Connected health How digital technology is transforming health and social care


Welcome to the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions report Connected health: How digital technology is transforming health and social care. Connected health or technology enabled care (TEC) is the collective term for telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, mHealth, digital health and eHealth services. TEC involves the convergence of health technology, digital, media and mobile telecommunications and is increasingly seen as an integral part of the solution to many of the challenges facing the health, social care and wellness sectors, especially in enabling more effective integration of care.

TEC seeks to improve people's ability to self-manage their health and wellbeing, alert healthcare professionals to changes in their condition and support medication adherence. For health and social care providers, it can help deliver safer, more efficient and cost-effective care. Digital technology is advancing exponentially and its cost is plummeting. At the same time the demand for and cost of healthcare is rising, which is challenging most health economies across the world. The need to adopt technology to help meet these challenges seems obvious, but healthcare continues to lag behind other industries in using technology with service users, in this case, patients and carers. This report analyses opportunities and barriers to the adoption of TEC based on extensive literature reviews, discussions with stakeholders and our work with commissioners, providers and technology companies. It focusses on the United Kingdom market but in a global context drawing on examples of good practice from the UK and other countries, including the United States, where many healthcare providers lead the field in their adoption of digital technology. The report considers the barriers to adoption, shifting dynamics between patients and clinicians, and how technology can help providers to work differently. The intention is to provoke discussion and offer readers examoles of solutions that mav fit their situation.

This report provides a current review of the ways in which digital technology is changing health and social care delivery, with an emphasis on the I-JK. Connected health, also known as technology-enabled care (TEC), involves the convergence of health technology, digital media and mobile devices. It enables patients, carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) to access data and information more easily and improve the quality and outcomes of both health and social care.

TEC is capable of providing cost-effective solutions at a time when the demands on health and social care services continue to increase due to the UK's growing and ageing population, the rising costs of advanced medical treatments, and severely constrained health and social care budgets. Indeed, wide scale adoption of TEC will be essential for sustaining the future health and social care system.

Opportunities for using mobile technology have improved in the last few years with the growing population of smartphone and tablet users in the I-JK, even among older age groups, supported by a proliferation of health apps, although only a few are currently being used extensively. Other notable developments are the availability of healthcare 'bio- sensing' wearables, such as digital blood pressure monitors and glucose sensors, and patient and provider access to real-time healthcare data and information. Additionally smartphones are incorporating a growing range of sensors which monitor changes in physiology.

However there are various barriers to the deployment of TEC: many of these were identified in a consultation exercise by the European Commission in 2014, with widespread concerns about issues such as quality, reliability, data overload, privacy and security. However, there are now fewer concerns about the cost-effectiveness of TEC due to the improving quality and reliability of devices and apps and the falling cost of digital technology.

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