IT is often overlooked by care managers, says report
Caring Times, March 2014
New technologies are routinely overlooked by care sector managers who are unclear of how software can contribute to delivering efficiencies and profitable growth.
These findings follow a report commissioned by Advanced Health & Care and partner division, Advanced Business Solutions , which looked at attitudes to IT and the types of software commonly used across the care sector. The research revealed less than a third of care organisations use IT to deliver service user information to staff, and just 22% are using software that allows staff to submit electronic time sheets.
Only half of those interviewed are using IT to monitor staff visits to service users, and just 35% to raise an alert if a visit is missed. Additionally, only 48% of care staff are using software capable of updating individual care records. Other software solutions, such as payroll and staff rostering solutions, were seen as having a more significant impact on profit and were much more likely to be deployed.
Domiciliary care providers were the biggest users of rostering technology – 92% had a complete IT system in place for this purpose – with a further 8% relying on IT ‘in part’ for this function, and 82% of residential care providers had a payroll system in place.
Jim Chase, managing director at Advanced Health & Care, said: “The report shows a lack of clarity and understanding in the care sector about how new technologies can boost profits. Many managers are not seeing the benefit of investing in new technology now, for financial and operational gains in the future. The reality is, however, more efficient processes naturally lead to savings.
“An innovative approach to care provision can also be the difference between winning or losing a contract, and at a time when there is fierce competition for every new contract, technology can make an organisation stand out from the crowd,” he added.
The report, produced by Source for Consulting and entitled: Can’t compete on size? Consider technology, also shows that while there are a significant number of organisations using IT in silos, many are still using it only ‘in part’ to solve particular issues, such as managing multiple funding streams (30%), and patient records (22%).
This could be down to the perceived cost of new systems, as the research reveals financial constraints as a major barrier to technological investment (58%). Chase adds: “The figures in the report show that while many care businesses are starting to incorporate improved technology, many are still missing out on the full benefits of efficiency by implementing silo systems.
“This suggests that managers should be made aware of how beneficial holistic systems can be when used properly. While there remains significant opportunity to make much better use of technology across the sector, it is worth remembering that it is not just the pursuit of profit that should drive change, but the need to improve the service user experience, whilst delivering great care.”
Advanced has seen an increase in demand for innovative solutions such as their electronic call monitoring system, iConnect, which is capable of delivering multiple operational benefits via smart mobile phones, from staff rostering to recording carers’ locations and visit times automatically. It is an encouraging indicator that parts of the care sector are realising the benefits of new IT solutions.