COVID-19 and the Royal Commission are the resets aged care needs


By Greg O’Loan, Regional Vice President ANZ, Epicor
Wednesday, 09 December, 2020



COVID-19 and the Royal Commission are the resets aged care needs

Digital transformation and rapid acceleration of technologies often means some get left behind. Unfortunately, the ones lagging are often those industries that would benefit most from digitisation because they are essential to our society’s wellbeing. Aged care is one of those industries — an essential service trailing far behind other industries when it comes to technology — including other areas of the healthcare sector.

COVID-19 has brought to light glaring gaps in communication, connectivity, operational efficiencies, customer experience and quality of care that we can’t ignore anymore.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which will release its final report in February 2021, has already highlighted similar gaps and warned about the need to shake up the aged-care sector and restore trust.

Grant Thornton’s National Head of Health & Aged Care Darrell Price recently shared current trends — and notwithstanding outcomes from the Royal Commission — that Commonwealth spending on aged care is expected to double as a share of the economy by 2055. He also pointed out the uncertainty in the sector from inconsistent budgetary allocations and incoming reforms — both outcomes of the Royal Commission and COVID-19.

Technology needs to be a part of these priority investments, and will ultimately also help the sector cut costs and upgrade efficiencies while improving care and supporting staff.

The Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC) has even put together an official dedicated Technology Roadmap to help the Australian aged-care sector ramp up its much needed digitisation agenda and build more resilience in the face of those major risk factors.

An ultradigitised and connected world calls for ‘connected care’ services built with residents and staff in mind

We’ve never been more connected than today. No matter the industry, technology has completely transformed how we live, how we work and how businesses operate.

Residential care, home care and retirement living providers need to get on board with the reality of today’s digitised world if they want to remain unforgotten and deliver care that is of high quality and fit for purpose.

We need to look at ways to use new technology to provide truly resident-centric care as well as effective communication and collaboration amongst staff and key stakeholders. Here we can keep residents connected with their families despite physical distancing, and improve operational efficiencies and save costs to address resources issues.

Effective communication is of particular importance as this has proven to have a major impact on both residents and clients’ mental wellbeing. Moreover, improvements can also be seen within staff productivity and the ability to provide care that is adapted to each individual.

Technology is the most cost-effective and simplest way to solve that problem. But it’s not the only positive outcome it can achieve.

Making the right technology investments to improve care and support staff in 2021

When looking at which technology investments to make in 2021, residential care, home care and retirement living providers need to first look at what is most needed within their organisation from an operational perspective and prioritise areas that could achieve the most benefits for staff, residents, clients, their families and other key stakeholders.

From an operational and cost perspective for example, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can help predict trends of beds based on trends and availability within an aged-care facility and thus help improve planning.

Technology also helps automate accounts receivable, procurement, admin and financing, which ultimately reduces manual errors, improves efficiencies and saves substantial operational and administration costs.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to monitor everything from fall alarms to tracking mobility devices, sensors that monitor temperature and more, thus helping deliver personalised and preventative care.

Collaboration and connectivity tools are also affordable and effortless ways to improve connections between residents and their families, as well as communication among staff and between third-party stakeholders.

We’ve even seen examples of AI-powered robots that are able to talk to dementia patients for repetitive conversations, or smart TVs noticing patterns that can help address specific health problems.

Solutions also exist that develop smart rosters, including travel optimisation and mobility features for staff.

Ultimately, technology is here to help deliver high-quality and personalised care to residents and clients, while streamlining processes and control costs for an overall better experience for all.

The Australian aged-care system wasn’t built with the nation’s rapidly ageing population in mind — making it a challenge to cope with increasing demand. COVID-19 was the horrendous wake-up call and the Royal Commission was the shot of coffee we shouldn’t have needed. Now it’s time to wake up and embrace the results as we move the industry closer towards a new era of digitised aged care.

Greg O’Loan, Regional Vice President ANZ, Epicor.
Epicor Software Corporation provides flexible, industry-specific software designed to fit the precise needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail and service industry customers.

Main image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Africa Studio

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