Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy and Consulting, Future Care Capital

Whether we’re talking about data-driven apps and services, the deployment of new materials or developments in robotics, new and emergent technologies are set to radically transform the future of health and care – with the global health tech market estimated to be worth £43bn by 2018.

We know that it’s challenging to keep up with technological advancements and want to help increase understanding of their potential as well as enhance pertinent skills amongst service commissioners, providers and users. So, over the coming months, Future Care Capital will publish a series of articles from the team and relevant experts, and engage in practical prototyping to help demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’.

We will also publish a dedicated policy paper later this year about how data can help unify health and care provision. It was, therefore, timely that I received an invitation to attend ‘Unlocking the Potential of Data in Social Care’ – a conference organised by the National Care Forum and KareInn at London’s Digital Catapult last week – which brought together technology champions and leading-edge data-driven care service developers.

Presentations included thought-provoking contributions from:

  • IoTUK’s Idris John, who talked about the two NHS test-beds currently making use of the internet-of-things to support people with dementia and diabetes;
  • Dawn Ahukanna, who introduced IBM’s Watson and the need to move ‘from big data to big synthesis’ (so that we generate answers to questions that we haven’t even thought about asking!); and

Annemarie meets Pepper, an adult social care robot companion, at the Unlocking the Potential of Data in Social Care Conference.

It was particularly inspiring to hear from pioneering residential care providers to understand the benefits that are already flowing from thoughtful applications of technologies to improve care service design and delivery for end-users.

Having worked with central government and the third sector to improve transparency through improved access to data, I think more needs to be done to prevent the lack of data standards, interoperability and data sharing from impacting the scope for big care data to deliver benefits in future. So, it was encouraging to hear talk of a ‘data-driven inspection model’ from the CQC on the day which, we assume, will take advantage of provisions in the Digital Economy Bill, once enacted, and consult upon a truly forward-thinking Code of Practice when the time comes.

Government and regulators should also work to instil the confidence and skills that the sector needs to make the most of technologies in this space, and support the evolution of existing business models to help providers finance technological integration in existing care facilities.

As ever, what matters most is how technologies will positively benefit people from the point of view of lived experience, and the message from the day was clear: data-driven care services can improve outcomes for service users as well as confer a competitive advantage upon the care providers that develop them. We look forward to working with you to deliver against that potential.