Insights

Mark Denton: 7.5 minute read

What will the Health and Social Care trends be in 2020?

If we could predict the future then we would be rich. We can’t but what we can do is use our near 30 years of experience in the fields of Health and Social Care to make predictions. Our experience qualifies us to share our thoughts on what the Health and Social Care trends of 2020 will potentially look like.

We have successfully steered our clients in the right direction when it comes to technology solutions for four generations with ECLIPSE being our most recent technology platform. When we began looking to the next decade a few years ago, we saw the emerging trends of Cloud technology and knew that we needed to act and fast. Rebuilding a technology platform is not an easy task. It takes time and resources but we did so as we knew that it was the right thing to do. Since day one we have endeavoured to do what is right and so building ECLIPSE was an easy decision to make.

Now, years later, ECLIPSE is an award-winning software and services platform that connects more than 25,000 practitioners from five different sectors of life. It empowers them to do their jobs in a more effective and efficient manner. We have assisted hundreds of organisations in achieving their goals, whilst also saving them money on route.

Cloud-Native, Software as a Service Solutions

Creating a product from the ground up to take advantages of the Cloud is what is referred to as a Cloud Native solution. These are solutions that have been designed to be used from mobile devices, from anywhere at any time, not simply legacy software products that have been lifted into a Cloud container. This on the surface does not appear to be of major concern but in reality, it is a serious consideration.

Within our industry, we find clients who are frustrated with providers who have promised them a true Cloud platform but delivered an exercise in side-scrolling. By simply picking a piece of ‘legacy software’ and placing it in the Cloud you create a product that is no longer fit for purpose, requiring you to navigate stretched screens and endure slow performance. Cloud software doesn’t automatically mean better.

Thankfully lessons have been learned from the initial introduction of Cloud technology and there is a growing demand for systems such as our award-winning software and services platform, ECLIPSE.

The ECLIPSE platform has been:

  • Highly commended at the 2019 HTN Awards event for the Impact of the Year
  • A winner within the National Technology Awards in the category of Best Public Sector Project
  • Highly commended within the Municipal Journal Awards

In 2020 we believe that there will be continued growth in terms of demand for next-generation specialist applications such as ECLIPSE. The road leading here will continue to be littered with legacy software looking to give themselves a Cloud facelift but we all know that you cannot put lipstick on a pig.

As our Founder and current Chief Executive, Peter O’Hara said when he spoke with HTN News;

“The current supplier community across Health and Social Care is still dominated by legacy software, designed and built for another era. For suppliers it still provides strong revenues streams and profits, with little incentive for them to put this at risk by embarking on expensive re-engineering of their solutions it is difficult to see out the emerging demand for SAAS solutions can be satisfied any time soon”

New Ways of Working

With the move towards the Cloud, there is a desire to embrace new ways of working such as the Three Conversations Model. Using technology to co-ordinate processes and procedures whilst people are working in the field is the current dream and it is one that is worth staying awake for.

With a Cloud-Native software solution developed as a SAAS (Software as a Solution) piece of software, you can create savings from embedding a new way of working. By enabling workers to work from anywhere, at any time and on any device you place the child or vulnerable adult first. They are made into the priority that they should be.

Moving away from the assessment for services model that many local authorities have been accused of employing is made possible through additional face time. This is brought to life by the possibility of Cloud services. Software solutions such as ECLIPSE empower Social Workers to spend more time with users as they do not need to go back to the office to access their case management system. They are able to do so from anywhere. They can update notes in their car, at a café or whilst they are with the service user.

Simplicity is the battle cry of the 21st century and rather than requiring workers to head back to the office after each shift, they can continue in the field where they are needed. A desire that we see occurring more and more as the month's pass. We all have access to shop and chat on the move and so why can’t we work around the technology we utilise in the workplace? Why do we have to be beholden to the devices we choose to operate?

Brexit

Brexit will kick in at the end of this year and the beginning of next, after the transition period has ended and then who knows? In terms of trends, this will continue to dominate Twitter much like Father Christmas does to the advertising airwaves during the festive season. It is something that has an ending surrounded in mystery just like a Christopher Nolan film but this is no dream.

Brexit will leap off the page and kick the country. What is undecided is where it will kick us? Will it give the country the kick in the behind that it needs to take care of the most vulnerable members of society or will it leave them high and dry? We have no idea what the final picture will look like but we can guarantee that this will be an ongoing trend. It will take years to move beyond this two-syllable word that can be argued as the most divisive in recent memory.

Fear of it will drive Health and Social Care organisations to make cautious investments with change being hard-fought. Suppliers such as ourselves will need to go above and beyond to prove that investment in their platform will be worth the move. Some will inevitably shy away from investment in favour of maintaining what they have to save costs.

Digital 2020 is here but with consistent budget cuts and funding restraints, many Health and Social Care organisations are underprepared. Investment is needed and you cannot argue against that. In an era of 5G there is no place for fax machines. They belong in a museum but any move to archive them and embrace Cloud technology is consistently hampered by budgetary constraints. These will be intensified by Brexit fears.

Brexit can be the elephant in the room but rather than wallow in the seat of despair it and fear to invest, we see it as a challenge. One in which suppliers such as ourselves are placed in the centre of the room and scrutinised to ensure that what we are bringing to the table is fit for purpose. People understand what technology is available and can’t be easily hoodwinked as perhaps they have before.

Brexit is a challenge and one in which suppliers such as ourselves should be ready for. ECLIPSE was created to be fit for purpose for the next decade. It will save money every year and give more time back to staff, it is not an exercise in smoke and mirrors that some suppliers have run over the last few years. Teams understand what is out there and with Brexit forcing serious questions to be asked, intense scrutiny will be a key trend in 2020.

Working Together to Enable Change

Money is always an issue. Sometimes you may have a little extra but mostly you will be watching the pennies. This is of course if you are not part of the wealthy elite as most of us are not. To counter these local authorities and healthcare providers need to work together to embrace the sharing of resources. Technology combined with new ways of working, shared resources and information will enable true person-centred care.

Multi-agency working is something that was identified years ago and yet still proves to be a stumbling block. Our Chief Executive identified it as a trend that will be prominent in the year 2020 when speaking with HTN News;

“With the move into the New Year we can say that Digital 2020 at least has entered the arrival hall, but there could be some delay before Health & Social Care will take off and get the benefits that a fully Digital service will promise. Being in the Cloud with next-generation business software that is designed to enable collaborative multi-agency working that truly provides person-centred care and engaged communities are what the next digitally engaged decade will be about.”

More and more organisations will see projects such as the launch of the United Kingdom’s first SEND bi-borough service and want to replicate the savings for themselves. The move to a shared service that was administered via our ECLIPSE Software and Services Platform enabled them to complete all EHC Plans on time.

ECLIPSE Software and Services Platform

We saw the emerging trends of the future a few years ago when we decided to embark on the challenge of creating a new software platform from scratch. We knew that simply maintaining the status quo would not be the right thing to do. It may have proved the prudent plan in regards to our bank account but it was not the right thing to do for our clients.

Since day one we have remained independent, free of shareholders to invest where we see the benefit and able to move with the needs of the client. We do not feel as though it is an idle brag to say that we have the only platform as of 2020 that will be as fit for purpose today as it is in ten years’ time.

We created the ECLIPSE Platform to enable new ways of working together, alongside multi-agency access securely delivered via the Cloud. We didn’t realise that Brexit would emerge as a key trend but we certainly believe in ECLIPSE and its ability to navigate organisations through these troubled waters. As our Chief Executive worded it within HTN News;

The challenge for suppliers will be to ensure that their software is ready for the move to the Cloud, to provide secure access for agencies to work together collaboratively. As one of the few wholly-owned UK Software houses focused across the sector, OLM has invested to bring the next generation technology to the market, and know-how challenging this will be for others who have yet to embark on that journey.

To Conclude

2020 will be dominated by Brexit headlines and the build-up to this momentous moment. It will place more pressure on already fit to bursting budgets with organisations needing to make investments wisely. Well thought-through investments today will pay a dividend over the next ten years.

AI will continue to be a topic of interest in terms of the perceived benefits but in reality, very few applications are able to make a difference at present. Machine learning has come a long way but day-to-day applications that can be applied cost-effectively are a way off. 2020 will be a year of consolidation not only for Health and Social Care organisations but also within the supplier market. As our Chief Executive said to HTN News;

Ever since NPFIT, there has been a significant reduction in the number of software suppliers in the UK, especially indigenous local SME’s, for example, there are only really 3 GP System suppliers.

Consolidation and M&A activity will continue as investors strengthen their market position to exploit the stream of existing revenue from installed legacy systems. The downside for the Health and Social Care sector is a less competitive and innovative supply market as an investment in next-generation solutions is deferred until M&A costs have been returned.

A lack of investment in next-generation solutions will continue to permeate across suppliers but not with OLM. We believe in doing what is right for our customers and that is one trend that will never change. Our ECLIPSE Software and Services Platform has been created to make a difference and that will not change in 2020.