CST calls for data standards and APIs for assisted living

Council for Science and Technology’s recommendations to prime minister emphasise the use of digital devices in meeting the increasing pressures on social care

The Council for Science and Technology (CST) has called on the Government to encourage industry to develop data standards and APIs to encourage the use of new digital devices in social care.

Younger person holding old person's handIt has also recommended the creation of Healthy Ageing Challenge and a National Centre of Excellence for Ageing and Design, aiming to boost the use of assistive technologies.

CST, a non-departmental public body that advises the prime minister on science and technology issues, has made the recommendations in a letter to Theresa May on the prospects of using technology to deal with the big increases in demand for social care.

Its co-chair, Dame Nancy Rothwell, says in the letter: “The full potential of technology in care can be realised only if we act on this system as a whole. The Government's Industrial Strategy and forthcoming consultation on reforming care and support offer a rare opportunity for such an approach.”

Proposed measures include the development of data standards and APIs to enable care providers to share data generated by smart home and assisted living devices. This should involve NHS providers so that care data can be better fed into clinical decision-making and vice versa.

Better targeted services

“If the UK sees a rapid growth in the use of smart home technology, wearables and wider sensors in the delivery of social care, this will lead to large amounts of new, care-relevant data,” Rothwell says. “This could be used to better target care services more effectively, understand demand for care and inform clinical decision making.”

The other recommendations are that:

  • UK Research and Innovation should develop a Healthy Ageing Challenge within the Industrial Strategy Fund. This should invite bids to new technology to support independent living, with a focus on ensuring scalability.
  • The establishment of a National Centre of Excellence for Ageing and Design, bringing together academia and industry to ensure new technology is usable by older people. This would involve the application of social and behavioural sciences.
  • The Government should review the support for citizens and care providers looking for assisted living products. This should involve curating evidence on what works.

The prime minister’s response makes no reference to the proposal for data standards and APIs, but takes a positive tone and points out that the Government Industrial Strategy identifies ageing as one of the Grand Challenges for the technology industry.

The Government has also committed to publishing a green paper on care and support next summer.

Image from iStock