Digital transformation is happening in aged care

By David O'Sullivan*
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019

Digital transformation is happening in aged care

Kylie Houlihan is passionate about transforming health and aged care.

As the Chief Health Transformation Officer for home care provider integratedliving, Houlihan is at the cutting edge of delivering better outcomes for people who are ageing and living with chronic illness while receiving care at home and having a positive impact on the local communities where they live and work.

As a provider working in regional, rural and remote communities, integratedliving offers personalised health management services ranging from domestic assistance and personal care to clinical services.

“Hospitals are not always the best place to be for older Australians and those with chronic illness, and they are costly and the journey at times long and disorienting,” Houlihan said.

“With the right approach some health crises can be avoided, and in the event of deteriorating health, if detected early can be managed in the home and community for better outcomes.

Embedding a new culture

Houlihan has been leading a dedicated health transformation unit since September last year, embedding a new culture across the business in the process.

“It’s been very successful,” she said. “We’re transforming the way we see our business to realise our vision to offer fully digitised and integrated community health services to people living in regional, rural and remote Australia that are affordable and deliver positive health outcomes and social impact.

“The business was already innovative. We now recognise it’s less about innovation and more about transformation through integration.

“Innovation has been in focus for the past 10 years and industry has embraced it. There is no shortage of great ideas; we now need to integrate those ideas at a systems level and scale it up — this is what leads to change.”

The change that Houlihan speaks of involves the use of intuitive technology and the data it holds to connect and better inform the people receiving care with those delivering the care in homes.

Kylie Houlihan. Image credit: ©Leah Desborough

Envisaging the future

Houlihan imagines in the not too distant future people being able to choose a service that offers personal health managers, health coaches, allied health services, medical providers, support workers and community support all working together through a consumer-directed managed service through what she calls digitally enabled points of care.

The points of care are embedded along the entire service chain, starting at the point where a person first identifies support they need through to when support is no longer required and every touch point in between.

“Digitising the service chain will enable new levels of insight not seen before.

Houlihan foresees a time when both the receiver and providers of care can consider their therapeutic choices based on the likely percentage impact a particular action will have on their health outcome in near real time regardless of location. This will enable more effective health coaching leading to more healthy behaviours.

“It is important that we monitor consenting individuals as they live to really understand the context of their health in real life. We have the technology and computing capability to safely and securely monitor and analyse vital signs, wellbeing, movement and the like.

“This also enables the receiver of care, their family and all providers to be party to the personal health management plan and to draw on collective intelligence and learning.

“Operating through a digital wellness hub you will be able to offer the same services virtually that today are offered only physically.

“The system gives the person more confidence because they know the signs. They’re not scared. They know when to respond and call their health manager.

“It also allows people to connect with others in the community for companionship.

“We have all the component parts of the system and are now working towards integrating it in a seamless user experience.”

A new model

Houlihan said that for the system to be adopted widely, current business models need to change from fee for service to more outcome-based, value-based business models.

“It’s imperative to capture data at the industry level so that we can understand the risks, understand what works and inform choice for the person.

“But we need to test. We need to provide industry with the ability to trial systems to scale. Piloting single ideas at small scale is not enough. For us, the focus is on getting a systems demonstrator up and running.

“Enough of us in industry share the vision, we just need to bring the collective together with the support of government as a partner.

“Let’s collaborate to build an affordable, high-quality, digitally enabled service delivery system.

“It will support individuals who are ageing and living with chronic illness and their families by meeting their changing needs and preferences regardless of where they live.

“It will provide a stimulating and rewarding career for the many providers dedicated to offering health management support while enriching communities.”

*David OSullivan is Senior Media & Communications Advisor for LASA.

Top image credit: © Images

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