Technology solutions have a growing role in everyday healthcare and social care. Advanced solutions are being developed to cover specific needs of elderly people or those with a chronic condition which limit their mobility. Besides direct telehealth and digital health applications, communication solutions can also help to beat isolation, issue alerts or establish a safe, direct and immediate link between a health or social professional and the patient.
SpeakSet is a solution which enables elderly people to communicate peers, family members and social/health professionals using their probably most favorite electronic home device – the TV set. Calls can be initiated and received by using the TV screen, a very, very simple remote control unit, supported by a specific device connecting the television to the Internet and the secure communication network. Family members or professionals, if they prefer, may also connect to the system via a safe web interface. Telecare video consultations are possible via SpeakSet.
SpeakSet was run Albion Outlook Limited a consortium of three Health Care providers.
NETIS has been approached by one of this organisations, Albion Outlook/Medway Community Healthcare. Medway Community Healthcare provides a wide range of high quality community services; both NHS and non-NHS, across health and social care.
As the core activity of this organisation/group is health and social care, direct ICT operations are provided with the help of specialist companies to ensure smooth and compliant operation, in a reliable and cost efficient manner.
The requirement was to ensure regular patching is made to SpeakSet’s back-end system environment (in Amazon AWS), after a test environment is created to support error-free operation.
In addition, the application run in the SetTopBox (the device which connected the user’s television set to the SpeakSet network) has used an app which had to be replaced as the technology used, called Google Chrome Apps was officially announced as a tool no longer supported by Google. Therefore, besides the regular patching activities, this particular software had to be redeveloped within a reasonable time frame.
Solution and services
As the system was taken over from a startup organisation, one former member of team had to be involved in getting all necessary information and access to the system to create the required environments and start regular patching. Once all information was available, the regular tasks were performed by using a remote access. No particular problems or any disruptions (except for planned restarts of servers after major updates) was experienced in operations during this support task.
The new application was also developed and tested, which was then scheduled for deployment to all SpeakSet units (Set Top Boxes) with active customers. Technically, there were two viable options to replace Chrome Apps: Electron and NW.js. Initial research indicated NW.js was a better option: while functionally there were no major differences, NW.js was closer to Chrome Apps, which made the code conversion less risky.
Operation was stable having a support service and regular patching, including some one-off extra tasks such as patching the associated Let’s Encrypt service. SpeakSet service met operational and security standards.
Code conversion made the SpeakSet application more future-proof, however, additional development may be required to adjust the software to the features of new television sets as even elderly people tend to replace older TV set models with HDMI connections. Once this adjustment is made, SpeakSet will be able to serve local communities who need a very simple but secure communication method with carers or family members.