Interview with Gordon Sutherland, Tunstall Healthcare

What is Tunstall’s elevator pitch?

Tunstall has always been at the forefront of innovation in the health, social care technology market. We develop products and services which offer unrivalled connectivity, functionality, scalability and choice to our digital health and care customers, and to the people they support.
We integrate world-leading smart technology with high quality monitoring and support services, to give individuals increased independence, improved quality of life and wider choice in their care options, whether they are living with a disability, have a long-term condition impacting their independence, or simply need more support for living independently later in life.
We harness the power of innovative technology, operating within our unified Evity operating platform. This unique eco-system, combined with our global health and social care knowledge and experience, ensures Tunstall will continue to lead the market in data-driven solutions fit for the future. Our latest generation of solutions provides valuable insight to enable more personalised and predictive care, increasing efficiency and empowering as well as protecting people.
Developing pioneering models that provide optimised support and care packages through digital technology is what drives Tunstall to build on its heritage of innovation and to continually advance its products and services. We aim to balance independence with reassurance, providing tailored support that meets individual’s needs, both now and in the future. As the world becomes increasingly digital, Tunstall will continue to lead the change, creating connected and intelligent solutions that are groundbreaking and life changing.

Longer independent living: in 2018 is the silver generation ready to get help from technology for that? Or do you sell to their children or some third parties (organisations like the NHS).

We’ve seen technology adoption evolve quite rapidly over the last few years. The so called ‘silver generation’ (55-70 age group) are now very tech savvy and open to adopting technologies to help their daily living needs. This is proven in multiple studies that show high adoption rates in smartphones and social media in this age group.
We address this opportunity through multiple channels, depending on the country. This group and the older generation can be supplied on a consumer private pay basis or the service (social care or health) can be provided by state or insurance purchasing systems. In short, we tailor our business model to the conditions in each region.
Our solutions make it easier to care from a distance, enabling family members to provide support from afar. It’s often the child of an older parent who introduces technology as a way of providing reassurance to both parties, and as statutory services remain under significant pressure, adult children are increasingly choosing to source and fund digital support themselves.

The balance between human and technology: surely it’s sometimes difficult, especially with communications. How do you draw that line?

This is going to be an interesting area of development for the industry, as AI will have an increasing role to play. Our focus is always on the end user and ensuring the technology is centred on their needs and wants, rather than on the available functionality. Technology is an enabler that means the right care can be delivered at the right time, rather than being an end in itself. Consent is also a key consideration for the industry and its customers; technology is developed and deployed in collaboration with the people using it to help them live the lives they choose. Our philosophy is to enable independence and freedom, but also to connect people.

What do you see as digital healthcare’s biggest challenges looking into 2019?

In this field we are only limited by our imagination and appetite for change. Our biggest challenge is in the structural changes needed in payment systems, and in the roles and responsibilities within large delivery organisations. To take advantage of what the software and digital architecture can offer, payment models, daily workflows and organisational structures will need to change. For people, that can be a challenge, no matter how much that change is needed.

In the tech sector we are talking a lot about AI at the moment. What is your take on its role in healthcare?

As I mentioned before, AI is going to be a very interesting development area for the connected care and health space. AI is going to help us be much more predictive in identifying needs at both the individual and population health levels. For example, it will help us identify a deterioration in health and allow a social worker to intervene to prevent a fall. Or it will help a nurse prioritise their patients under care to give more time to those with the greatest need. Having deep experience in both health and social care allows Tunstall to play an important role in shaping where AI will be able to provide the most value.

The interview has been originally published on the special issue of CoFounder