Alvolution, NHS West Midlands and the Joint Improvement Partnership have launched a comparison website that reviews a wide range of UK telecare and telehealth products. Sharon Ross, for NHS Telford and Wrekin said: “…The information it provides is independent and non-commercial so it can be relied upon to be credible. Gone are the hours of horizon scanning on Google.” The site aims to give health professionals with access to impartial reviews of technology, to see what is available, what functionality it provides, how it compares and whether it is recommended. [By whom?] It also allows users to search by condition, scenario or technology. The technology on the site is in divided into several categories including communication aids, environmental control, physical aids telehealth and telecare. British Journal of Healthcare Computing & Information Management report and Alvolution comparison website. [We wonder what the suppliers make of it, and what action can they take if they don’t like the reviews and recommendations. At least they can get their products listed free of charge. (PDF)]
Although this is probably the best on-line product catalogue that I’ve ever seen for this sector, it is heavily weighted towards expensive telehealth products. I can see it being useful for PCT commissioners who must try to differentiate between dozens or very similar product offerings – but, other than being a useful look-up resource for standard telecare alarm items and aids to daily living, it’s not going to be much help to those of us who need to find different products to match the complex support needs of people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities, for example. What we need is someone being prepared to give opinion on what works well and what should be avoided at all costs. It wont be popular with vendors – but neither will a reputation for selling kit that will end up on the shelf.
I can understand the frustrations of Jo, but also the problems associated with providing independent and technically credible opinion on such a wide range of products.
When the T-Cubed Telecare Equipment Prescription Resource is launched next month (in association with myself and CUHTec members), I think that this will address many of these concerns as far as providing objective information is concerned.
This is because it will include regular Product Group Comparison Reports which use a panel of relevant experts and end-users to score devices in areas such as usability, maintainability and aesthetic appeal, as well as in functionality. However, it will focus very clearly on products that could be used in a telecare service (whether connected or standalone) – and which might then be relevant to achieving the desired outcomes.
We expect that the availability of expert on-line resources, supported by appropriate training and access to industry specialists, will give more prescribers the confidence to offer excellent telecare packages to more service users. By promoting a wider range of innovative products in services, more risks will be managed and more of the unmet needs will be satisfied. This should lead to significant benefits for all stakeholders