How technology is boosting aged-care outcomes at ARP

By Eric Anderson, CEO, Adventist Retirement Plus
Thursday, 19 August, 2021

How technology is boosting aged-care outcomes at ARP

We often hear that developing a strategy for digital transformation comes down to how it’s ultimately going to benefit customers. This makes digital innovation in health care an incredibly high-stakes endeavour, as our ‘customers’ are the men, women and children that we treat and care for every day.

This ethos underpins our digital strategy at Adventist Retirement Plus (ARP), as a longstanding provider of retirement accommodation and aged-care services in Southern Queensland.

Previously an organisation with limited IT expertise and a lot of manual, paper-based processes, we recognised a huge opportunity to modernise some core services and foster improved outcomes for over 400 residents and home-care clients.

This proved challenging for a variety of reasons. We had infrastructure that wasn’t business grade, and we were relying on a wide range of diverse, disparate applications and unintegrated processes to get things done.

Stitching these systems together took a huge amount of manual effort, as teams were spending two or three days a month purely on reconciliation of data, ensuring that transactions were consistent across systems. It also required a lot of manual data entry, with staff required to take notes on resident care with pen and paper and manually entering that into a computer system. On the finance side, all key invoices and documents were being paper filed, making it difficult for staff to quickly access the information they needed, when they needed it.

As we were moving into the home-care space, we also needed a solution that used a common-platform, single-client record, and a finance system that was all tightly integrated with clinical systems.

We decided to craft an ICT roadmap that would support these goals, culminating in a cloud-based finance and asset management platform, delivered through SAP’s Business ByDesign ERP platform and Health Metric’s eCase.

The focus was on giving our staff more time with our residents, with an uptick in time availability achieved through less duplication of work. It also supported expansion efforts, which were typically hampered by inefficient software and infrastructure.

Solving challenges through strategic planning and support

No digital transformation project is free of challenges, so crafting a forward-looking plan to account for these is critical.

One challenge that we anticipated from the early stages was around change management. While it was obvious that the old solution was out of date, slow and took a lot of effort to navigate around, adapting to new processes can be difficult for staff.

There is always going to be a cohort of people who are used to the old systems and processes and will passionately argue their superiority, despite whether that’s true or not.

The key for us has been to involve everyone within the transformation process right from the beginning, taking their feedback at every step of the implementation process. This wasn’t limited to the C-suite and board. We had mid-level managers reviewing the products we were considering buying, right at the beginning.

It's about getting widespread feedback from across the organisation as to which product was going to work best for everyone, which gave people a vested interest in ensuring the transformation was a success.

Delivering outcomes with guidance from the right partners

SAP and Health Metric’s joint solution has totally transformed our finance management processes. Our staff can now more quickly and easily find and share relevant information, and we’ve seen a tangible rise in the time our staff can spend with residents as a result.

Some of the key outcomes for our staff and residents include:

  • Automated provision of information, with reports automatically generated and sent to stakeholders on a timely basis.
  • Comprehensive integration of finance and asset management function with our other core systems and services, reducing data reconciliation activities.
  • A far higher standard of security across the board, with two-factor authentication and single sign-on enabled throughout the ICT ecosystem.

DXC assisted us with the implementation and the integration of eCase and SAP, and our transformation journey was largely guided by IT Integrity.

With a vendor-neutral approach and a lot of experience in the aged-care sector, DXC developed a thorough understanding of ARP’s business and co-designed a solution that worked for our specific goals.

One of our most important learnings has been to take things one step at a time.

Digital transformation isn’t one herculean task to be tackled all at once. It’s about starting small and building from there, with a vision in mind.

Developing an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve helped us deliver a transformation that’s had a real impact on our residents. It underpins our ‘resident first’ ethos and serves as a great starting point for building a roadmap for the future.

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