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The role of technology in aged care continues to evolve as new pressures on the industry surface. An efficient, well-connected healthcare system is integral for older people living at home or in residential facilities, as well as their families and aged care workers.
This year, Adelaide-based healthtech company Lumary, enhanced functionality in its end-to-end healthcare platform, Lumary Care Management (Lumary CM). The software is specifically designed for Home Care Package (HCP) providers, covering complexities of compliance, streamlining daily tasks for aged care workers, managing organisational requirements, financial systems and more. Software like Lumary’s allows aged care workers to spend more time providing high-quality care and less time dedicated to tedious administration programs.
Perhaps the biggest win with Lumary CM is the transparency it enables – allowing all stakeholders, including the care recipient themself, care workers, family and friends – to access the platform and understand an older person’s needs and progress. This encourages better quality, customised care.
We speak to Peter Boyd, Lumary’s VP of sales, about how integral high-quality digital software is for the aged care industry. Boyd has been in the IT and management consulting industries for over 30 years, focusing his skills to assist the aged care and disability sectors.
Are we behind when it comes to aged care technology in Australia?
We are late adopters. We certainly aren’t very innovative or “out there” when it comes to technology in the aged care sector. Mainly because we haven’t been under the same pressures we find ourselves in now.
Providers in the aged care sector often question whether these kinds of technologies are really needed. Sometimes, providers go out in a rush and purchase technology without learning how to properly use it, or knowing what their aim is in the long term. As such, I believe we’ve by and large created a digital mess.
What are the challenges the aged care sector faces at this moment?
It varies depending on whether you’re looking through a residential aged care lens or community aged care lens. I note that segmentation because Lumary is more involved in community aged care.
One of the common challenges that spans across both areas is compliance. Especially the complex rules around HCPs. Royal Commissions have created new standards that all providers need to comply with – it’s not an option. You need to pass many audits and you don’t always get a lot of notice when regulators are dropping in to ensure you’re adhering to new standards.
The level of detail you need to produce to substantiate the fact you are compliant is not trivial. It’s not good enough to say you provided carers with information. Providers need to show evidence that staff members really understand the new requirements.
The competitive nature of customer-directive care is also a challenge. Commercial vs customer vs competition – getting that balance right. Some providers have been more commercial focused than customer focussed.
When it comes to residential aged care in Australia, 75% of older people don’t want to be in a nursing home. The simple fact is that they want to age in their own homes.
What are the benefits of Lumary CM software with HCP functionality? What gaps does it close?
Lumary brings a really fresh, modern, mobile-first cloud application that addresses all the complexities and funding rules associated with HCPs. Some software providers have underestimated these rules – they are mind-numbingly complicated.
Our team has experts with deep practical and legislative knowledge. People may have had lots of practical experience in aged care, but the new legislation and rules are different. You need a balance of knowledge on both sides.The government HCP requirements around leave management, level changes and income-tested fees are incredibly complicated.
It’s critical that the software is mobile-first because every stakeholder may need access to information at any time. It can be the aged person themselves checking on which carer is coming to see them at home and when they are visiting. They have the ability to see the carer’s specific skills or change the carer. As a loved one, I may want to know some of that information myself. My personal experience with my father, who was in a nursing home, was that I had no digital connection to what was going on. It was incredibly frustrating.
Lumary’s software is easy to use, it’s intuitive, with a user-friendly interface. People can enjoy using it and therefore accept it. It’s underpinned by Salesforce, which means the technical plumbing is taken care of by the world’s number one CRM provider and we can focus on things like legislation and the user experience.
For carers, it’s important to be able to access information that’s vital to their job at their fingertips. Things like risk when visiting someone’s home, for instance someone has a big dog so beware; knock on the front door, don’t go around the back. There’s also a record of information with past carers and services. Carers can also capture information instantly thanks to functions like voice to text.
Our job is to hide all the complexities and make things simple for carers and providers so they can focus less on the administrative overheads and compliance and do their job – which is to care, to feel, to nurture. Things that technology and machines can’t do but people do really well. Let the technology handle the stuff we do lousy and let us do the things we do well as carers.
What are the potential repercussions for providers not having adequate software in place?
With carers not having something like this in place means it’s really difficult to do their job. It overtakes care, which is exactly what we don’t want to happen. When you automatically capture information, you’re recording evidence and automatically demonstrating you’re compliant.
For service providers the main repercussion of not having adequate software is extinction. This isn’t an option, it’s gone past that. First thing providers need to do is accept that, otherwise they’ll need to be forced to adapt eventually. You can’t be sustainable under the current rules and requirements without going digital.
What are some of the issues that come with adopting new technologies?
An issue that springs to mind is the unrealistic expectations companies set when selling software. The aged care industry in Australia doesn’t have deep experience of how to assess and acquire technology. There are lots of well-trained salespeople that may try to convince potential customers that a particular software solution will do absolutely everything their organisation would ever need. Sometimes, the expectations set are enormous and almost impossible to realise in reality. Being clear and honest at the start encourages success.
The other thing is change. I’d say don’t underestimate the challenge of learning something new and getting everyone on board. We’ve got all sorts of demographics and ages working in this industry, some people aren’t necessarily familiar with these types of technologies. Providers need to clearly communicate the importance of an HCP software program and its benefits. Put as much effort into people from a management side as possible.
Why Lumary? What positive feedback do you commonly receive?
Our functional evaluations constantly rank very highly. As we’re maturing as a company, we’re not just an organisation where we design fit-for service software. We’re extending what we provide to our customers by sourcing and implementing partner software. It’s how we become a connected digital business as opposed to a digital mess. We’re trying to fix as many problems as we can. There are very few consulting companies that will also do systems integrations but we do as it’s a critical piece for effective transformation and long term success.
For more information about Lumary, you can visit their website
Image: hobo_018, iStock.
This article has been proudly sponsored by Lumary.