Going digital - But why?
According to a lot of people, now is the time to place digitisation at the forefront of your care service. But why? This article unravels a few truths about this new “holy grail”, and hopefully challenges you to walk the line – even when digitising.
First, we are looking at the motivations for change. What would make someone look at care planning in the first place?
The 'outside-in' reasons
Some care providers find their brand image to be such a strong asset for their business that it strongly facilitates their KPIs, such as their occupancy rate. This is then among the reasons for wanting to be a modern-day care service with updated tools and powerful data that can be made available about your mum or dad. It encourages people to move into the service.
Another outside-in reason could be regulatory, trying to be fully compliant with the different bodies safeguarding the care home sector. One of these being CQC. Maybe a certain KLOE needs attention?
If you want to evidence that you are in fact well-led, the communication and data collection for managerial decision-making will help reinforce your case. Or evidencing that you are in fact an effective service - delivering on the care plans in place and achieving pre-emptive care outcomes that not only manage people’s current baseline needs but go one step ahead to support with rehabilitation.
The 'inside-out' reasons
Another set of arguments deal with your own organisation’s challenges. These could be workforce related. Either it is hard to recruit new staff, or to keep those that you already have. This is a major issue and despite fantastic knowledge hubs from Skills for Care and other voices, there seems to be a bigger issue here.
Another reason to be paperless resonates well with your operations team. How can you provide an overview of different sites, from the individual resident and staff level to entire administrative processes, not to mention alleviating the paperwork burden that in so many services take up hours of every shift?
When mentioning efficiency earlier, this also speaks to the inside out reasoning. Wages account for the majority of any provider’s budget, so how can we make sure that we are getting value for money here? Being effective links to the bottom line in any business – and here it is no different.
With the immense focus on technology in care, we see different perspectives and evolutionary steps following Brian Solis six stages of digital transformation.
- Business as usual: paper is regarded as the go-to solution and no change is imminent
- OK Computer: 5% of the organisation uses computers for administrative tasks
- Electronic care planning: 25% of the organisation uses computers but 1 to 1 with the already known paper format
- Strategic level: 50% of the organisation have now adapted to a digital workflow, but ambition is still predominantly executive
- Converged: dedicated digital operations on person-centred goals is up and running
- Big data: what we used to not see, and only do, can now help us be predictive and preventive in an entirely different manner
Outlining these stages, it is important to emphasise that none are right or wrong. Looking across the country many “Outstanding” homes are working in stage 1 & 2 reluctant to change, because they are already at the top of their game, with more risk than benefit connected with going digital
The most important takeaway must then be to know what you want to achieve from digitisation. Comparing this to social media, they both disrupt and support our interaction. Not long ago when on holiday, we brought our compact cameras developing the shots at the shop when returning home. Then, whenever a poor friend walked into the trap, we displayed these inky papers and told our stories. Today, we share instantly & in real time follow topics and persons of interest, by the simple use of technology.
A similar principle is available for social care. An image is no longer just an image. Today it is a bunch of metadata too, compiling people, topics, locations etc. The entire structure has changed, and we may now consider grasping the potential and start harvesting the seeds we sow. To do so, it is important to consider the strategic influence this will have, and how digital care planning can enable care delivery.
Answering this question will be the first step in the journey of benefits realisation.