Operators in the aged care sector along with other disability providers find themselves responding to new challenges and pressures, not just from the Royal Commission, but also from more onerous regulatory rules around patient data privacy.
According to Deloitte Access Economics, “The Australian aged care sector is large and complex. From an economic perspective, it is one of Australia’s largest service industries, employing over 350,000 employees to deliver services to over one million people via some 2,000 service providers (ACFA, 2015).”
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In a report called “Australia’s aged care sector: economic contribution and future directions” the authors say the aged care sector also plays an important social role in providing older Australians with a variety of care options in the later stages of their lives.
And, it notes, “There is significant public involvement in the sector, with $17.8 billion of Commonwealth expenditure allocated to supporting aged care services in 2016-17.”
But with that level of public sector investment comes understandable calls for transparency, and those calls are getting louder and more prescriptive.
Many providers are finding that their antiquated systems, disparate and often manual information storage methods have become serious business impediments.
For this reason, smarter operators are starting to deploy new digital solutions to address these changed circumstances.
Unlike industries like banking and finance or utilities, many care organisations struggle with smaller IT teams and budgets yet still face many of the same fundamental data problems as other sectors.
There is a huge variation in terms of the quality of the systems in the sector including the level of integration between core systems such as finance and HR.
And over the last year, many operators received “please explain” letters from the Royal Commission into the industry which required them to go hunting for data.
That proved to be a wake-up moment for many executives who discovered that company data is often paper-based and stored in cardboard boxes industry cupboards.
Even where they have IT systems in place, these are often legacy solutions ill-suited for contemporary challenges.
Healthcare generally, but in most aged care companies specifically little has changed or improved on the system side for over a decade and often longer.
As companies emerge into the digital age, they are running into problems with the systems which are unable to cope with new demands and which lack the flexibility to allow the organisation to change quickly to respond in the kind of immediate fashion demanded by the commissioners.
While the Royal Commission has certainly provided an impetus for change, it is just the latest pressure point. The government had already provided new mandates around patient confidentiality and the treatment of patient data.
Often there is a lack of patient audibility and it is difficult to demonstrate compliance with the new procedures that the government has introduced. As providers have considered their responses to the challenges many have come to understand that they will struggle to comply with these new rules.
There are other drivers as well. Operators know they need to recalibrate around the mantra of customer service. That often involves buying best of breed software as a service solutions to deliver higher service levels to their customers. But these systems only really deliver if they have access to current and accurate data.
The demographics of an aging population means the demands higher service – and for more transparency – will only increase.
In the work Boomi is doing with its customers, we have found one of the most important improvements we can help them with is to help deliver an agile and easy to use middleware layer. That capability can be used to connect together the older legacy systems and unlock that data that’s stored in those them.
And of course, all this is happening in the context of new competitive threats that are emerging, for instance in the form of stay at home packages.
Integration is key
From the largest operators down to the smaller more niche providers, integration offers the opportunity to address many of these concerns.
By implementing an integration platform they are able to link finance, HR and other ERP systems together in a way that allows for the free flow of data, and help ensure that the data they are using to make decisions is current and accurate.
Boomi’s approach allows both large and smaller operators to address many of the challenges of integration. We take what is known as the ‘citizen integrator’ approach which does not require highly skilled, dedicated programmers in order to roll out an integration platform to connect systems.
Instead, it’s a drag and drop, widget-driven environment that is very quick and easy for anyone with basic data management process experience to pick up.
This allows even typical business analysts to pick up can start integrating systems very quickly and easily.
With demands for more transparency, greater accountability, and of course ever-improving customer service levels, the need for integration is only set to grow.
About this author
David Flaks is the enterprise account executive at Boomi, A Dell Technologies Business which is a member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.