Technology is set to revolutionise care, report says

By Leila Hawkins
The health and social care sectors face rapid change in the post-COVID ‘new normal...

A new report from Barclays Corporate Banking states that technology will transform the health and social care sectors, adding that care homes need to adapt and evolve to make sure they're not left behind. 

The report, titled 'Stepping out of the shadows: Social care prepares for a digital future', found that in the period between 2018 and 2019, more than 250 care homes went out of business, although the number of requests for social care funding went up 5.7%. Additionally the research noted that the UK population is ageing, and by 2043 it's estimated that the numberof people aged over 65 will increase by 43%. 

In addition to this, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed an additional strain on the healthcare sector and magnified existing pressures.

Despite these challenges, the Barclays report indicates that the pandemic presents an opportunity for systemic transformation in healthcare. The report suggests that The Internet of Things, for example, could create greater synergy between systems by reducing the issues that cause inefficiency and increase costs.

Covid-19 has significantly increased interest in digital communications and technology, with four out of five people saying that technology has been a vital support during the lockdown period. The number of over-70s required to self-isolate and use technology to order essential items like groceries, manage their banking, and communicate with family and friends increased significantly in this period. This means the social care population of the future will be far more digitally-savvy than previous ones. 

Barclays' report says that this familiarity with technology will help support the shift from healthcare being something patients access when they’re sick, to something that can support healthy lifestyles and mental and physical wellness. In a care home setting, this more proactive approach can alert staff before problems become serious, and for those living independently it can provide reassurance that their wellbeing is being closely monitored.

The roll-out of new assistive technologies like wearable sensors, vital sign monitors and stress level trackers can aid greater independence and improve the experience of care at home or in residential settings, the study says. Additionally, a switch to digital by healthcare providers will also boost connectivity within individual and care homes, allowing for more responsive, data-driven development of care.

"The sector is waking up to the potential that technology offers to create better, more effective and efficient care for residents/users and deliver real business benefits for providers" Steve Fergus, Head of Healthcare for Barclays Corporate Banking said.  

“Sharing information about the potential of technology and these opportunities with providers, individuals and local authorities, is an important part of the UK social care debate. Connecting our clients with what is possible in the world of social care can help initiate conversations and deliver real change.”


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