Guest article: Rising challenges call for healthcare tech-solutions to lead through uncharted territory
Whilst the nation is continuing to support the NHS by staying home to stay safe, the Government has challenged the technology sector to innovatively support the country through current, unprecedented times.
Healthcare technology needs to be deployed to help the elderly and vulnerable to remain safe at home, and where beneficial and safe, tech should be utilised to accelerate the discharge of patients from hospital to home.
Tunstall Healthcare has responded by developing three new solutions; Tunstall Response, Tunstall Connect and Tunstall Integrated Care Platform. Tunstall Healthcare’s Managing Director Gavin Bashar discusses the current situation and the role its telehealth solutions are playing.
“Tunstall has always played a role in helping to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and reduce pressures on statutory services by enabling people to be safe at home and in the community. Considering the COVID-19 outbreak, we have examined ways we can go further to do even more to help our customers and the people they support,” he explains.
“As a result, we have developed a range of new propositions to help Local Authorities, Housing Associations and their community alarm monitoring centres to continue to deliver their vital services, alleviating pressure and supporting critical areas of the healthcare system whilst we fight the pandemic.”
Tunstall’s primary propositions during the COVID-19 outbreak either support individuals in the care system directly, or provide solutions for NHS, Local Authorities and Housing Associations, says the organisation.
Its software, hardware and services aim to enable new delivery models designed to transform community-based health and social care by providing remote support which enables people to live independently and with an improved quality of life.
Gavin explains that Tunstall is now harnessing its expertise and resources to offer increased support to older and vulnerable people as they self-isolate and shield at home, alleviating pressure on social services and the NHS.
“The Tunstall Response proactive call service utilises our existing community alarm service, which enables older and vulnerable people throughout the UK to easily get help in an emergency, using a home unit and worn pendant which connects them to a 24-hour response centre,” he continues.
“Through regular outbound calls, operators can check in, offer advice and appropriately escalate any deterioration in wellbeing to other service providers, particularly where people are in self-isolation or at high risk from COVID-19. We’re also introducing a smart device app, Tunstall Connect, which can enable Tunstall Response to keep in touch with vulnerable people who are self-isolating, without the need for a traditional community alarm system.”
The Tunstall Integrated Care Platform enables sophisticated remote health monitoring, according to the company. Clinicians can then remotely review the data via an online portal, using a colour coded dashboard to identify the patients most in need of intervention.
The solution is proven to support management of chronic illness, states Gavin, as well as providing support for patients recently discharged from hospital and helping to prevent readmission by identifying deterioration at an early stage.
“For people at high risk because of a long-term condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease for example, the Tunstall Integrated Care Platform enables remote health monitoring,” he adds.
“Patients download an app which allows them to record vital signs readings and answer health questionnaires at home – plus, we have recently introduced specific COVID-19 and self-isolation questionnaires in response to the current crisis.
“Technology solutions from Tunstall Healthcare can greatly reduce the pressure on the NHS by enabling social care and housing providers to support people effectively at home. They can prevent admission to hospital by reducing the impact of self -isolation and mitigating the adverse effects of incidents such as falls by enabling a rapid response. Systems can also be deployed as part of a package of care to enable people to be discharged from hospital more quickly, freeing up vital hospital beds.
“As COVID-19 presents the worst public health crisis for a generation, technology can not only help to address some of the immediate challenges presented by the current emergency, but can also provide a robust platform for future health and care delivery, connecting people to enable more proactive and preventative care and ensuring a resilient network is already in place should we ever face such a crisis again.”
Established over 60 years ago, Tunstall was the first to create the familiar red button and pull cord emergency response systems, often known as community alarms. Since then, it has continued to pioneer technology that has improved the lives of millions of people around the world, including those living with dementia, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and long-term health conditions.
The company works closely with Local Authorities across the UK, providing them with technology systems which enable people to easily get help from a specialist community alarm monitoring centre in an emergency, 24 hours a day. Where councils don’t have their own monitoring centre, Tunstall Response can monitor citizens on their behalf.
 Staying at home and avoiding contact with others will be absolutely necessary in reducing the spread of this virus and ultimately it will save lives. However, we know isolation is not easy – especially for older people, those who live alone, have mental health problems or those who care for others. If people cannot leave the house, we need to quickly find ways to bring support to them and today I am calling on the strength of our innovative technology sector to take on this challenge.” Matt Hancock, 23 March 2020