“That level of expertise should be made available”: Calls for the aged care sector to hire digital health specialists

Nurse patient notes

Australia’s aged care sector should employ digital health specialists to make aged care technology flow more easily, according to The Australasian Institute of Digital Health.

“I would certainly suggest that you do need some people who specialise in digital health in the aged care sector and they should be embedded throughout organisations,” Dr Louise Schaper, CEO of the Australasian Institute, told the ITAC 2021 virtual conference on Tuesday.

As a panelist discussing technology responses to the royal commission’s recommendations, Dr Schaper said the workforce must be supported with training and upskilling, so the implementation of these technologies within aged care providers can move as smoothly and effectively as possible. 

“It’s not good enough to … send them to a digital health course and then that’s it. It needs to be embedded into the way that they work [and] into the way they practice, especially those whose … job is actually managing information,” she said.

“But at the same time, if it requires a nurse, doctor or care worker to have a high level of technical understanding, then we’re doing something wrong.”

Take reference of Google and Apple

During the panel, the ease and intuitiveness of the recommended technologies was also discussed. Another panelist, Grant Thornton, Principal John Picot, said that the aged care sector should take reference from companies like Google and Apple, who have succeeded in creating technologies and systems that are user-friendly and foolproof. 

“If you have to give people digital training, then you fail before you start,” Mr Picot told the virtual conference.

“The real key here is to make the technology completely invisible, seamless and intuitive so that people can see what they need to do. They don’t need an instruction book. They don’t need a 50-page manual. They can work it out because it is so intuitive,” Mr Picot said.

Mr Picot also made note that the current technologies utilised within the sector have been made by and for people who are native English speakers. In a sector where a large number of the workforce speak English as a second language, the current forms of technology create an “immediate barrier to people being able to really be successful in their job”. 

“These translation engines have been around in our technology for decades and yet we’re not seeing it in technology that’s supposed to support a business that has a large proportion of people that come from a [culturally and linguistically diverse] background,” Mr Picot said.

Manual methods still used for reporting

The need for better and increased use of technology within the aged care sector was also echoed by Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck during his keynote address at the conference. 

“That’s not acceptable. We ought to require within a period of time that all providers reporting their quality and financial indicators do so automatically.”

“It’s important we share the innovations that arise from the use of technology across the sector,” Mr Colbeck added.

“Together, we have an opportunity to harness all the benefits that technology offers in transforming aged care, so that senior Australians can be confident they will be treated with respect, dignity and high-class care.” 

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  1. You should be more interested in the level of care rather than how the huge reporting requirements are done. It’s perhaps a bit old fashioned but it’s still effective and legal.
    The alternative is to have carers tapping away on small screens. Care is everything!!

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