Automation and a possible future for health and social care

As the DF programme winds down, this will be my final blog post. It takes some of the ideas that Sharon Davies and I first shared at the Housing Technology 2018 conference, and applies them to the wider field of social care.

The acquisition of the Dell Boomi integration platform has opened up a vast range of possibilities by allowing us to automate business processes based on things that have happened, or are likely to happen (this is known as event-driven architecture).

Before going into more detail, I am conscious that automation is often seen as a way of getting rid of jobs – anyone familiar with Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano knows how badly that might end, if taken to its logical conclusion! However, if new technology is used to add new capabilities, and to enhance human work (making it more effective and efficient, rather than simply replacing people) – that is where the real benefits of innovation are to be found.

The diagram below (large version here) shows how this could be applied to health and social care in the future.

ASC event driven architecture v0.5 2019-03-24

 

Connected digital health devices (for example, blood pressure monitors) transmit data to an IoT platform (essentially, a data storage area). The integration platform can be programmed with business rules which are triggered by changes in this data. These business rules create actions – these can be things like mobile notifications, health visits, cases and tasks.

A simple health scenario could be:

An elderly citizen takes their blood pressure every morning. The reading is uploaded to the IoT platform. The integration platform picks up the new data and writes it directly to their NHS patient record. As a result, the GP saves time which would otherwise be spent taking blood pressure and doing data entry.

A more complex health scenario could be:

A series of blood pressure readings indicate an increase of 20% in BP over one month. The integration platform notices the pattern and creates an appointment for the resident with a nurse practitioner to carry out further investigations. As a result, the risk of a stroke or heart attack for that citizen is greatly reduced – and of course, the cost of prevention is very much lower than the cost of treating someone with a stroke or a heart attack!

It’s easy to see the potential for savings just from these two examples. The transformation work currently taking place in adult social care at the council should be able to apply these principles to our excellent Carelink Plus service, among other areas, as it replaces older technology with newer, connected health and monitoring devices.

Finally, I just wanted to say that it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with such a lovely, talented and motivated group of colleagues, and I wish the council all the best for the (hopefully non-dystopian) future. If you’d like to keep in touch, you can find me on LinkedIn here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying cool with Agile

Housing Technology presentation DF with hot weather

You may remember an earlier post about the environmental sensors we have installed in one of our sheltered housing developments. We had intended these sensors to measure high humidity and unusually low temperatures, in order to prevent the development of black mould, increased vulnerability to infections and also to detect early signs of fuel poverty.

However, elderly and vulnerable residents are also at risk when it gets really hot – just as it did during the July heatwave, which now seems like an increasingly distant memory! Towards the end of July, the system which captures the sensor data showed that a small number of flats were experiencing temperatures which never dropped below 27°C, even at night – very uncomfortable and potentially hazardous. We were able to alert the scheme manager, who immediately visited the affected residents and was able to offer advice and support for keeping cool.

Of course, the beauty of the Agile Method is that we are able to respond quickly to new requirements. In collaboration with the integration team in IT&D, we re-prioritised our work for the next sprint, creating a new business rule on our integration platform, Dell Boomi. In future, when temperatures exceed a certain threshold over an extended period, this will automatically create a task in our case management system, iCasework, and assign it to the relevant care worker. We have also successfully tested this approach using the API provided by the GOV.UK Notify service, which will generate SMS and emails containing the information needed by the care worker.

It’s early days yet as we understand better what our new technology can do, but it’s looking very promising.

Housing Technology 2018

Sharon Davies (from Housing) and I were speakers recently at the Housing Technology 2018 conference in Oxford (#housingtech2018).

 

 

We were talking about the council’s pilot project for Internet of Things (IoT) devices in social housing.  We will be able to assess the effects of building improvement works by measuring temperature and humidity levels before, during and after the work.

We also touched upon event-driven architecture (where business rules in our integration platform can trigger tasks, cases or alerts), and a forthcoming mobile app for those residents taking part in the pilot. The app will allow residents to see temperature and humidity levels inside and outside their flats.

Thank you to our lovely audience, who chose to come and see us – there were many other options available during our timeslot – and asked some great questions.

I’ve added a video of our slides – please do get in touch with me if you have any more questions about the project. You can email me at neil.cholerton@brighton-hove.gov.uk .