NRS Healthcare is a market leading and award-winning provider of services designed to support independent living. The company work with commissioners across the UK to transform and deliver effective and comprehensive Technology Enabled Care Services. These services enable people to live independently and confidently in their own homes.
Since 2018, Appello have delivered monitoring services on behalf of NRS Healthcare in Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Torbay, adding West Sussex to the portfolio in 2020.
The UK telecoms infrastructure is undergoing digital upgrades from the analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), to the All-IP network. This has resulted in a c10% first-time call failure rate across the UK. As a result of a migration project by NRS Healthcare with one of their local authority customers, it was identified that this was significantly greater amongst devices signalling the analogue protocol BS8521-1. Within a particular large geographic region, first-time call failure rate was identified in up to 28% of calls.
In this short interview with James Lampert, Head of Technology Enabled Care Services at NRS Healthcare, we delve into their experience of introducing the cloud application, Appello DigitalBridge. We look at how call failures were the driving force, and how they were mitigated to ensure customer safety.
What challenges were NRS experiencing with call failures?
“We first needed to understand how many calls on the analogue networks failed first time, causing individuals to dial back and re-present to the monitoring centre.
As part of this project testing, we identified that the protocol, BS8521-1 was failing at a higher than acceptable rate amongst the telecare devices already in peoples’ homes in a particular region. This was due to infrastructure changes and the age of the telephone network.
We needed to move the monitoring services for 3,500 customers living in this area on behalf of one of our local authority customers and wanted to ensure that the risk of calls failing to reach Appello first time was at the lowest level achievable.
Non BS8521 analogue protocols in the same area were experiencing between 0.38% and 0.77% first-time failure rate, which is what we deemed acceptable.”
Did the call failure rates cause concern to NRS and your customers?
“Successful first-time presentation of an alert to the alarm receiving centre was of the utmost importance to us, in relation to the management of risk to the service user and in offering the speediest response when requiring help. In an emergency, speed, and reliability of a connection to call for help is key.”
How did you overcome these challenges?
“Appello presented to us the opportunity to use their cloud application, Appello DigitalBridge, an analogue to digital protocol conversion tool. In short, it takes the inbound BS8521-1 analogue message from the alarm device into the cloud, and then converts this into an outbound BS8521-2 digital message for the monitoring centre.
It appeared to be a sensible, short-term option to mitigate the immediate risks that we were keen to explore further.
Following rigorous testing between NRS Healthcare and Appello, we turned the 25-28% first time failure rate – from devices signalling BS8521-1 within the area – to a first-time failure rate running at 0.006%. This exceeded expectation and gave us, and our local authority customer the confidence to switch over and run calls via the DigitalBridge.
The switch was successfully completed in October 2020 and since then has continued this success rate of calls reaching the monitoring centre first time, giving us and our commissioners confidence in a safe and effective service for people who need telecare to help them live safely and independently.”
How was the implementation process of Appello DigitalBridge?
“Appello and NRS Healthcare took a project management approach, with weekly project meetings and reports that we could use to keep our local authority customer up to date with progress. Testing was a partnership effort, with the Appello technical team working closely day to day with our project team, technical experts and telecare technicians.”
“We have the confidence that when people use our telecare service for assistance, the call is going to get through as quickly as it can to an operator, on the current analogue network.
We know that this is not a long-term fix and that as digital services are rolled out by telecoms providers the offer will need to change. But for now, Appello DigitalBridge has been a welcome solution that has supported us to keep people safe at home.”