The Migration to Digital Telecare
As the elderly population is growing in size as well as life expectancy at birth, the need for digital services and solutions for people living at home or in group living is increasing. It will prolong life of living for many but also cut costs for municipalities. There is a wide area of sensors that can be offered in combination with telecare devices such as night surveillance, bed sensors, door sensors, cameras etc.
The European close-down of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a fuelling factor which will force a migration to digital telecare. In UK the PSTN is announced to be closed by 2025 forcing a huge transformation activity with more than 1.5 million telecare devices.
In Sweden, the SCAIP standard (also known as CENELEC TS 50134-9) was developed and implemented to ensure a digitization and interoperability of telecare devices on various alarm platforms, but also to provide stability and allow new services to arise.
New Market Competition
The traditional telecare market has been dominated by solutions developed before the raise of internet, with a closed and monolithic design, but more importantly not meeting the change in customer demands and customer expectations over time. Going forward we will see many new players making entries in the telecare market and take market share from the big and established companies that previously provided everything from telecare devices to alarm centers as well as personnel responding to the alarms. The telecare vendor chain is being decoupled.
The winners in this change are the solution providers that offer the best customer experience for elderly people in terms of stability, innovation and ease of use. Municipalities are putting new and tougher requirements on solution providers of digital services with requests such as VoiP, video conferencing and increased used of sensors that no supplier can provide on its own. The ability to put together a solution based on open and available technology standards is central.
For incumbents, protection of the installed base is essential in the short term, but in the long run, customer experience will always be key. The challenge for many incumbents will be to kill their darlings and move to a decoupled telecare chain without opening up the market for new competitors.
Opportunities lie ahead
Instead of looking at “same same but different”, solution providers should look at what’s happening in the internet side of things meaning Cloud Communications (SaaS), open APIs and improved flexibility in terms of quick time-to-market, access to best-of-breed components and reduced cost of ownership.
The internet model is not only to provide software from cloud solutions, but also to let solution providers easily integrate new software or functions from other vendors through open APIs.
In the digitalization of the European telecare market new players will put together best-of-breed solutions with building blocks from an ecosystem of suppliers, each one focusing on delivering a top-of-the-range product, service or function. Care devices from one supplier, alarm, voice and video capabilities from another, a cloud based alarm platform from a third, and sensors & cameras from yet other vendors. Such solutions will enable solution providers to stay ahead of competition through superior customer experience.
The transformation to a digital and connected welfare sector has just started and will go hand in hand with the decoupling of the telecare vendor chain. Solution providers who want to lead the digitalization of the welfare sector will have to turn to best-of-breed technology and start implementing components from suppliers that are top of their game.