Advances in healthcare and connected technologies, funding changes, and increased scrutiny via regulation are exerting significant pressure on the systems, processes and infrastructure of Aged (Residential) Care and Home (Community) Care providers.
Our recommendations for Aged Care Industry Technology Transformation:
- Don’t underestimate the level of disruption to your organisation
- Understand your responsibilities, especially compliance
- Build for the future
- Don’t rely entirely on the promises of vendors and developers – seek independent advice.
A little late to the digital disruption, the industry has a chance to learn from the experience of other sectors. Importantly, don’t just play catch-up … look to the future.
Establish your back end systems for future growth and technology. Consider how your back-end systems will cope with new requirements and technologies. Yes, you must automate and modernise your technology infrastructure, but you also need to set your organisation up to take advantage of mobility, IoT, data analytics and other possibilities. Think carefully about what IT foundations you must lay to embrace future technologies, seamlessly. As part of this process, you’ll need to consider using the Cloud.
Don’t underestimate the disruption. Cloud has been around for a while but it is still a disruptive technology, which requires a deeper analysis of your organisation’s needs than previous innovations. Do your homework carefully, because the assumptions you make about people, processes and costs are critical to your organisation’s successful move to the Cloud and to achieving the benefits.
Understand your responsibilities. People commonly regard health information as one of the most sensitive types of personal information, so it’s a hot button issue in terms of reputation management and securing consumer trust. It is absolutely critical that you consider data security and sovereignty.
When it comes to security, you are responsible for security “in” the cloud while your infrastructure provider (IaaS) is responsible for security “of” the cloud. Above all, understand your responsibilities in relation to your contractors. There are laws and regulations governing the management of some types of data, such as personal health data. Your suppliers must support you with relevant SLAs, but compliance is a responsibility that cannot be completely delegated. Last October, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service unwittingly claimed the crown for the country’s biggest ever data breach when its website partner Precedent accidentally exposed 1.28 million records. What does it mean if a bungle by your IT partner exposes your clients’ data? The legislation says that if more than one entity holds the same personal records, a breach at one could constitute a breach at the other.
Where you store personal health information becomes an issue when moving to public cloud, because there are regulations around data sovereignty. Even the presence of data centres in Australia may not be sufficient, because you may have little control over which data centres your provider uses. You will likely need a hybrid solution (part public, part private Cloud) so you can maintain control and data sovereignty where regulations require.
Don’t rely entirely on vendors to recommend appropriate solutions. It may cause you to overlook some crucial gaps, choose the wrong combination of offerings or even the wrong provider. Ask for advice about compatibility, security, control and costs from a range of experts, before choosing and adopting new technology into your business.
The same caution and homework is required when purchasing or commissioning your end user apps.
Along with mobility, IoT, connected devices, and wearables, comes data capture, data accessibility, data analytics and ultimately the integrity of data required for healthcare and clinical situations.
Prioritise reliable, robust data. You can’t afford errors and must manage your suppliers accordingly.
- Require that the design and test phase be executed with an appropriate standard of care. In some cases medical industry/clinical approval may be mandated.
- Ensure technology is designed with the end user in mind. Applications designed for aged client use must be built to recover if there is an outage or a human error, for example due to failing eyesight or loss of dexterity. When your user’s health and/or well-being depend on accuracy (such as scheduled measurements or medicine taking) it is critical that an application doesn’t reset to the wrong day or event.
- Security of transmission is essential. Encryption and protocols must be able to deliver the right packets, in correct order and – depending on the type of application – in a timely fashion, as delays could prove fatal. And this is before you even take into account the dependability of the transmission technology.
Integrating new technology into any organisation presents challenges around the technology itself – which systems, apps, vendors to choose – as well as around the level and speed of change in the people and processes affected across the organisation. Aged care and home care providers will need to rely on seasoned CIOs and IT teams in combination with trusted technology partners to see them through this period of change.
David Robinson, Consulting Director, Envisian took part in the Aged Care and Technology Panel, held in Sydney on 14 June, 2017. This post includes extracts from his presentation.