The Symptom of All Symptoms

Paul Samuel, CEO of personal medical support service Tag Care, discusses how new technology can help us to keep vulnerable people safe in a personal and dignified way.

We are moving into a new era, where the number of vulnerable people is continually increasing. We are living longer but not always better and it can sometimes seem that the number of recognised illnesses increases in proportion with the number of drugs, cures and Wikipedia articles, rather than the other way around.

There is a plethora of gadgets and soſtware available to deal with these issues. In fact, there appears to be a race on to produce the best app or device for diabetics, cardiac sufferers, stroke sufferers and many other conditions.

Every dangerous or threatening illness is now big business but I respectfully suggest this movement towards multiple tech cures is heading in the wrong direction. Ultimately, technology does not ‘care’, only people can do that.

When we created, our health and safety platform, we did not attempt to replace human care with a technological equivalent. We decided instead to address one illness only, but one that is without doubt the biggest killer and the granddaddy of almost all symptoms, the ‘symptom of symptoms’.

I am not going to tell you what it is yet! You might stop reading…

Now, what are the key components of a truly useful modern health and safety platform? Let’s take a look.

• Dignity for the Vulnerable Person(VP) - Too many devices demean the VP. They identify them as ‘vulnerable’ and discourage them from using the service. The service should be near invisible, except perhaps where a paramedic ‘needs to know’.

• Self-help - Health Services, in particular the NHS, are clearly overstretched. They need our help. Systems that allow family and carers to support vulnerable people without the necessity of NHS integration or intervention get a green tick.

Low tech - Rather than use new, untrusted and complex technology, using commonly accepted and proven technology, say mobile phones and occasionally NFC tagged devices, are another positive.

• Available to all – Sometimes the best healthcare is something that only rich folk can afford. A health and safety service with all its features should cost a reasonable monthly fee.

• Expanding functionality – The service should adapt and grow with added features that serve social and health

- 14 - needs with no additional cost where possible.

• Useful messaging to carers and VPs – parties should be able to receive clear messaging giving assurance and warning and alarms where occasionally required.

• The platform should be distributable through trusted organisations such as care homes or pharmacies.

Now, it is no coincidence that our health and safety platform complies with all of these. Obviously, as one of the founding directors, my words (approved by my co-founder) represent the foundation of our platform. But what is the mystery disease, the 'symptom of symptoms' that we address?

In this modern information age, we are bombarded with so many health-related terror snippets that the biggest killer has now become worry.

I’ll give an example. Let’s say I have a condition such as type 1 diabetes. I, like most men, will downplay my condition. In fact, because I have lived with it for many years, I am somewhat blasé about it.

The people who are NOT blasé about it are my family, in particular my children. They will worry all the time, and the less I worry the more they do.

Wouldn’t it be great if I used an app or tech that was easy and discrete for me to use and put my children’s minds at rest?

You see, it is not detecting an incident or anticipating an incident that is the goal. These incidents rarely happen. It is the WAITING in between times where the worry festers, and it is in those gaps when those who love us suffer.

So, in brief, the seven points I mentioned come down to a desire to stop those we love worrying about us.

Whether it’s a relative who is a lone adventurer, a remote worker or an older relative at risk; most of us always have someone we worry about.

The real disease is this worry. A platform that purports to address these known issues, and the inevitable new issues that grow as inbound information increases, is what a real health-and-safety solution should be.

Two years ago, that is what my co-founder and I decided to develop and distribute through care homes and pharmacies.

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