Almost every day we are reminded in the national media about the pressures from the ageing population compounded by issues such as cuts to social care budgets, the living wage, the definition of working time and Brexit.
The idea of telecare as a way of extending independent living as long as possible is well recognised. However we believe that the current model of telecare will struggle to meet the scale of the challenge it now faces.
We have our own 6 point plan.
1. Build a consumer brand for smart homes
Telecare services are typically offered via councils and local authorities. It is not yet easy for consumers to access these products directly and they are often unaware that they exist. We want Howz to be available through the channels that people use everyday. We want it to be an attractive and trusted brand. We will not sell on fear.
2. Our prime customer is the older generation
People often assume that the primary customer for Howz is the family member. We always think of our primary customer as the older person - it is their home, their well-being, their security. We want to help them let their family know they are 'safe, warm and well' - not just the other way round.
We want Howz to be everything the older generation would want from a Smart Home.
3. Data not hardware
Connected or Smart Home hardware products are starting to flood the market. Re-using these products rather than specifying our own drives down costs and drives up reliability and availability. We want our customers to be able to 'bring their own hardware'. Once smart metering is well established we want our customers to go one better and 'bring their own data'.
4. Detection and prediction
Pendant alarms are the mainstay of today's telecare industry. These rely on the resident to trigger them once something serious has happened. Because they represent rare events - the data, even if collected - cannot be used to predict the future. We use streaming data to supplement the detection of emergencies as well as provide early warning of impending problems.
5. Involve the family
Today when an alarm is raised it is typically resolved via a contact centre. The family is often not even made aware. For us the family, including of course the wider circle of care, should be the primary point of contact.
6. Open systems
Telecare and telehealth systems are often described as 'walled gardens' or 'silos' where data cannot be shared with other systems. This is often for commercial reasons but is wrapped up in anxiety about data privacy. Through our work with the NHS we have a very deep understanding of the issues involved with Information Governance. We will use this knowledge to make it as easy as possible for our customers to share their Howz information safely and securely with other systems as they see fit.
We believe this open approach is the only way that digital health can ever reach its full potential. We will work with anyone to make it happen. If that's you we would love to hear from you.
The Howz team, 14th August 2017