Technology to support the Aged Care industryBy Patrick Saundry on
The need for effective digital solutions to support the aged care industry in the provision of expert quality care was examined at the recent Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference held in Melbourne. Thought leaders and providers within the IT space were invited to present our perspectives on industry trends, and showcase different ways that the varying objectives of aged care providers can be met with innovative digital solutions.
The expectations and requirements of the aged care model have changed over time in response to several critical factors, such as increased service demand driven by greater financial capacity of consumers, a concerning gap between supply and demand in skilled aged care workers, regulation changes and market growth.
Understandably, in response to the increased aging population, focus has shifted to consumer directed care, rather government directed. This means that the consumer now has control over service supply, not the provider. One industry sector, community and home care providers, has been directly affected in a number of ways. For example, customers have a preference of service types, service supplies, and a choice of the days and frequency they receive service. This adds a number of new challenges to suppliers, such as understanding how profitability, costing and an optimum price structure works for their business model, and being personally more responsible for their clients’ physical, mental, social, and emotional health.
In order to stay competitive and profitable, aged care suppliers need to operate like a business. In other words, they need to create a business plan and budget, and then implement it. The budget will help them determine how to price their services to ensure they are competitive, while still covering costs and making a profit. Their business plan also needs to include a marketing component. This will help the business constantly promote their services to prospective customers.
Furthermore, human resources also need to be addressed. Without a scalable system in place for workforce planning, recruiting personnel, and then retaining talent, aged care providers may suffer high turnover costs – something they cannot afford in an industry where demand of skilled employees will soon outstrip supply.
Many people in the community remain under the impression that the government supplies aged care services when they require them, so are not even aware they need to be making enquiries and choices. Communicating with and educating your target demographic (baby boomers and their children), will share the message that they need to start selecting their own services, and what is available to them.
The aged care industry will need to implement technological solutions to help them manage these objectives and operate like a business. The right solution will help providers attract new clients, communicate with carers, manage the health of their customers, and innovate service models. SAP is particularly well placed to support the aged care industry, as this has been an area of extensive research and development in recent years. In fact, over 7000 healthcare and aged care businesses, and 100% of healthcare organisations in the Forbes 2000, are currently using SAP environments to help all areas of their business run better.
In my experience, aged care providers are, understandably, more concerned about caring for their patients, than they are about the intricacies of running a business and managing IT infrastructure. SAP is particularly sensitive to this, with user-friendly processes, second-to-none systems’ security and accessible support. When an aged care provider has between 1000 – 5000 customers to look after each day, it cannot afford system outages.
One of the unique ways that SAP supports its clients in the health care and aging industry is with simplified, reliable access to accurate data, resulting in more informed decision making. Data consolidation into a single system allows instant data access.
The success of individual aged care suppliers in an evolving market will depend very heavily on their ability to run their business efficiently, whilst providing market leading service to their customers. The right technology platform should assist these organisations enhance their quality of care, improve financial sustainability and achieve long-term patient-provider loyalty.
About the author:
Patrick Saundry, the Head of SMB at UXC Oxygen, partners with SMEs to determine their business objectives, and then designing and implementing the solution to deliver those outcomes over short and long term horizons.