​Better technology backbone a step change for the aged care sector

By Matthew Sampias, Business Manager, Small and Mid-Sized Business on

The confluence of three key factors; rapidly evolving technology, new governmental regulation and the growth of an ageing population is shaking up what was once a staid aged care sector.

In response, service providers are playing catch up, moving fast to adjust to the new business realities and adopting modern solutions to capture a greater share of the new opportunities.

Why the aged care sector is under digital transformation

Legacy products offering retrospective decision-making capabilities are no longer adequate to accommodate the increased service demands in the new consumer-led environment of aged care services. As a result, providers are moving to digitally-enabled IT solutions.

A new breed of real-time, mobile and cloud enabled products beckon, promising better decision-making capabilities and embracing a more collaborative consumer economy.

Three key factors to consider before undertaking a digital transformation

But before embracing innovation, it is important to get the basics right first. I believe there are three key factors service care suppliers need to consider when retooling their IT environments with a modern ERP backbone: scalability, integration and data.

The cloud provides scale

In the aged care sector, where providers are struggling to keep up with demand, adding new sites and customers is made much more difficult by legacy systems that cannot scale – up and down – rapidly. Many aged care providers have discrete on-premise solutions managing each of their facilities. The economics of adding hardware and increasing database capacity at each site to accommodate more customers quickly becomes untenable in terms of cost and support resources.

Cloud computing offers aged care organisations, both big and small, the opportunity to scale their computing resources simply and cost effectively whenever it is necessary. Hosted solutions provide auto-scaling capabilities, which means providers only pay for what they use.

Scalability is necessary not only in terms of infrastructure – computing power and storage – but also at the platform and software levels. Using the cloud, it is easier and faster to develop applications – including mobile apps – and provision staff with the tools they need to do their job.

Left hand talking to the right

A cloud-based ERP deployment not only enables rapid scaling, it facilitates real-time visibility of the aged care facilities each provider operates. An integrated suite of software modules, such as SAP provides, enables aged care providers to view costs in real time, improves management reporting for better performance analysis and stimulates better management practices.

When core back office processes are integrated, coordinated and effective aged care service delivery and planning is much easier to achieve. Unfortunately, many providers operate a range of different systems that do not talk to each other. If financial data is not integrated with rostering or procurement, for example, it is difficult to manage billing and occupancy effectively.

The change to consumer directed care means that aged care providers are now adding extra services as a way of differentiating themselves from competitors. These new services need to be scheduled, rostered and billed out to the consumer, a task that can quickly become a planning and budgeting nightmare without adequate integration between key business processes.

Better data, better insight

The plethora of discrete systems that aged care providers currently use to run their various sites and services makes planning and budgeting tasks very difficult to achieve with any degree of accuracy. Once back office processes are integrated and optimised within a centralised database, service care providers will begin to see the real value of data driven decision-making.

Onboarding new services to capture more revenue is only successful if those services are appropriate to the needs of the provider’s customer base. Without the capability to integrate data, analyse it and report on it to discover cross-selling opportunities, providers will struggle to know whether the services they are offering are the right fit for their customers. Customer intimacy is key when it comes to meeting service delivery expectations, and it can only be achieved when CRM data is accurate, integrated and actionable.

The secret to success

The success of individual aged care suppliers in an evolving market depends on their ability to run their business efficiently, whilst providing market-leading services to their customers. The right ERP technology platform will assist these organisations to enhance their quality of care, improve financial sustainability and achieve long-term patient-provider loyalty.

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