| Share

Technology in the Care Industry – An Inevitable Reality

Care providers will need to access new technologies in their customer care and management operations

The Aged Care sector in Australia is moving forward at a rapid pace as market demands create the need for a more consumer-centric system. The Aged Care Roadmap, released in 2016, highlights a number of these issues, including aged care funding, investment sustainability and growth, changing consumer preferences, and workforce and skills requirements.

The Roadmap recognises the need to provide quality and sustainable aged care services in the future and represents a considered view by industry and key stakeholders on the long-term path for a consumer-driven and market-based system.

In order to address these challenges and provide these services in an efficient manner, care providers will need to access new technologies in their customer care and management operations wherever possible. Unfortunately, the traditional nature of the care sector hampers faster adoption of technology that can aid in educating healthcare workers and easing the administration and operation of the care facilities.

According to the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC), the care industry must harness the power of technology to make the delivery of age services more affordable and enable older Australians to live in their homes longer. “The answer is not simply more resources, since resources are both scarce and finite. Instead, it is about making greater use of information and communications technology (ICT) to help the entire system deliver high quality and accessible care. To meet future needs, ICT investments need to be closely integrated to encompass the needs of providers, consumers and careers.”

The council views ICT as a key enabler that allows providers to deliver CDC and support personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR), including the use of mobility, analytics and cloud-based offerings. The report states that the “current focus on industry reform – particularly through the federal government’s ‘Living Longer Living Better’ reform package – provides an excellent opportunity for providers and government to expand their use of ICT.”

Synchrony Global, a leading Human Capital Management (HCM) technology solutions provider in the Asia Pacific region and a partner of SAP SuccessFactors, is focused on helping address this gap. Recently, one of Australia’s largest community-based seniors lifestyle and care providers, the IRT Group, turned to Synchrony to accelerate the transition of the company’s people management and administration to a cloud-based performance driven system.

IRT has been creating optimum quality of life communities for seniors for 45 years. The changing needs of their customers and staff dictated that they continue to be innovative and dynamic while remaining true to their foundation. Thus, their focus in caring for their workforce was as important as the quality of service that they provide to the people that they care for.

The IRT Group successfully adopted SAP SuccessFactors Performance and Goals Management putting forward one of the biggest people challenges that they have in aligning their people’s culture and performance in the day-to-day operation of their care facilities vis-à-vis the business goals and direction that the company is envisioning – “Building the Business of Tomorrow through innovation and Improving the Business of Today through changes in people culture with the adoption of technology.”

The IRT Group partnered with Synchrony to implement SAP SuccessFactors talent management suite, including Performance and Goals, and Learning, and integrating it with the longer-term plan of adopting Employee Central to efficiently manage its people towards the achievement of its business goals.    

“Synchrony Global…a small, nimble and pretty agile outfit, were quite prepared to work with us on accelerated timeframes. They quickly, through our early conversations, demonstrated that they understood our business, they understood the need to move quickly, and we were prepared to work in their approach as well,” said Campbell McGlynn. “They are the type of business partners that care providers need to accelerate the achievement of business plans especially in regard to technology adoption.”

IRT’s 2,500 employees services more than 10,000 customers in NSW, the ACT and south-east Queensland. This is just a fraction of the sizeable workforce that directly employs more than 350,000 workers representing around 238,000 full-time-equivalent jobs in 2014-15, according to a study made by Deloitte. These jobs fill a diverse range of roles, from nurses and care workers to management and administrative staff. The aged care sector also draws on a large network of volunteers whose numbers are not included in the measured workforce and whose efforts are not included in measures of economic contribution.

So, what does this mean?

The Care industry is an industry within the Australian economy that is poised to grow substantially into the future, with new capital investment by the residential aged care sector reaching $1.7 billion in 2014-15 alone. Public funding to support access to aged care services will also grow quickly; the 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget has already committed $17.8 billion to support aged care services during the 1016-17 financial year.

But more importantly, technology and solutions providers must partner with care providers to prioritize the need of the care industry workforce. Aged care providers that are unable to meet preferences for increasingly personalised, specialised and complex care in a more consumer-centric market may not be viable in the future. 

The aged care sector must use technology to facilitate the labour-intensive components of service provision, and deliver aged care services in a more efficient fashion. New technologies can be used to improve patient management practices and monitor residents in a less intrusive manner. 

The bottom line is technology in human capital management is an inevitable reality that can greatly improve efficiency in administration thereby creating more time for actual care-giving.