We often talk about what the Self-Care Hub (SCH) does, how it helps people, what makes it different. Almost as important a question is, “What is the future of the Self-Care Hub?” To some extent, the answer depends on what people want most, as we always design according to the needs of the user and in response to what is happening within healthcare. We do already have some development ideas for the future, some of which include integrating technology we have already built which is proving popular.
What could the future of the Self-Care Hub look like?
Dynamic Geolocation - Already implemented in HealthMyself, making this part of the SCH could mean truly local information on services and resources can be returned because of the ability to choose a search radius according to the user’s location. The hidden beauty in it is that the content management is minimal, with pre-approved information being sourced from internet platforms where information updating is done by the sources. It also keeps the barriers of entry low, not requiring registrations or logins to draw on information from social media.
Example: If Mary, who uses the SCH, wants to find out about local befriending services, all she needs to do is tap on her choices (no typing required) she can find information, including that on Facebook, within 2 miles (adjustable) of her location. It means she isn’t given irrelevant information on places she can’t get to or subjects she isn’t interested in.
Integration with patient-held record systems - Offering people to access their patient data is a key part of enabling people to become more activated in terms of their health and wellbeing, as well as being an aim of public policy. It could also give an opportunity for greater collaborative care planning, making things like medication monitoring and regular measurements (e.g. blood sugar levels) more integrated into a person’s overall care.
Wearable technology and apps - Increasing in general popularity are devices, such as WiFi-enabled wristbands, which monitor physical activity, measure heart rate, blood pressure, and many other things. Useful for anyone who is trying to become more active, having this information integrated with the SCH and using the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques could help people to be much more motivated, consistent and successful in reaching their goals. It could give those who are supporting somebody via the SCH a clearer insight into their health needs, and offer advice and support as appropriate.
Push notifications - Already part of some of our other services, push notifications for tablet and mobile users could further help people to succeed in achieving their goals. Handy reminders to complete targets, e.g. watch a video about overcoming anxiety or find out about local walking clubs, can provide extra encouragement for making the small changes which will lead to the big ones.
Translation tool - Again, we have implemented a Translator tool on the West Wakefield Health and Wellbeing website as well as Oxfordshire’s COACH website. Incorporating this into SCH could have an impact on areas of the country where there is a significant proportion of foreign languages spoken as first language. People will be able to use the tools and perhaps interact with others where they may not have had the confidence to do so before due to language barriers.
Community support and management - Part of the vision for the SCH is to enable a ‘Condition Lead’ to provide real-time support to individuals and groups via the SCH. This could incorporate video-link technology, similar to Skype, to make the experience a more personal one. Although interaction with the digital world and ‘doing things online’ is already a major part of our day-to-day life, there is still value in being able to see a person’s face and to pick up on the visual cues which are significant part of effective communication.
There are many, many ways to develop the SCH technology. What matters most is that we have built the fundamental building blocks to allow adaptability and the flexibility to add, change and remove as needs change - for both end users and service providers. It is also intuitive, personalised and easy to use, which is what people now expect in other areas of digital technology, such as retail. We are always open to ideas and would love to hear your thoughts on what the future could look like.