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TECHNOLOGY & SOFTWARE


A Decade of Digital


David Lynes, CEO & Founder of Unique IQ, reflects on ten years of transformation in the sector and the impact technology has had on day-to-day care delivery.


If you were to take yourself back to 2010, how different do you think the care sector might look today?


It was the year the very first iPad became available, selling 300,000 units on day one. ‘App’ was voted ‘Word of the Year’ by the American Dialect Society and Microsoſt launched its cloud computing platform, Azure. All pieces of tech that are now cornerstones of everyday life, including within the care sector.


Here at Unique IQ, we have been taking a look back over the last decade in home care. We wanted to understand how care delivery has changed over this period of time.


For this new piece of research, called ‘Transform’, Unique IQ analysed some 40m anonymised records from our care management soſtware. We studied visit quantities and durations, and client and carer numbers, alongside usage of our different technology features – such as our mobile app, eMAR and digital forms.


We found some interesting initial trends in how care services are operating. For example, the care workload has increased, with care workers now looking aſter 14% more people than they did in 2016. But the pace of growth is unequal – client numbers have increased by 26%, while carer numbers have only increased by 20%. This is a known workforce issue of course, and one where technology could really help. As Professor Martin Green of Care England said recently: “As a sector, we have to give care staff the


- 34 -


giſt of time, and technology is the cornerstone to providing this greater freedom.”


We also observed diversification in visit patterns and care services. There are far more instances of longer visits now, those lasting more than 12 and 24 hours, as care types such as live-in care become more widespread. Meanwhile, the 15-minute visit, while still present, accounted for less than 1% of all visits.


Our early adopters aside, we found a gradual shift towards technology, nudged along by new guidance from the Care Quality Commission. Uptake was slow for most of the last decade, not really picking up any pace until halfway through 2019.


It was around this time that we saw the number of tasks and medications being processed by our mobile app double, continuing on an exponential growth curve ever since (digital tasks are the equivalent of the paper activity log). As of March 2021, we now process 42x more medications and 148x more digital tasks than we did two years ago (with our own and our clients’ growth accounted for).


This spike in digitisation aligned with the CQC’s first set of guidance on using technology in care. In July 2019, the regulator shared a set of case studies it had observed during inspections of care services as examples of innovation, with


www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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