The role of combinatorial health technologies in supporting older people with long-term conditions: Responsibilisation or co-management of healthcare?

Sandra Elaine Varey*, Mandy Dixon*, Alejandra Hernandez*, Ceu Mateus*, Tom M Palmer*, Christine Milligan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Neoliberalism, austerity and health responsibilisation are increasingly informing policies and practices designed to encourage older patients to take responsibility for the management of their own healthcare. Combined with an ageing population, novel ways to address the increasing healthcare needs of older people have become a priority, with the emergence in recent years of new models of integrated care enhanced by combinatorial health technologies (CHTs). This paper presents qualitative findings from the evaluation of one programme, the Lancashire and Cumbria Innovation Alliance (LCIA) Test Bed, a programme funded by NHS England and conducted in England between 2016 and 2018.

Drawing on data from patients, family carers, and staff members involved in the programme, this paper explores the extent to which CHTs, as part of the LCIA Test Bed programme, contributed to health responsibilisation amongst older people with complex health conditions. Through this programme, we find that relationships between patients, family carers and healthcare professionals combined to create a sense of reassurance and shared responsibility for all parties. Our findings suggest the need for a more nuanced approach to responsibilisation and self-management for older people living with complex health conditions. By focusing on co-management – and recognising the potential of CHTs to facilitate this approach – there is potential to increase patient confidence in managing their health condition, reduce carer burden, and enhance clinician satisfaction in their work roles. While neoliberal agendas are focused on self-management and self-responsibility of one's own health care, with technology as a facilitator of this, our findings suggest that the successful use of CHTs for older people with complex health conditions may instead be rooted in co-management. This paper argues that co-management may be a more successful model of care for patients, carers and clinicians.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0277-9536
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume269 (2021)
Early online date24 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2020


  • Ageing
  • Co-management
  • Healthcare
  • Health technologies
  • Neoliberalism
  • Responsibilisation
  • Self-management

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