, with real people in mind.

Barriers such as digital inequality, a lack of computer literacy and a non-favourable view of technology, compounds a lack of technology adoption. Working closely with local authority teams for example to deliver training can address any reluctance to adopt technology whilst encouraging stakeholders to drive discussions with service providers on the importance of integrating technology into care delivery. This in turn reduces anxiety, increases interest and improves the efficacy of services. 

With a willingness to change and adapt and the right education and digital frameworks in place, our services can become increasingly focussed on citizens, their choices, their health, and their care through the greater integration of technology. Working in partnership means that better services can be delivered for both the community and the citizen. 

Next steps

Technology has the ability to minimise the impact on already under-resourced statutory services through keeping people at home for longer, however stakeholders must understand its benefits and how to use it effectively. 

We must invest time in exploring existing and emerging technologies so that we can deliver cutting-edge services and shape care delivery for the future. It is in this context that the digital transformation can enable stakeholders to encourage innovative practice amongst care providers, designing services that  meet the needs of an ageing population whilst enabling new models of care to be developed and scaled up. 

Discover more about Tunstall Healthcare:

Tunstall has been at the forefront of technology innovation for the health, housing and social care markets for 65 years. Its pioneering software, hardware and services enable new delivery models which can transform services across the care continuum, and empower people to live independently and with an improved quality of life. 

Tunstall works with social care providers, healthcare services, housing and retirement living providers and charities in 19 countries, improving the lives of more than five million people, including those living with dementia, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and long-term health conditions. 

Tunstall’s innovation-led, person-centred Connected Care and Health solutions connect people and integrate services, enabling early intervention to avoid or mitigate adverse events, and improve outcomes. As technology advances, we have the capability to not just react to events, but to predict and even prevent them, using data-driven insights. The Tunstall Cognitive CareⓇ approach can help to create intelligent, personalised care programmes and effectively allocate resources, making sure those in need have the right levels of support and reassurance.

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