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 devices 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 uses connected, medical devices to deliver quality healthcare and includes software, such as health applications, and hardware including mobile diagnostics, remote
monitoring devices and wearables.
Telecare and telehealth – a game changer for health and social care , provided a synopsis of the evidence on the costs and benefits of traditional telecare and telehealth, explored the reasons for the limited adoption of this technology in the UK and identified solutions and international examples of good practice.
Globally, there are cultural and regulatory barriers to the adoption of TEC, the extent of which varies from country to country. However, the increasing capability and decreasing costs of the technology means that financial barriers are becoming less of a concern. The
focus of this report is on how developments in digital technology and associated devices can deliver TEC services and enable patients, carers and healthcare professionals to connect to information and data and improve quality and outcomes of health and social care. Population growth, increased longevity and more chronic conditions are increasing healthcare challenges.
The challenge for the future sustainability of healthcare systems is to find a balance between:
• constrained budgets and the rising costs of advanced medical treatments
• increasing complexity and costs of delivering care to an ageing, comorbid population
• increasing patient expectations and demand for better quality, patient-centred healthcare
• reduced availability and increased costs of HCPs, in-patient beds and residential care places.
There is a growing body of research showing that TEC, in particular mobile and digitally enabled technology, has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, increase
access and improve outcomes.
The power and reach of the technology can improve access, overcome geographic distance and shortages of HCPs, while providing a more versatile and personalised approach to healthcare. Use of mobile devices is increasing among all
age groups Although ownership of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices is increasing rapidly, their use has lagged in older populations, who are the largest users
of health and social care services.
Smartphone owners are being encouraged to exercise, lose weight and improve the monitoring and management of their health, via an astounding array of mobile health applications (apps), including a growing number of medical health apps.