From Analog to Digital: The Journey Ahead for Aged Care Providers

21 February 2024

Australia's aged care sector stands at a crossroads, facing exceptional challenges and opportunities. We see a significant role for technology in addressing the sector's most pressing issues in 2024. These include staffing pressures, quality and safety performance, and ensuring the wellbeing of Australia's elderly population whilst remaining profitable (or at least, financially viable).

More than ever before, clients require a higher level of care which in turn, requires access to more skilled carers. One of the most pressing challenges facing the Australian aged care sector is a shortage of skilled healthcare professionals and caregivers. The demand for these professionals is outstripping supply, which makes it increasingly difficult and costly to provide the necessary level of care for an aging population with a preference towards self-directed and in-home solutions.

Given this situation, it is imperative for providers to implement efficient technologies to streamline operations and free up staff for more direct care work. Technological improvements may include:

Workforce Management: Streamline staff management, improve training, and enhance communication among care teams.

Client Care Self-Management: Empower clients to manage their own care, to the extent possible, and foster greater independence and autonomy. Online portals and mobile apps provide clients and their families with real-time access to care plans, schedules, and progress reports.

Operational Automation: Automation of repetitive administrative tasks can significantly reduce administrative burdens and operational costs, allowing providers to allocate their resources more efficiently and focus on delivering high-quality care.

Integrated Support: Holistic consumer records can play a pivotal role in connecting various elements of an individual’s care, including medical, social, and emotional wellbeing, to provide holistic and individualised support.

Clinical Management: Automated medication-dispensing systems with electronic medication records can reduce human errors and improve overall clinical management, ensuring residents receive accurate and timely doses.

To date, there has been relatively low adoption of technology-enabled business systems across the aged care sector. [1] In our experience, many providers have not yet adopted advanced technology solutions (beyond a finance and payroll system) because they do not have the following:

  • A data governance framework which helps the organisation gain a clear understanding of its data collection, storage, uses, quality control, ownership and measurement in the context of its current and future technology adoption.

  • An information systems and technology strategy document—as well as an architecture plan in place—which  provides direction for technology solutions to meet a provider’s objectives, ensuring alignment, scalability, and efficient use of very limited resources.

These governance documents are critical to helping an organisation prepare for the implementation of technology solutions. Our data advisory specialists have assisted several clients with these solutions to great effect. Without these, many organisations struggle to implement technology solutions within budget, on-time and with end-user acceptance.

In the aged care sector’s evolving technological landscape, preparedness is the key to seamless technology adoption. Many providers are finding themselves at a crossroads, caught between the allure of advanced technology and the complexities of its integration. The absence of a robust data governance framework and a comprehensive information systems and technology strategy can severely impede an organisation’s transition to modern digital solutions.

If your organisation is looking for a smooth transition to the digital age, governance tools must be prioritised. Take proactive steps today and invest in developing critical frameworks to propel your organisation confidently into the future of technology-enabled care.

[1] Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council, “Innovation Driving Care Systems Capability” Final Report (2020)