The need for connected technology to tell the full story of care

By David Lynes, CEO & Founder of Unique IQ

The story of care is a complex network, made up of everything from the mundane to the meaningful. From how someone takes their tea in the morning – with one sugar and splash of milk – to the complex cocktail of medications and lifesaving interventions that help them live the life that they want to lead. It’s this network of interactions, both big and small, that when pieced together, tell someone’s full story.

I’m a great believer in technology as the way to tell this full story. And that was a topic I explored when invited to speak at UK Care Week at the start of July. UK Care Week brings together the care community, addresses the biggest challenges facing the care sector, celebrates the talent of care workers and holds a collective voice for change.

I decided to use that platform for change to talk about the urgent need for connectedness in care technology.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a huge proliferation of technology use in the care sector, with over two-thirds of care agencies now using some form of care management software. That means we now have access to a staggering amount of client information and a much more complete picture of care than ever before.

But my concern is we may be on course to repeat the same mistakes of the past. To replicate the filing cabinets and document transportation of old paper systems in a digital format.

In the new digital world, much of the information we collect is still siloed. Locked-in systems, sometimes multiple systems from multiple providers, don’t talk to one another. So instead of rifling through sheets of paper, care managers are trying their best to download data, cross reference pdfs and pulls together reports that don’t necessarily make sense. The story can still be incomplete. Or fall apart altogether.

Collaboration, co-creation and coherent standards

To steer us away from this course and to build up a genuinely full picture of care, I put forward three things at UK Care Week: collaboration, co-creation and coherent standards.

  • Collaboration – all parties involved in care working together openly and honestly to build cohesive, connected, holistic networks for social care
  • Co-creation – care organisations and technology providers jointly create systems that are shaped around client needs
  • Coherent standards – guidelines at a national scale that promote joined-up approaches

The talk prompted some interesting questions and conversations, particularly around co-creation. One Local Authority I spoke to described a challenge they were facing with a care management system that was struggling to flex to suit their medication policy, creating a substantial amount of risk. It was a good example of co-creation not happening, and the need for systems to be built around care, rather than the expectation that care will fit the technology.

It was also encouraging to see the appetite from other software vendors, such as Anthropos and NDGAI, all keen to work in alignment around supporting person-centred care. Where focusing on enriching a person’s individual care story is more important than any technological goal.

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