Technologies and innovations to help older people and the aged care sector are developing at a rapid rate, especially as we adapt to life in a COVID-normal world, however, aged care has been relatively slow in the uptake of new technologies and the returns they offer.
A White Paper from global solutions provider, ASCOM, found that aged care providers are lagging behind in adopting new technologies within their businesses, which is making them lose out on the returns they could be getting from these types of investments.
ASCOM, in collaboration with ageing network – Ageing Asia, discovered that all of their Asia respondents to the White Paper, ‘How to measure Return on Investment (ROI) in Aged Care Technology?‘, only had a minimum of 5% spend put aside for technology adoption and advancement.
As the aged care sector faces ongoing workplace shortages, the need to utilise assistive technologies and digitalised systems is incredibly apparent to ensure providers are getting the return they need and staff are utilised to their full potential.
So why is the sector so slow adapting to new technology and how can this be improved?
The Netherlands and Asia are paving the way for how technology is used in aged care, but every country has its unique environment, which means the needs of older people can vary.
This factor affects the outlook providers have on the Return of Investment (ROI) from technology. And some stereotypes – like older people being slow and technologically illiterate – further hinder the uptake.
ASCOM’s White Paper found there were key concerns from aged care providers about introducing technology and advancements to their business model, including improving health outcomes and operational costs, benchmarking, and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
To address these concerns, more investors have begun putting their money into digital health and medical technology startups to develop assistive aids, like telemedicine and virtual care.
ASCOM’s Head of Regional Market, Adam Jaffe, said with so many options available, aged care providers need to be future-proofing their businesses through technology investment.
“COVID, I believe, has put a positive light on the benefit of technology and the need for it.
“There have already been investments in the past, so [it is about] not losing out on what has been implemented, but also ensuring that the technology is working for the facilities rather than working for the technology.”
Providers worldwide are looking to use technology to help staff provide better and more timely care – and as organisations look to improve their overall innovative approach and efficiency, investing in technology has proven beneficial for both aged care staff and residents.
The paper had an example of how a Singaporean provider saw improvements in efficiency, productivity and communication after introducing technological aids.
These aids also provided staff more time to interact with residents, and residents had more freedom and mobility.
Technology was also responsible for improving staff’s development of capabilities, service delivery, and attracted a wider breadth of workers into the sector.
Mr Jaffe confirmed there have been many positive outcomes in the industry as a result of the latest digital technology advancements.
“With the help of newer and more advanced care tools, elderly residents can receive even better care solutions, increasing safety while simultaneously promoting the mobility and independence of residents,” he said.
“Administrative systems that have traditionally been paper-based are now benefiting from the improved security and efficiency being provided by automation, enabling more time for caregivers to focus on their residents.
Helpful technologies seen overseas in Singapore include an Autonomous Cleaning Robot to keep common areas clean and an Autonomous Dis-infection Robot to disinfect high touch points like railings.
Per year, these robots saved one provider almost $40,000 Singaporean dollars and boosted staff productivity by 135%.
There are some areas the study’s survey showed were safe bets to invest in when it came to assistive technology in aged care and improving ROIs.
Implementing new food technology, technological solutions for communication and engagement, and robotics would not only alleviate the workload of aged care staff, but the time it takes to complete related tasks on a daily basis.
Additionally, technology that focuses on operational management, like cloud-based systems, was also seen as a good return on investment for aged care facilities.
Mr Jaffe said, “Where ROI comes into play is by leveraging the technology to measure the improvements, such as improving communication and collaboration by delivering relevant alerts, messages and calls to the right people.”
“It first starts with translating the vision and strategy into technology – where are their gaps and what is the end goal – and breaking [that] up.”
Once you have an end goal in mind or a problem to fix, finding the right technology could be the key to fixing that problem while also giving you a beneficial return on investment.
To read the full White Paper, head to the ASCOM website.