Published Jan12 2024 on care tech guide linked in.

1)     Near everyone checks the claims by employers (Glassdoor) or goods and services (trustpilot) – it’s a necessary reality check on marketing and the promises given. Those who market with integrity are rewarded with being the preferred choice.  A care provider buying tech is no different. There is no independent source of information for care tech and considering social care employs more than the NHS, it’s a gap!

2)     The main engagement model for buying tech is through in person shows – roadshows and large exhibition shows or direct sales. The shows are often brilliant, forging useful relationships and we’ve met amazing people through such but…for something as important as choosing a tech solution for your care service – do you really want to rest it on the good service of one sales person? Do you not want to compare suppliers or at least understand the differences with the competition, ensuring it is right for your specific service and organization, value for money? An independent online tool would be complimentary to these essential channels.

3)     Mis- selling! It happens in social care with the marketing of digital tech! Whether down to the pressure of a sales person hitting their quota and keeping their job, or a business under pressure to hit certain metrics or a human factor – the outcomes for the care provider are the same; sometimes contracts that can’t easily be got out of, sometimes excessive prices, sometimes tech that is not suited to a specific service type where the claims said it was. Once the contracting is done, in many cases it is too late and often too hard to get out or change without significant extra work and risk of disruption. Mis-selling can also hurt the reputation of the senior execs at the care provider who committed to it .

4)     You can understand it - don’t believe the hype! Care providers can run complex services with high degrees of detail, complexity with high levels of regulation. Who says they can’t understand the differences between the main 4 electronic meds suppliers for example? If you were better informed you could! What is needed is to make the tech sector more accessible so care providers overall knowledge is far more developed so they can take more of an informed view. In my view, we need less promoting and more informing and equipping care providers. Let's make the differences between software more clear - let's mature the market so buyers can easily find what is right for them. So many other sectors have championed the needs of the consumer by empowering the consumer(comparethemarket, this is money, autotrader, amazon etc etc) it’s time social care had the same!

5)     The extraordinary cost pressures are making the job of running some care services as viable concerns extra difficult. There is no quick fix to this yet many of the labour intensive tasks within care services can be done far more efficiently and effectively (with less resource) by using tech. But not any tech! You need a strategy, you need to know what’s out there and get advice (eg Guided Innovation, Daniel Casson, Hayley Horwood – all people we work with and are useful in this space.)

6)     Duplication costs us all! The tech sector selling and marketing to care providers of necessity has to put significant resources into marketing to try and connect with the elusive care provider, demonstrate their credibility and from a large number of interactions, a relatively small amount will firm up. There is lots of waste in this process as;

·        The suppliers are replicating the same concepts for engagement

·        All using separate platforms – no leveraging costs between us

·        Care providers pay the costs of this via their monthly bills for tech

·        Care providers are time poor- they haven’t got time to look at all the different websites or forge relationships with so many suppliers. It is not efficient for care providers to engage with tech suppliers in the current way -so many product demo’s, meetings etc

·        One platform for consumers to access reviews, testimonials, compare and ask questions would really help the consumer. It would also likely reduce the overall sales and marketing costs for the suppliers.

7)     For the most part, the tech suppliers to care are a decent group, mainly very good but the limitation with them being your primary source of information is simply their positioning – they want to sell to you so by association their level of objectivity is mixed to low. An intermediary would help. That’s why recruiters are so good- they help bring people together -it works better to have a trusted voice draw the parties together. We think this is better for a social care – a place where is real debate, disseminating of knowledge and a grown up ongoing conversation with suppliers about the users want next. We think the market needs to be driven more by care providers (who pay) and less by the well meaning tech suppliers serving them.

8)     The assured supplier list is an excellent resource and initiative (thanks NHS Transformation Directorate and central Govmt funding) but it still leaves off which solution is best for which setting and the need for independent verification of claims and suitability. There is still a gap.

Tech suppliers invest large sums of time and money (often of their own), many of them are true visionaries with a heart to improve social care - I love this positive intent and it's why I choose to do the same. I would love it if we could help care providers find good tech more easily - a shortlist at the click of a button and help tech suppliers with a great product to get in front of people more cost effectively.

Imagine if there was an independent online site sharing unbiased info about care tech with reviews, all in 1 place, where large and small suppliers co-exist and no favourites. There is a thought!

This article was written by Liam Palmer who has an interest in care quality and care tech adoption.

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