Jan 24, 2017

Aged Care: how the digital economy is delivering key benefits to consumers and providers

The digital economy and growing momentum surrounding information sharing in society, means the ability to build a truly robust chain of custody of care with a solid feedback loop within the aged care system is now possible at a far lower cost and in a much more distributed fashion than it was even a decade ago.

“Consumers need a quality rating system” – a ‘Trip-advisor’ styled one for aged care. It’s a statement that has been highlighted not only by government officials, peak consumer bodies and aged care providers alike, which is putting the consumer or the elderly person at the centre of their care.

CarePage the next generation dynamic directory and consumer rating system, has a number of similarities to ‘Trip-advisor’, yet still a number of differences to ensure that we have taken into account the sensitivities of the industry. Whilst at all cost making sure we have been inclusive of all key stakeholders prepared to engage with us.

We spent 12 months researching, testing and undergoing pilot projects with aged care providers to understand what all key stakeholders from residents in care, employees and providers wanted to see in such a rating system from seniors and their families to employees and aged care providers.

In preparation for consumer directed care, understanding how your service is tracking from the eyes of the consumer has never been more important. CarePage is supporting businesses through private customer experience management tools and dashboards 365 days of the year to understand their customers and employees, and not just at accreditation time.

We have taken a measured approach, to move beyond a binary test of performance to reintroduce the consumer as the primary stakeholder/end user, the ultimate beneficiary of the provider’s services. Providing valuable insights, whilst making sure we address the issues around leaving anonymous feedback, which is a significant concern in the healthcare system across the board.

CarePage is seeking to promote a rising tide of well performing facilities, rather than single out the weakest facilities. Showcasing excellence in care and promoting an aspirational culture towards improving the quality of care is the primary objective of CarePage.

After all, excellence in care is ultimately a reflection of outstanding leadership at a management level, commitment at a clinical level and a culture of innovation across an organisation.

While under performing facilities are always an issue, CarePage’s mission of focusing on aspirational excellence—done through benchmarking, measurement of indicators, supporting change management and education of the power of digital media and all round engagement—makes possible a relationship between residents and facilities to address any issues before they develop into critical incidents.

This is something to be celebrated.

We believe such engagement benefits both the facility and residents as a way to truly make improvements in each facility, and the industry as a whole. This new digital social communication paradigm redefines economic incentives by reintroducing the voice of the consumer in the marketplace.

It elevates a consumer’s voice back to a point of equality and influence, meaning the resident not just the facility, becomes a key decision maker in assessing the level of care by a provider. This information is then delivered privately to the provider.

Last year, CarePage performed a study analysing over three hundred people’s experiences of aged care and found that the majority of residents and their loved were satisfied with their aged care facility, dispelling a common fear providers have about opening themselves up to consumer review.

Interestingly, friendliness of staff was rated as the highest performing factor; however, staff presence was rated as the lowest factor across the board. Which is reflective less so on the individual provider and more so on the government’s role to ensure the necessary funding is allocated to ensure the cost of care can be met by providers.

The government’s funding is not driving the quality benchmark of excellence residents deserve, so let the market set the standard through competition driven by consumer-generated sentiment, quality indicators and benchmarking.

To date, the processes in place have ensured that the care provided by facilities is good enough to satisfy a basic binary accreditation standard. Moving forward, with consumer directed care, there will be a greater emphasis to elevate and empower the consumer to define what is ‘good care’.

A focus of showcasing excellence to highlight excellent examples of care, rather than taking a whistle blower approach will create a tangible incentive to those operators that invest in ensuring and lifting the quality of care for their residents.

Thereby creating economic incentive in the ecosystem of aged care for genuine continuous improvement.

This is ultimately the only way the industry on a whole will achieve a sufficient level of change that all those that operate in the sector can be proud of and aspire to deliver.

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