Government’s commitment to health and social care transformation must include affordable connectivity for communities, finds report

The new prime minister’s bold and welcomed promise to transform health and social care must include investment in affordable connectivity for neighbourhoods if it’s to have a meaningful impact, a report published today finds.

The report: How can 5G support the transformation of health and social care services? A joint report between techUK and the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care looks at how digitalisation and emerging technologies like 5G can transform the health and social care sector.

The report suggests the health and social care sector could benefit first from 5G and ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) technologies. An ageing population (39% of us will be 65+ by 2036*), less money to care for people with conditions like diabetes and heart disease and the switch off of analogue telehealth services in 2022, means the need for digital transformation is well documented.

However, Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care who co-wrote the report, says people in the UK’s deprived communities who could benefit most from new health technologies could miss out. That’s because they can’t always afford the reliable internet connection that’s needed to support new technologies that could help them manage long-term health conditions at home.

Rosemary Kay, Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Project Lead explains: “This is a key point in the history of health and social care, we have the chance to usher in changes that could transform people’s lives for the better. Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care testbed has developed new technologies like Safehouse Sensors, which monitor patterns of behaviour in vulnerable people so a carer can visit when needed. Technologies like these support people to live independently at home for longer – where we know they retain their independence and recover faster than in hospital. To take advantage of these technologies you need a fast and reliable wireless connection that supports a larger amount of data and not everybody can afford one. To overcome this issue in Kensington, where we’re running the project, we’ve provided a free community intranet connection to volunteers taking part in the project. It means the technology they rely on to take their medicine and connect with people isn’t going to fail them.”

She added: “If we’re serious about harnessing technology to create a sustainable and effective health and social care sector, we need to make the link between the affordability of connectivity and access for everyone. If we fail to make this link, the poorest communities will continue to miss out on the opportunities technology can offer them.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care is funded by Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of their Testbed and Trials programme. The health technologies created by the project include:
Safehouse Sensors, which are installed in homes to detect falls, changes in temperature and unusual behaviour patterns.
The Loneliness Gaming and Quizzing App
PAMAN, which provides a video link to a local pharmacy, helping people to take medicines at home safely.
‘Push to Talk’ a loneliness app for isolated carers, which puts them in touch with other carers in a similar position

These applications all rely on a 5G style technology for its durability, speed and increased data transfer to provide a consistent service for patients. The project has also designed a new ‘Adoption Readiness Level’ (ARL) tool, which has helps the project team better understand how useful and easily adopted health technologies are by the health and social care services using them.

Sophie Weston, from techUK, agrees that connectivity is the key to sector transformation:

“Great digital connectivity is crucial for the UK and is essential to enable the adoption of enhanced technologies and applications that can help create a more open digital economy that works for everyone.

“The enhancement that 5G can bring to sectors such a manufacturing, logistics, transport, and healthcare will revolutionise our lives. We should be looking forward to the opportunities that 5G can bring and the way that this technology can help with our health, in hospital and at home.

“techUK is delighted to be collaborating with Liverpool 5G to highlight the importance of 5G technologies and applications within health and social care.”

Liverpool 5G Consortium

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care, led by Sensor City includes Blu Wireless Technology, AIMES, DefProc, CGA Simulation, EHealth Cluster, Liverpool City Council, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT), Liverpool University, Liverpool John Moores University), The Medication Support Company, Safehouse and Protelhealth.

Liverpool 5G products
1.Telehealth in a box: improved communication between hospital and community 2.Cloud based clinical mobility: using 5G to accelerate mobile solutions. 3.New innovative hospital (RLBUHT) providing test bed for SMEs. 4: PAMAN: pharmacy to home video link 5.IoT home sensor: helping people live independently at home. 6.’Push to Talk’: reducing loneliness in care settings. 7. Loneliness gaming/quiz app: connecting people to talk and play. 8.Analytics/research (TAE/TRE) environment with access for researchers/analysts across the UK. 9. Chromatic cameras in home care settings: predict falls and unusual patterns of behaviour in older people. 10.Optimise access and use of 5G networks between multiple IoT devices

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