Feb 07, 2023
The Role of Automation in the Transformation of Aged Care
According to the World Health Organisation, the world’s 60 years and older population will roughly double. That will put significant pressure on the aged care industry to scale operations to care for an aging population while upholding care standards and running efficient and profitable organisations. One of the ways service providers can achieve this is by leveraging technologies like automation to work smarter, not harder.
Why Aged Care Providers Need to Look Into Automation
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recently published a report titled Care, Dignity, and Respect. In it, Royal Commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO call for the fundamental reform of the aged care system. The comprehensive report lays out what this reform might look like with 148 wide-ranging recommendations.
The primary goals of this reform would be:
- Redesign the client and resident journey
- Get creative with feedback collection mechanisms
- Action feedback immediately by building program awareness across the organisation
- Improve the employee experience
If implemented, the recommendations will force entities involved in aged care to rethink their relationship with technology fundamentally. That is done by leveraging technological advancements and new processes to improve service delivery. In this new era, compliance verification, digital transformation, and automation will be critical for success.
What Problems Are Australia’s Aged Care System Facing
The main underlying challenge facing the aged care system is changing demographics. Specifically, the senior population is growing, both in sheer numbers as well as as a percentage of the overall populace. This is not a unique problem to Australia, but one facing most of the developed world. Rising lifespans also mean that seniors need aged care for a longer timeframe.
The vast majority of aged care funding comes straight from the Australian Government. This includes paying the majority of aged care workers’ salaries. While it is subsidised to an extent, individuals are at least partly responsible for funding their own aged care.
With all this in mind, here are the current problems facing the aged care system as outlined by the report:
- The difficulty of entering and navigating the system
- The difficulty of accessing aged care services
- Access for disadvantaged groups
- Identifying and addressing sub-standard care and systemic problems
Many of these challenges can be addressed by encouraging aged care digital transformation. Automation, in particular, is one technology implemented in various ways today that can help overcome many of these challenges.
How Automation Can Help Overcome Challenges and Improve Aged Care
Here are some examples of what aged care automation could look like:
Automated notifications can help improve service delivery and compliance across the system. For example, automated notifications can facilitate guided onboarding, inductions, and document collection for care recipients and staff. Automated notifications can also prompt staff to complete compliance or care-related tasks.
Self-service portals can make accessing aged care faster and more convenient. It gives both patients access to 24/7 portals where they can get information, submit requests, directly engage aged care services, and track their status in the system. It can offer similar benefits to care provider staff to access information or action tasks relevant to the care they provide.
Workflows and Automated Processes
Automation greases the wheels in chained events, speeding up service delivery. For example, imagine a workflow for fulfilling a medical drug request. A patient, or primary care provider, can submit a request via an online portal.
The workflow system will automatically forward the request to the relevant stakeholders that need to approve/deny the request. With a simple click, the approver can allow the workflow to continue, maybe generating or sending a medication request to a supplier. Once the supplier accepts, the system will notify the necessary stakeholders and the patient that the request is approved and the medication is en route.
As you can see, this type of automation removes unnecessary friction at various points, including many manual tasks (like manually typing, sending, and following up on a request approval email), which could delay the process significantly.
Compliance and Governance
Compliance and governance will become increasingly important, particularly as a key part of the Royal Commission’s mandate to root out sub-standard care. Usually, enforcing this is an extremely tedious, frustrating, and time-consuming task. However, automation can also greatly streamline it while improving compliance with standards and governance measures.
Taking the approval workflow example above, automation compliance in aged care can “pre-approve” a request for medication. It can consider factors like the patient’s biodata, status, service plan, medical regiment, etc. It can help the approver by, for example, stating whether a patient is pre-approved based on criteria, whether the case needs further investigation, or whether there are black-and-white grounds for denial.
Similar compliance mechanisms can be built across the system, from how aged care partners interact with each other, their staff, and patients to the actions that can be taken using self-service portals.
What Do These Benefits Mean?
Many of these benefits have wide-ranging positive implications for patients, service providers, staff, and even governing bodies. Automated notifications and self-service portals can significantly unburden HR, for example. It also greatly streamlines many everyday operations which would otherwise require numerous mundane and manual interventions.
One of the positive outcomes of this will be a greater focus on meaningful work, particularly for frontline workers. By saving time usually eaten up by menial back-office tasks, they can focus their time and efforts where it’s needed – on their patients. These improvements will help providers directly achieve some of the report’s recommendations. For example, that care providers should spend at least 200 minutes daily with each resident while improving job satisfaction.
At the same time, by automating repetitive tasks, organisations can scale up and grow without letting their standards slip.
Rarely a technological advancement can help organisations achieve improvements on multiple fronts. If implemented correctly, automation can be a win for service providers, carers, and patients. If you want to learn more about how Intelligent Automation Services can improve your aged care service delivery, contact us today.