GUEST COLUMN: Three tips to drive digitalisation in home care – Home Care Insight

By Dec Norton, CTO at CareLineLive
Since the start of the pandemic, the home care sector has taken advantage of the benefits of going digital. As the demand for software increases, technology providers need to ensure they can deliver the best digital solutions, support and guidance, to agencies, managers and their carers.
A recent industry survey has highlighted how there are still many obstacles prohibiting a wider uptake of technology in this sector, even though it is unanimously agreed that technology-enabled care (TEC) is already helping home care businesses. Interestingly, decision makers in this sector cite a lack of time to evaluate the many solutions available as a key reason preventing them from investing in the latest technology.
Could 2022 be the year that we will see digitalisation in home care taken to the next level? It seems the time to digitise processes and leverage the right tools to generate better care for home care service users has finally come. 
Here are our top three tips on what to look for when selecting a software provider for your home care business.
Tip 1 – Choose easy to use software with good technical support
According to NHSX, around 30% of care providers still use paper-based systems, which are time consuming, costly and bad for the environment. Going digital means doing away with these outdated processes and systems and embracing efficiencies, both in terms of staff time and expenditures. Going digital is not about replacing carers but about automating processes and digitising workflows and giving people more time so that they can focus on delivering high quality care services.
It is notorious that people resist change and that they are creatures of habit. It is therefore key that when it comes to onboarding new technologies in the workspace, this is done with minimal disruption. The chosen software provider should also take into consideration the home care agency’s technical abilities and tailor their services and language to them.
These providers must also ensure they can offer ongoing support, particularly to those workers who aren’t tech savvy – limited technical support and a fear of low buy-in from staff were cited as obstacles to digitalisation in the same above-mentioned survey.  
Having a dedicated customer success team that can provide clear straightforward explanations and support to non-tech carers and agencies is essential to help them understand how to onboard the software easily and feel comfortable in using it.
Intuitive, user-friendly technology is in our everyday life: we are used to our smartphone screens, apps and our smart TV home page and this should be reflected in our daily work life too. Rather than using multiple solutions that have to interface and sync with each other, it’s important to find an intuitive all-in-one solution (and provider) that can help digitise most or all of your processes.
Tip 2 – Put data accuracy, privacy and consistency first  
Like with any change, challenges can sometimes follow, but by choosing the right home care software provider, they can be easily overcome. The importance of privacy, data accuracy and consistency has never been more important.
According to research firm Gartner, by next year modern privacy laws – which includes the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – will cover 75% of the world’s population personal information.
With home care technology rolled out across multiple devices, data syncing is required to ensure records are kept up to date, security isn’t compromised, and the quality and value of data is maintained.  
This is very much like a restaurant kitchen where timings are crucial for the whole dining process to go smoothly: from taking an order to sending it to the kitchen to the delivery of the dish. If each step in this process is not in sync – the waiter gets the wrong order or is too slow – the meal is thrown away and customers are not served what they ordered within the expected time.
Similarly, with only a 30 second window for your central database to sync everything, issues like slow internet or internet dropping out can mean that not all the data is uploaded within the required timeframe. This results in information not being available at the right time for the right person on the right device.
Choose a software product that delivers accurate and consistent data in real-time and ensures that your data is stored and accessed securely. 
Tip 3 – Choose a provider that continually innovates
So how do you ensure your business is prepared to solve these data syncing issues?
Picking up the restaurant kitchen analogy again, one solution would be to have waiters who share orders and break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces – this would ensure orders are delivered in time. Similarly, your data syncing issues can be overcome by continual optimisation of the software’s underlying design and architecture.
Choosing a software provider that is committed to continual testing of their product and new product development can future proof your business and is absolutely imperative.
With the UK’s 85+ year old population set to double to 3.2 million by 2041 and then treble by 2066, the demand for home care is increasing significantly. This is the time to go digital as this will allow your business to scale without increasing your costs disproportionately. Embrace technology innovation and the huge benefits it can bring.
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