Tunstall Healthcare Group is to invest up to £100m over the next five years bringing the company into the digital age at a time when an ageing population is increasingly switching to care in the home.
The North Yorkshire firm also outlined ambitious international growth plans to make the most of a surge in interest from emerging markets as governments around the world introduce preventative measures to help elderly people before they have an accident or a fall.
Tunstall, which is based in Whitley, has made a name for itself by manufacturing innovative devices that allow patients to monitor their health from the comfort of their homes.
Its systems help save lives by raising the alarm if a patient’s health deteriorates. It also saves money by reducing the number of hospital visits, doctors’ appointments and social health care visits.
The group’s telecare systems allow 24-hour monitoring of patients. They include fall detectors, bed and chair occupancy sensors, panic alarms, property exit sensors and movement detectors.
It has also introduced a range of devices such as a pendant that can be pressed if someone has a fall or they need to raise the alarm.
Tunstall‘s CEO Paul Stobart said: “We offer two massive benefits – an improved quality of life and saving the taxpayer money. Economically it makes sense.
“Older people and those with long-term conditions provide a major social issue for society. The number of people over 65, 85 and 100 is growing and the number of chronic conditions is growing. This means the cost of looking after older people is growing.
“Our mission is to enable people to live at home for longer.”
Traditionally, the group has focused on analogue technology that works through a fixed telecoms line. Now the group is ready to embrace the digital age, allowing connectivity through WiFi, fixed line, Bluetooth and cellular devices.
“Now all devices can be connected not only remotely but to each other. All the devices in the home can be connected,” said Mr Stobart.
The latest technology can tell when a person gets out of bed, walks across the hall and into the bathroom. If they fail to return an alert can be sent out to the emergency services, their relatives and other healthcare professionals.
Tunstall will spend up to £20m a year over the next five years implementing its Connected Healthcare 2020 plan.
Mr Stobart said that falls are the biggest catalyst for death in the elderly and its devices can tell if someone’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature has altered, indicating a fall or collapse could be imminent.
The five-year plan will involve the creation of around a dozen new jobs a year in Whitley.
“A little old company in Yorkshire has established a position of leadership and is servicing the world,” said Mr Stobart.
New target markets include South Korea, Turkey and Mex- ico.
Tunstall is already the market leader in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Australia and it is the fourth biggest in the US.
Tunstall was bought for £514m by private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners in 2008.
It was sold by Bridgepoint Capital which bought it in 2005 from HgCapital for £225m.
The group employs 3,500 staff around the world and 650 in Yorkshire.