The aged care sector is in the midst of a seismic shift. While there is much optimism about the benefits that cloud and IoT technologies can bring to organisations providing care for the elderly and disabled the reality on the ground is more nuanced as revelations from the Royal Commission have demonstrated.
It remains the case that too many organisations are focused on short-term operational issues and not on building a digital foundation for future growth.
Paralleling the changes taking place within the higher education sector, ongoing healthcare reform measures in Australia, the United States and other parts of the world have had a direct impact on elder care providers.
Like students choosing where and how to pursue their studies, seniors and their family members have more options for healthcare providers and services now than ever before. And as the population of senior citizens increases, it becomes an even greater imperative for care providers to deliver services that meet the demands of digitally-savvy consumers.
A Growing, Evolving Market
Certainly there’s a lot at stake. We know that our population is aging. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that one in every seven people in Australia is now age 65 or older. And the United Nations’ World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision states that the number of people aged 60 and over in the world (962 million estimated last year) is expected to more than double by 2050.
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Such growth puts even more pressure on elder care providers to develop scalable, effective services.
As our entire population becomes more digitally savvy, aged citizens and their families will expect care providers to be just as digitally modern. Like all customers these days, elder care clients will, for example, expect mobile and IoT-based services, such as wearables and other health monitoring devices.
Aged Care Providers Face Common Issues
However, for a variety of reasons, many aged care providers are hesitant to adopt the new technologies needed to offer these experiences. There are a number of common challenges that may be holding care providers back.
Budget Constraints: Much like higher education institutions, the majority of elder care providers literally cannot afford to make mistakes when implementing a new technology or system. Budgets are planned out well in advance, and there is often not enough money to cover all of the projects or initiatives in the pipeline. And with the fear of hidden project costs, business managers can have a hard time gaining funding for investing in a new technology.
Disparate Systems and Data Silos: Established care providers often have legacy or homegrown systems in place that have been cobbled together over the years. But to provide personalised, tailored services, you need new best-in-breed cloud and IoT technology offerings. The downside is that this often results in disconnected systems, tools and apps — and inconsistent or bad data. For care providers to succeed, they must bring that data together, eliminating silos to build a unified hybrid IT environment.
Scarcity of Technical Resources: With the exception of large enterprises, businesses do not typically have large IT or technical teams devoted to digital transformation initiatives. This lack of resources means that heavily customised solutions, which require significant time investments for day-to-day management, are not an option. Nor are apps that need extensive development and coding time.
Risk Aversion: Many care provider organisations are not-for-profit, and every action will be transparent and highly visible. Taking a chance on new technology can feel risky. And a fear of failure leads to extreme caution, as nobody wants to make a costly mistake that will impact the organisation’s ability to continue to operate.
These challenges may seem insurmountable. But modernisation might not be as difficult as you expect. Aged care providers can learn from the higher education organisations.
More and more higher education institutions are changing to keep pace with the rapid evolution of student data consumption, becoming connected campuses. Aged care providers can take a page from their book and learn how to digitally evolve while addressing financial and operational challenges.
Set Integration as Your Foundation: Integration is the foundation for transformation. Sharing data is just as important as gathering that data. Getting all your mission-critical data sources and endpoints talking to each other is a huge step towards business modernisation — and towards the 360-degree client view necessary for improving patient outcomes.
Save Costs With Cloud Technology: Conveniently, the pay-as-you-go model made possible by cloud technologies is the perfect fit for the typical constraints experienced by elder care providers. Using a cloud-native integration platform also eliminates any need for infrastructure investments or management costs, simplifying the budgeting process.
Choose COTS, Not Bespoke: Rather than spending more time and money on a bespoke system, consider commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology offerings. This is a fast, easy and affordable way to gain a tailored solution that will be easy to learn, allowing your team to get up to speed quickly without extensive training or additional resources.
Clicks, Not Code: Low-code or no-code solutions such as Boomi’s integration cloud are both simpler and faster to deploy than traditional on-premises integration tools. The speed of a modern integration platform provides quick ROI that budgets demand.
There are a number of benefits to being a more connected business. For elder care providers, the ability to offer personalised services and better care not only helps people, but will help you stay relevant and competitive. In an industry where prospective clients have an ever-expanding array of choices, you can’t afford to stay idle.
That’s where Boomi can help. Customers and partners around the globe are using Boomi in all sorts of ways to improve patient outcomes through cloud and the IoT. Here are a couple of examples that illustrate some of the possibilities.
About the author
Steve Muir-McCarey is Boomi’s enterprise account executive in the Asia-Pacific region. Boomi, A Dell Technologies Business is a member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their expertise and insights for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.