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People matter more than technology in IT implementation, provider advises


ICT projects in aged care need to focus on the people being impacted and not just follow a traditional project management methodology, an aged care executive will tell an upcoming industry conference.

John Rowland, general manager – business development and performance at Anglicare Tasmania, will share with delegates at the Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) Conference next month his learnings from rolling out a mobile solution to a community care workforce.

He said the organisation discovered the traditional IT route, which tended to be a project management-focused implementation plan with stages such as initial planning studies and user acceptance testing, did not work.

“When you forget about the people that are being impacted, the implementation gets jammed up and the focus tends to be on the technical and not on the people,” Mr Rowland told Technology Review.

He said they tried a traditional IT rollout methodology first and while the system got in, none of the required business changes were prioritised.

“You have a new system but you haven’t changed the way you work,” Mr Rowland said.

Anglicare Tasmania has rolled out a mobility solution to its community care services across the state, much of which are in rural and remote locations. More than 200 community care workers have been mobilised to date and by the end of the rollout there would be about 400, he said.

Staff have been given a modern smartphone, which they are permitted to use for personal purposes, that comes with additional specific software around scheduling and accessing client information plus GPS-based safety features.

One of the key challenges, particularly around mobility, was dealing with a group of individuals who were not the normal technology user base, Mr Rowland said.

“It is very well to take somebody who already works on a computer and give them a new program. But when you are looking to implement a program that impacts on our workers across Tasmania, some of whom have never used email before, getting them to start using a mobile phone to track activity, to access information, to interact with an agency is very different to what they are used to.”

The project began in 2012 with the assistance of an external contractor who took them down the formal project management path but shifted toward a more people-focused approach at the end of 2013, Mr Rowland said. It turned out using internal staff with the right skill set, but not necessarily their usual role, was a more successful approach, he said.

The tools rolled out so far focus on how staff engage with clients and provide functions such as time and attendance, access to information and a capacity to communicate.

The approach involved staff feeling the benefit of the tools before they were we asked to adopt the functions that gave the organisation efficiency benefits and being able to communicate regularly by telephone, sms and email, at no cost to the employee, has made the change worthwhile for staff, Mr Rowland said.

“The app on the phone does things that makes our life easier and allows us to support more clients but it was getting staff to feel like it was valuing them, because it was intended to value them, was the most important step in them becoming advocates for the system as opposed to be being detractors.”

The ITAC Conference takes place from 24 – 25 November at Jupiter’s Hotel, Gold Coast.

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