We asked some of the Appello employees, who have combined over 100 years’ experience within the industry, what they have witnessed within the Technology Enabled Care (TEC) sector, the evolution of the digital era, past stories and experiences that have shaped the way they see the sector. We will touch on how the sector has adapted over time to benefit Appello and our customers, and where it is heading.
Part 1 in our 3-part series will look at the sectors journey through the eyes of the Appello monitoring staff. We will hear from Rachel England, Customer Success Manager, and Anthony McGrory, Centre Manager as they explain how the change in the TEC sector has benefitted Appello’s ability to grow, and how the ‘one size fits all’ approach has been left in the past.
- How long have you worked at Appello?
RE: I have worked at Appello for 17 years.
AM: I started with appello in 2012, so 9 years.
- What’s the most important change you’ve seen in TEC sector over the years?
AM: I think the most important change is the move from analogue to digital and the benefits this provides to our customer base in terms of connection time. The typically slow analogue 60-90 second call set-up may not result in a successful connection to a Monitoring Centre. As it re-attempts, it could take another 60-90 seconds. That represents an extended risk to life, especially compared to the 3-4 second connection speed of a digital system, that will not suffer from first time call failures.
RE: I agree, the technologies are the biggest change and how these can support independent living, from social interactions to lifestyle monitoring.
- How has it benefitted Appello and the sector?
RE: Appello have been front and centre of many of these changes, with our Smart Living Solutions (SLS) being at the forefront of change within sheltered housing settings. Alongside SLS is our fully digital monitoring platform which has given Appello the ability to grow, whereas analogue monitoring and the traditional marketplace is staid and becoming unfit for purpose.
- Do you have any stories that show what the industry was like when you started?
RE: When I joined, the monitoring team had 5 members and was derived from the need to service one customer. The platform had a foot pedal to toggle between speech and listening, and operators had very few processes to follow.
AM: When I joined the industry, which now feels in the dark ages, there were few SME contact centre managers delivering the services in the monitoring centres. Slowly the industry has invested in this expertise which is raising the bar in terms of efficiency of the centres and engagement at all levels.
We have moved away from a standard delivery of monitoring and now work more strategically, working together to improve service users lives.
- What’s the biggest change and expectations you’ve seen from customers?
AM: Not so much a change but a given is that the monitoring centre answers alarm calls promptly and provides the correct service – whether this be a responder service, next of kin (nok) call or a call to the emergency services to provide lifesaving support. The former expectation being delivered much more consistently and in a timelier manner with the distribution of digital devices.
RE: I think the biggest change is the business customers, mainly housing or property management services, who work with us in partnership. We have moved away from a standard delivery of monitoring and now work more strategically, working together to improve service users lives. Historically the service was a ‘pay per connection’ to answer alarm calls, now this model is far more complex with technical processes and management information shaping service delivery.
- What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in how monitoring services are delivered in your time at Appello?
RE: The ‘one size fits all’ approach is long since behind us, Appello have evolved to work with our customers to ensure that we are providing a service that is as bespoke as possible, whilst making sure that best practice is always a priority. I often say we aren’t selling fridges – we are dealing with people’s lives and we always strive to keep a person-centred view.
AM: I believe the biggest change was in telephony and the CRM platform, which the business moved from in early 2011/2012. Appello moved from a well-known industry platform to a bespoke platform built with the input of users (staff members who would be using the platform). The second iteration of this platform taking place in 2019/2020 to great affect providing even further enhancements for Appello emergency call handlers, B2B customers and indeed our end users.
- How has the use of data and insight changed the delivery of monitoring services since you’ve started?
AM: The introduction of AppelloSBR, part of Appello Cloud Services, provided the business the opportunity to look at an individual rather than a device which is typical in the telecare industry. Through AppelloSBR our customers can access all the personal information relating to a resident that is used by the Appello Careline team. From health status and medication to next of kin and property access details, this information, where appropriate, is provided to the emergency services. Ensuring this information is accurate can be critical in supporting the emergency services to deliver the most appropriate response.
RE: Management Information (MI) is fundamental to the service delivery. For example, reviewing high intensity service users to ensure that our business customers are aware of changing needs and can act on these. The MI that we can get from CareNet, our award winning, digital Technology Enabled Care call handling platform, also benefits our business, such as key areas partnership working, reducing non-critical call types
- If you were living in supported housing in the future what technology would you expect, and do you think we are a long way off delivering that?
RE: Video calling/conferencing to allow ‘eyes on’ when speaking to an individual calling about an emergency. It will make sure that when people need help they are getting this as quickly as possible, this would massively reduce the impact on emergency services, reducing false calls but also making sure they attend to service users based on medical risk. This would be a sea change in the monitoring service needing a certain type of person or even clinicians to assess, but the value of this for an emergency monitoring centre would be hugely beneficial. The technology currently exists, the compliance and process would need to be built upon.
AM: I would expect a telecare digital device which was compatible with any peripheral in the market delivering value for money.
A device which helped me in case of an emergency but also monitored my health proactively and triggered alarms where my health was out of the norm. A device which was also able to alert family and friends in both above capacities.
- What do you think will be the biggest influence in the Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) industry in 5 years?
AM: The move from analogue to digital and move to a more person centric TEC supporting emergency and health at the same time.
RE: Smarter on-site technologies and more environmental monitoring. The impact of non-emergency call types on the NHS will certainly influence TECS, with TECS providers needing to be more creative with getting appropriate help to the service user. Responder services will come into their own, whether formal or informal, and flexible solutions will be needed sooner rather than later.