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TECHNOLOGY & SOFTWARE Embracing Change


With a people-focused approach to digital transformation, residential care providers can avoid the pitfalls associated with IT projects and make the most of powerful new cloud-based soſtware solutions that are now available, says David Kelly, General Manager, Deputy EMEA.


These projects fail when they focus on the technology rather than the outcome. Happily, there’s much less need to focus on technology today, because cloud-based solutions mean there is no longer any need to code, design or build anything from scratch. Everything a transformation needs is available in the cloud, ready to implement and customise.


So, the best way to think about digital transformation is to forget the word ‘digital’ and see it as a people transformation. Ultimately, what you’re doing is changing the way people work for the better, using ready-made tools. Your employees’ experience is why you’re doing it; technology is just the ‘how’. The project should be built around people and their needs.


Two years ago, the healthcare sector was the second biggest spender on IT, coming in just behind financial services. Yet research around the same time revealed that 70% of tech projects in healthcare didn’t achieve their strategic goals. It’s therefore no surprise that managers in residential care can oſten be wary of embarking on ‘digital transformation’ or using digital technology and data to improve how your organisation works.


But today, these managers are under pressure to digitise, from all sides. The CQC’s inspection regime is moving towards more remote monitoring of data, which means care providers will need to have their data both digitised and readily accessible. The COVID pandemic has forced providers to rapidly embrace technology, whether it’s widespread use of Zoom or tracking carers to report for contact tracing. The venture capital-backed investors in the sector tend to both bring along and encourage digitisation. And the last and perhaps most significant source of pressure comes from care providers themselves: digital technology is a potential way for them to save money and be more efficient as they seek to close funding gaps.


The prize is worth having. As many providers have already found, digitisation can feed through into a better experience for staff, which translates into better care for residents. By helping employees to work more efficiently, it also delivers bottom-line savings. One large residential care provider reduced staffing agency costs by more than 15% through app- based workforce management alone. And because it can make essential data up to date and available, digitisation can also ease the burden of CQC compliance.


FORGET ‘DIGITAL’ AND FOCUS ON PEOPLE


However, given that this drive for digitisation is set against a poor track record of success in healthcare settings, how should residential care providers go about it?


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Transformation is also about reinvention, not replacement. It’s not a question of taking something paper-based and putting it online, because that in itself may not solve the problem. It’s about deciding what needs to change, and then using all the capabilities of digital tools to make things work better, so you get true benefit from digitisation.


FOUR STEPS TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION THAT WORKS IN HEALTHCARE


This approach to digital transformation is designed with people and reinvention in mind, and has been proven to work in healthcare organisations.


SET A CLEAR, STEP-BY-STEP STRATEGY AND ENSURE BUY-IN


Digital transformations fail when they try to do too much too soon. What’s important is not to try and ‘boil the ocean’ but to break the plan down into manageable, prioritised chunks. For example, one hospice provider laid out a three-year plan that began by updating essential hardware such as laptops, then put in place people systems such as HR and staff scheduling before finally updating back-office systems such as finance and payroll.


This people-first approach meant that care staff, who had a voice in the plan, felt that the transformation was being done for them, not ‘to’ them. Even though scheduling was entirely digitised, staff were still able to print out their schedules, an ability they had strongly wanted to keep. A digital readiness survey is a good way to find out which analogue tasks are better kept that way.


The structured plan also needs buy-in. The executive team must be able to see the business benefit; and employees need to understand in plain, non-technical language how it’s going to help them spend less time on low-value work and more time on resident care.


www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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