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The role of technology in mending a broken healthcare system

The government’s new health and welfare tax has been hailed by some as a silver bullet for the UK healthcare system, but a look below the surface is only a short-term solution. The £ 36 billion investment generated by the new 1.25% levy sounds good in principle, but it is more like pouring a cup of water on a volcanic eruption and hoping the heat will subside.

This is only evident from a first look at some figures elsewhere. Local authorities that provide welfare will receive an average of around £ 11.6 million a year from 2022. However, with the average community health and welfare budget deficit set to be a staggering £ 14.3 million in 2022, this new investment is not even going to put you out of the red.

Since the new levy is primarily a recovery plan for the NHS, the social care sector will receive only £ 5.4 billion of the total investment. However, the reality is they will need £ 11 billion annually through 2024 to meet growing demand.

The increase in social security to finance the levy will also hit low-wage earners hardest. And in a low-wage sector where dwindling resources are a persistent and ingrained challenge, this has the potential to drive many caregivers to seek work elsewhere, exacerbated by the effects of Covid and Brexit.

A sticking plaster on an open wound

What health and social insurance contributions really fail is to address the systemic and long-term problems that are at the heart of our social welfare system. The government is throwing money into the problem without implementing the much-needed reforms that adequately address current problems in the sector such as low wages, human and hiring problems and unsuitable working conditions. Simply put, it’s a patch on a fatal wound that has little effect considering the need for transformation in the social sector.

The irony in the main focus of the health care levy is that social care is in many ways the guardian of the NHS. It helps people stay healthy and keep them away from the hospital. By caring for the majority of people outside the health system, those who actually need hospital treatment can be better cared for and the available beds can be used more efficiently.

Obviously, the urgency to improve health and social care capacities has not waned, and at some point it will be necessary to cut off the head of the serpent in order to realize a new and better future. Technology plays an important role here.

Social care technology is on the rise

Technology can play a huge role in restoring the broken health and social care sector by supporting better, more efficient ways of care. This is critical to not only improving the quality of care for those who receive it, but also to delivering the much-needed resources and cost savings for communities – benefits that NHS trusts are also feeling when considering the broader healthcare costs that come with it from . takes into account a long-neglected social system.

The good news is that change is imminent. Every week new, innovative solutions nibble on making a difference. We see a new generation of technology innovators come to the fore, with pilot projects reflecting real ingenuity and creative thinking in tackling the problems facing the industry.

For example, behavior-based remote monitoring technology combines data gleaned from in-house sensors with AI and ML to provide real-time data-based insights to care providers to better inform the decisions they make. This can be so simple that a caregiver or occupational therapist becomes aware that a person may be less mobile than previously thought, as evidenced by data from motion sensors in the house.

This knowledge enables them to recommend a clinical approach based on the data available to them – be it increasing the number of nursing visits or recommending physiotherapy. Looking ahead to that person’s future, acting early could prevent an incident such as slipping, tripping, or falling, which could have led to hospitalization and ultimately loss of independence. The benefits to the broader system are obvious here, with more efficient, evidence-based allocation of resources and bypassing the potentially costly emergency care for some people.

Equally important to these people are the benefits of using technology in a way that allows them to stay safe and independent in their own homes. It’s less disruptive, more evidence-based, and tailored to their needs to ensure they are receiving the best possible care. It also provides vital peace of mind for your loved ones. Currently, personal alarm technology is the most widely used solution to enable elderly people to alert their loved ones or caregivers to incidents, and these are often the most popular form of assisted living technology. But this form of reactive technology is limiting – it can only deliver value if an incident has already occurred. The future of care must see a shift from reactive to proactive solutions, and technology is at the heart of that.

Helping people live better longer

In sectors such as retail and hospitality, the use of technologies that provide real-time data insights has become de facto, offering a range of benefits from cost savings to more personalized consumer experiences. With that in mind, wider adoption of data-driven technologies can play an important role with local government and support from the NHS to fill the financial gap that remains long after the tax investment has waned by saving time and money on resources that are systemically overwhelmed.

While it can take a long time for major social welfare technology trends to emerge, there is a growing acceptance that technology can facilitate important operational changes. And with an aging population, a growth in people with self-limiting diseases, and the unprecedented far-reaching effects of diseases that we are only just beginning to understand, such as the industry in the near future, introducing new innovative solutions must be a priority. What we need to see now from the government is the recognition of this fact and more support, both financially and through political reform, for a care sector facing its greatest challenge.