New dallas research identifies health technology awareness gap in the UK

The UK leads the way in home health and care technology, but public awareness remains low

New research released today by dallas, a flagship project enabling smarter, more-independent living through assistive technology and digital services, has identified a significant ‘health technology awareness gap’ in the UK.

More than 90% of people are unaware of what are known as ‘telehealth’ and ‘telecare’ technologies, despite their benefits being at the top of most individuals’ personal health and care priorities, as well as the positive experiences reported by users themselves.

There is obviously a significant awareness gap among the general public when it comes to health and care technologies and how they may support people to remain healthy, independent and happier for longer in their own home

Despite the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, health and care apps on mobile devices also have low levels of awareness, with just 27% of people conscious of their availability. A Technology Strategy Board-funded project, dallas (Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale) also found that the UK is at the forefront of health, care and wellbeing expertise, with two thirds of people unable to name another country more technologically advanced when it comes to health and care.

While the awareness gap presents a problem in light of the ever-ageing population and increasingly-stretched health and care resources, more than two thirds (67%) of respondents said they would use, or would like more information on, technology such as telehealth, telecare, and self-care mobile apps. Similarly, actual experiences of telehealth, telecare or self-care, almost two thirds of people (64%) would definitely recommend their experience to family or friends.

Hazel Harper, Assisted Living Innovation Platform programme manager responsible for dallas, said: “There is obviously a significant awareness gap among the general public when it comes to health and care technologies and how they may support people to remain healthy, independent and happier for longer in their own home. However, we know that feeling informed and cared for are our highest priorities when it comes to our health and care – and assistive technologies and digital services can make a significant contribution to these needs.”

Only through debates like this can we aim to close the health technology gap, with the aim of transforming the lives of people across the UK

The research also found that the jury is still out on open access to health and care data with an almost equal amount of people in the UK comfortable with their health details being accessed by healthcare professionals (34%) as are not (38%).

More than half of respondents (53%) said they didn’t know what specific digital assistive technologies were, showing a lack of awareness, and 43% said they would prefer to go to the doctor – underlining our hold on tradition.

And the patient-doctor relationship remains critical, though in-person visits aren’t essential. More than a third of respondents felt that physically seeing a health and care professional was one of their top three health priorities – a similar proportion to the 30% of respondents who said simply being in touch with a health or social care professional was sufficient.

“Technology and digital services make a massive contribution to the self-care agenda. At dallas, we aim to meet the challenge of avoiding duplication of effort and creating more-efficient use of resources through cross-sector collaboration, so that all of us can live longer, healthier, happier and more rewarding lives,” said Harper.

Furthering the discussion, dallas and the King’s Fund have organised a meeting to debate the future of care in the UK and discuss the role of assistive technology and digital services. The meeting, Self-Care in the Digital Age , will be held on 24th June at the King’s Fund headquarters in central London.

The event will showcase four of the dallas projects from across the UK:

  • Living it Up (LiU) is a digitally-enabled community that supports better health, wellbeing and active lifestyles in Scotland. LiU provides personalised experiences to keep people connected with one another and with their health and wellbeing
  • Mi (More Independent) is a Liverpool-based scheme designed to enable people to take charge of their health, wellbeing and lifestyle through technology. Mi allows people to live more independently in their own homes, offering peace of mind both to them and their family, while supporting people to manage their health and care better at home
  • Year Zero is creating personalised electronic health records to allow people to take greater control of their health and wellbeing, while transforming the relationship between patients and health care professionals. Year Zero digitises electronic health records for children, in the form of the eredbook, as well as providing planning tools for the rest of the family
  • i-focus collaborates with providers of health and care services and cross-sector organisations on interoperability and best practices to transform service delivery through digital communications and technology

At dallas, we aim to meet the challenge of avoiding duplication of effort and creating more-efficient use of resources through cross-sector collaboration, so that all of us can live longer, healthier, happier and more rewarding lives

“The Self-Care in the Digital Age event is a significant opportunity to discuss the implications of this research and actively debate the future of assistive technology and self-care services,” said Harper.

“Only through debates like this can we aim to close the health technology gap, with the aim of transforming the lives of people across the UK.”

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