Technology; relieving the pressure pot that is the current care sector
Published 11/07/2016 by Nick Wilson, Managing Director, Public Sector, Health and Care, Advanced
In the previous blog in this series of posts, written to coincide with the launch of our new white paper: Growing Pressure in the Care Sector, we looked at some of the factors that are putting UK care providers under pressure.
The three main issues facing care providers in 2016 are:
- Rising costs and diminishing budgets whilst maintaining service provision;
- The pressure to digitise and modernise care organisations in line with the Government’s ‘Digital by Default’ strategy;
- The growing compliance and data security burden.
In this final article in the series, we’ll talk about how we’re working to help care organisations improve visibility of their internal processes, and put new solutions in place to drive efficiencies.
Achieving operational efficiency
Above all, the key priority for most care organisations has been to find a way to do more with less. What this means, in practical terms, is looking at how to reduce the time it takes to perform core yet basic functions more efficiently, give better and faster access to information at the point of delivery, and allow the ongoing monitoring and tracking of services.
At a basic level, this means migrating physical records to online repositories and making access to digital records simple and easy yet also adhering to security requirements. As a next step, it means pulling central processes - payroll, billing, HR and document managements systems - into one integrated infrastructure; to create one single view of your organisation. Right now, there’s huge interest within the care community for clever solutions to fix specific needs.
Mobile technology definitely has its place within the healthcare sector; driving innovation and efficiencies into the way care can be delivered. As you’ll read in the white paper Fairways is great example here; Advanced’s Caresys Mobile has given care workers easy and secure electronic access to patient information and care schedules using tablet devices, at the point of care.
Cloud computing, too, has freed care organisations of all kinds from the need to host basic processes physically. By hosting data-heavy systems in the cloud, care providers are becoming more agile and responsive, they’re also able to reallocate much needed budgets and, crucially, be assured they’re using the latest software and security updates.
So what’s the business case for integration?
Where we see care providers making the biggest advances is when they truly integrate their organisations’ systems and processes to create one single version of the truth. We are working with a number of large care providers who are making significant savings, and driving major improvements by integrating their care management and business processes with Advanced.
With care management at the hub of an IT infrastructure, providers are able to view every operational area from one platform and make necessary adjustments to reduce waste or improve efficiency. By putting carer schedules online and mapping them to required skills, it’s easier to match the needs of the available care workforce. Many care organisations do not have a single view of their workforce which often results in unnecessary expenditure on agency staff to fulfill perceived shortfalls.
By integrating HR, staff rosters and payroll systems, the data within can better inform managers about the level of experience that exists. Managers can see where there’s a need to increase workforce, and how much budget exists to fulfil the need. By giving teams this visibility, they are less likely to turn to agency staff.
Crucially, with care provision now managed locally, there is a greater number of external companies involved which care providers have to deal with. Add to this the complexity of managing individual care plans, there’s a real need for providers to simplify document management procedures and CRM methodologies; linking contact information with internal financial systems for a 360 degree view.
Finally, and most importantly, greater scrutiny and evolving legislation means that care providers are required to provide evidence that the services they provide are of the correct standard, and that they are abiding by new data protection laws. By integrating internal systems, it’s possible to keep a tighter control - and record - of your organisation’s activities - and to ensure you’re compliant.
Increasingly, we are getting feedback from organisations about their need to make complicated processes simpler. The care sector is one where we feel we can make a significant difference by driving real efficiencies, savings and growth.
We’d love to hear your experiences, so please do get in touch.
George Thaw, Managing Director, Health & Care - Advanced