Category Archives: Featured

TQG WORK TAKEN FORWARD THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR TELEMEDICINE & EHEALTH

The Telehealth Quality Group (TQG) is pleased to announce that its work, from April 2019, is being taken forward within the frame of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH www.isfteh.org).

The change is a natural move to make in view of the clear and shared objectives of the two bodies – around the promotion of appropriate and often innovative technologies and the support for quality standards around health service provision. It is prompted, in addition, by changed legal requirements for UK-registered European Economic Interest Groups (EEIGs) like the TQG. 

In the five years since its foundation, TQG has had a number of successes. Notable are

  • Platforms and presentations at events as widely spread as Edinburgh, London, Brussels, Luxembourg, Oslo, Brisbane and Sydney;
  • The major conference at Manchester University on ‘New Routes to Integrated Care: The Challenge of Assistive Technologies, Telehealth and Telecare’;
  • Establishing mutually supportive working relationships with DNVGL providing certification services and Global Community Resourcing  (Australia) promoting innovation in community health and care;
  • Developing and supporting a membership base of sixteen service provider, technology and research organisations;
  • Undertaking the review and helping to shape policy and practice for social alarms and telecare in the Republic of Ireland;
  • Being a key partner for the European Commission funded PROGRESSIVE project on standards around active and healthy ageing; and, crucially
  • Developing and maintaining the International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services (now the 2018/19 issue) that increasingly guides service provision.   

Under the umbrella of the ISfTeH the work of the TQG, including the International Code, will continue. Linked with this, the TQG Special Interest Group (SIG) that is developing protocols for on-line consultations will move ahead with new timescales for completion. Such work will be helped by ISfTeH’s knowledge-base and worldwide reach – with over 100 members in six continents. TQG members will be invited to transfer their membership to the ISfTeH and can look forward, therefore, to involvement in their working groups, conferences, webinars and more.

The TQG Directors, Malcolm Fisk, Frederic Lievens, Drago Rudel and Kevin Doughty would like to thank all those who have supported the TQG and its work. Given our global challenges, that work will, of course, carry on!

PROGRESSIVE PROJECT DRAWS TO A GREAT CONCLUSION

What an Adventure!

The TQG is delighted to have been part of the partnership, led by Dr Malcolm Fisk (De Montfort University), that secured European Commission funding in order to undertake research and to advocate around ‘Standards for ICT and Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA)’. The PROGRESSIVE project outputs, which will carry on through 2019, reflect the shared aspiration of partners (including four standards bodies) for progressive standards around ICT that, in the future, will give greater recognition to and be more and more inclusive of older people.  

Are Older People Overlooked?

There is no doubt about the importance of the work of PROGRESSIVE. Partners have boldly addressed what might be described as a ‘settled world’ – where formal standards are seen as offering frameworks to support commerce. In the context of the ‘Silver Economy’ this means that older people may often be treated as a ‘market’ – either for care services or as an asset rich group ripe for exploitation. The project asked, is the position of most older people, with the same rights as other adults (as workers, entrepreneurs, community activists and innovators) being overlooked by standards developers? Are older people being sidelined despite being 20% of Europe’s population?   

The answer is, at least in part, ‘yes!’ And a STAIR-AHA platform (a Standards, Innovation and Research body supported by CEN CENELEC) has been set up to take the work of PROGRESIVE forward! Indeed, at a joint PROGRESSIVE & STAIR meeting in Brussels on 31st January 2019 (see picture) a statement was agreed with over 60 participants, that standards bodies should, wherever relevant, revise their procedures and processes to ‘enable the participation of older people’s representatives as a relevant group of stakeholders’.

The world of standards will not, of course, change in a hurry. But the PROGRESSIVE project has been making waves. Take a look at the full statement, the PROGRESSIVE database of standards, the Newsletters and more (!)  on the PROGRESSIVE website at www.progressivestandards.org

FROM RED BUTTONS TO SMART TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT

An Introduction to a Future!

This is the most important book that you will read in 2019. It informs and challenges. It sets new benchmarks for telecare and telehealth and will whet your appetite for more! Kevin Doughty, the author, casts it as ‘an introduction to a future’ – with that future, harnessing the benefits of digital transformation, to be set out in Part 2 (expected in the autumn).

About Kevin Doughty

Kevin Doughty has a long and distinguished record with regard to telecare –within industry and academia. He is a Director of the Telehealth Quality Group and a Visiting Professor in Digital Transformation of Care Services at the University of Cumbria. His innovations and enterprises range from early work at Bangor University and his spinout company ‘Technology in Healthcare’, to Tunstall Telecom and, more recently, T-Cubed (the Telecare Think Tank www.t-cubed.co.uk).   

What’s in the book?

The author positions the book as a ‘resource manual for everyone from front-line care and support staff through to managers, commissioners and families’ adding that ‘different groups can use it in different ways’. The families, of course, include the users – who stand to be the biggest beneficiaries – subject to the technologies being configured in ways that wherever appropriate help them to become more equal partners in their own care.

The scope of the book is truly immense. In its 250 pages it explores issues for health and care service providers (from frailty to sight loss); the technologies themselves (from fall detectors to robotic pets); and, of course, the choices and options available to both providers and users.   

The book has a value hugely in excess of £13.75  It is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1790189659

MODERNISING SOCIAL ALARMS AND TELECARE

A CONSPIRACY OF WHISPERS?

In its current issue, Australian Ageing Agenda features an article by Dr Malcolm Fisk that focuses on the modernisation of social alarms and telecare. His attention is first given to the issue of cybersecurity (important in anyone’s book). But the key message is not so much about how social alarms and telecare technologies are ‘out of date’ and vulnerable to cyber attacks; rather it is about our opportunity to develop new service frameworks, based on digital networks, that enable people to access health and support services in new ways.

Central to the new service frameworks is the way that people can be empowered through access wider opportunities for education and work, entertainment, social networking and public engagement. Linked with this is the extent to which we can all increase our health knowledge and play a greater part in the management of our health.

But as we approach necessary (and inevitable) changes in service frameworks, Malcolm argues (for the UK and Australia) that there is a ‘conspiracy of whispers’ for fear of upsetting that minority of service providers, manufacturers and suppliers that do not see the opportunity.

Key messages focus on the need for the further improvement of our broadband networks – and, of course, to be cyber-aware as we harness the linked potential. For inspiration, he suggests, we should look to Scotland … to which we should add the Scandinavian countries who are several steps further ahead. More than this, he notes, the new service frameworks are supported through the Telehealth Quality Group’s 2018/19 International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services.

The full article is accessible here 

TQG PLAYS A KEY PART IN MAJOR BRUSSELS WORKSHOP

TQG PLAYS A KEY PART IN MAJOR BRUSSELS WORKSHOP

The TQG, as workpackage leaders and partners in the European Commission funded PROGRESSIVE project played a key part in presenting to and leading a major Brussels workshop with over 80 participants. The Workshop took place at the CEN CENELEC Management Centre on October 19th 2017 and addressed the challenge of

Making ICT Standards ‘Fit’ for Active and Healthy Ageing

The event focused on a number of areas including telehealth, telecare and assistive technologies. These featured strongly in two of the presentations – from Diane Whitehouse (Principal eHealth Policy Analyst of EHTEL, the European Health Telematics Association) and Ester Sarquella Casellas (Business Development Director for Digital Health of Tunstall Healthcare, Spain).

Other ‘standout’ presentations included those of Christoph Klein and Inmaculada Placencia (both from the European Commission), Marlou Bijlsma (NEN, the Dutch standards body) and Viviane von Döllen from Stëftung Hëllef Doheem (who manage telecare and home care services in Luxembourg). And Robert Turpin (BSI) reported on the initiative through ISO to start a Technical Committee on ‘Ageing Societies’.

The presentations were supplemented by workshops that help plan the forward view for standards development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The presentations together with a report of the event, are accessible via the PROGRESSIVE website at www.progressivestandards.org .

  • Co-Production: Involving and Engaging Older People
  • Age-Friendly ICT Products and Services
  • Smart Homes
  • Telehealth, Telecare and Assistive Technologies
  • Interoperability

The event marked the launching of the project’s interactive database that gives access to information on standards from robotics to retirement; and from telecare to transport. It has helped in very important ways to set the project ‘on course’ for its final year of work – throughout which it will continue to change mindsets about ageing in the world of ICT.

NHS FRAMEWORK FOR TECS: SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES

The Telehealth Quality Group (TQG) has been very pleased to support NHS Shared Business Services in developing its Framework Agreement for TECS (Technology Enabled Care Services). The TQG was a key proponent of the division of ‘lots’ as follows:

Lot 1: Electronic Assistive Technologies

Lot 2: Alarm Technologies and Services

Lot 3: Continuous Monitoring Services

Lot 4: Scheduled Remote and On Demand Services

We congratulate all the successful manufacturers or service providers. These include the following that were successful in two or more of the ‘lots’:

Broomwell Healthwatch (www.broomwellhealthwatch.com)

Philips Electronics (www.philips.co.uk)

Safe Patient Systems (www.safepatientsystems.com)

Tunstall Healthcare UK (www.tunstall.co.uk)

Welbeing (www.welbeing.org.uk)

Others companies ‘in the mix’ can be found at https://www.sbs.nhs.uk/ica-technology-enabled-care-services. All have had to navigate their way through a tough qualifying process and deserve their place on the Framework. Providers of telecare and telehealth services are encouraged to use it!

Of note is the fact that the new Framework meets outcome requirements for both the NHS and Adult Social Care. It embraces a wide range of telehealth domains (including telecare and social alarms) and it supports personalised approaches to care. Significantly, the Framework cites the TQG’s International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services as representing an important quality benchmark for that range of services. The International code can be downloaded from this website.

Note: The TQG has also been very pleased to work with Pobal (Republic of Ireland) on matters that relate to the procurement of telehealth (including telecare) technologies and services. Information regarding this work is provided in an earlier ‘News Item’ – this also giving access to the full report.

CROSS-BORDER HEALTHCARE SERVICES: ONLINE SURVEY

ANEC: the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation (anec.eu) is researching how people use healthcare services when they are abroad in European (and other) countries. You are invited to complete a short on-line survey that asks about your views and experience – whether the healthcare services you used were planned or unplanned. The link takes you to the first question – http://which.focusvision.com/survey/selfserve/53b/170805# Please respond before the deadline of 10th September 2017.

 

The work is being led by Julie Hunter (www.juliehunter.co.uk) and supervised, on behalf of ANEC, by Dr Malcolm Fisk (Telehealth Quality Group). It will fill a gap in our knowledge about such services and the health sectors that they operate in. Outcomes (published by ANEC) will include an appraisal of existing regulations around ‘medical tourism’ and ‘emergency medical care’ and will offer pointers to inform the development of future standards for the EU.

DIGITAL HEALTHCARE: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE

NEW BOOK REVIEW

book

CHAMBERS, SCHMID AND BIRCH-JONES, OTMOOR PUBLISHING 2016

 

The Foreword aptly describes this volume as an ‘immensely practical book cum workbook’. It fulfils this role well – in a context of rapid technological change where the imperatives that drive moves towards more integrated service frameworks in the UK are clearly recognised.

Half the book comprises chapters on topics from telecare and telehealth to apps and social media. The other chapters address such matters as the challenges of overcoming barriers to change, improving uptake and undertaking service evaluations. Overall, therefore, as well as providing a practical guide (for professionals or practitioners) the book offers an ‘eye-opener’ on current developments for a wider readership. But be warned that, as perhaps befits a book that arrives at a time of rapid change, there remain some questions that could have justified a wider airing – the most notable of which relates to the way in which health and personal data can and will be safeguarded in our new world of ‘digital healthcare’.

Arguably the first and clearest ‘positive’ is the book’s exposition of the merits of different telehealth initiatives. Most notably these relate to apps and the laudable contribution that ‘Flo’ is making within an increasing number of UK telehealth and telecare services. Flo is the telehealth text messaging service that gives support to and helps people to take a fuller role in the management of their long-term conditions. There are several pointers in the book to the benefits of Flo in terms of individual well-being and cost savings to the NHS. The implied message is that, in the context of change for our health service frameworks, we overlook the potential of such technologies at our peril!

A second positive relates to the adoption, by the book, of a people (or patient)-driven, rather than technology-driven, perspective. This recognises the imperative for us all, regardless of our age, around the responsibility we must take to be better, and more informed, partners in our health. It is pleasing to note, in this context, the nod to the Telehealth Quality Group’s ‘International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services’ as a reference point and a benchmark for the telehealth services with which the book is concerned.

A further positive is the book’s inclusion of or pointers to and inclusion of a substantial range of resources (practice examples, case studies and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of digital health). The message is that there is ample information ‘out there’ about the benefits of different kinds of telehealth (and telecare related) interventions and that we must re-double our efforts to overcome the barriers that thwart or constrain service changes and developments.

It is of some disappointment (but not detracting from the positives noted above) that the book doesn’t take a clear position on the overlapping definitions around telehealth, eHealth, telecare and digital health. Rather, it chooses to use the term TECS (Technology Enabled Care Services) as a ‘catch-all’ – that maybe should have been in the title.

Overall, therefore, a practical and worthwhile book that is very relevant to the world of TECS in England, offers lessons for a wider readership, and will help in setting the direction of telehealth and related services.

Dr Malcolm J Fisk – August 2016