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Aged care CIO gives ICT update

In this Q & A, Ozcare state manager – innovation and technology John Scurr tells AAA about the challenges and opportunities they’re facing.

AAA: What is your typical working day like?

JS: Ozcare delivers a large range of aged care and community care based services via 3,000-plus employees, so in two words – long and busy. As with anyone in a senior role, my days are filled with a variety of tasks, issues, meetings and pressure points. Continual decision making, assessment of priorities to support business operations, and organisational strategies all make up a regular day.

John Scurr

John Scurr

I like the variety, demands and challenges of the role. There can be very high pressure at times but are made easier when you work with great people.

Fortunately, I have a great innovation and technology team which is committed to delivering positive outcomes. These guys are very capable and make my life much easier.

AAA: What is the major ICT project you are currently working on?

JS: We have several key initiatives running in parallel that are strategically important to the organisation. Our innovations team is working closely with our state manager – aged care, Lanna Ramsay, and business teams to implement the PeoplePoint Clinical Care module, including the PeoplePoint Point of Care mobility solution, across our residential facilities.

Last year was a challenging one for us with the implementation of the Procura Community Care module as well as full Mobility / Point of Care Solution across Ozcare’s broad community care programs. This resulted in the deployment of more than 1,450 smartphones and 400 laptops which was a massive organisational undertaking and learning curve, but one that proved to be successful. We are now coming out of the initial stabilisation period and are working with our state manager – community care, Damian Foley, on route optimisation, improved scheduling efficiencies and continual service delivery improvements.

We are also assessing potential cloud transition strategies and associated financial models to underpin strong decision making processes around this domain.

Our team faces daily challenges around cyber security and ensuring we have appropriate solutions in place. Our corporate profile places us at high risk of being a target, and consequently we have a significant organisational focus in this area. This has resulted in the undertaking of an overarching program of works to ensure correct measures are in place to deal with potential threats.

AAA: With regards to ICT, what are the specific or unique challenges your organisation is facing?

JS: I see our specific ICT challenges as being directly aligned to our business challenges; i.e. how do we best leverage our technology investment, to support and assist business operations and meet the ongoing legislative changes shaping the industry?

Service providers are being driven into a more competitive marketplace and it is now about being an ongoing provider of choice with a trusted, recognised brand. Helping our business units to drive efficiencies and cost effectiveness is paramount whilst improving quality measures around service delivery. On the other side is the requirement to be an employer of choice, as quality services can’t be delivered without a workforce.

AAA: How have you responded / are responding to those challenges?

JS: There are no easy answers so Ozcare is looking at this from all angles including business operations, workforce management, financial management, customer relationship management, client and employee education, asset ownership and management, potential innovation and core technologies.

AAA: What are your ICT priorities for the next three years?    

JS: The core focus will be on the ongoing basics of IT operations and providing strong support for business operations and users, whilst ensuring core business applications are operational and stable.

Secondly, we will be working to deliver key innovation and improvements in new technologies, drive efficiencies, cost savings and improve services and service delivery.

Lastly we will be endeavouring to better understand what is over the horizon and how to meet upcoming challenges. Particular focus will be on transitioning and supporting new business models into 2018 while also investigating how to drive better business-to-government interaction and integration.

The overall priority and strategy will be to continue to position our innovation and technology department to deliver maximum possible value.

AAA: What lessons have you learned from a recent ICT Project?

JS: It is essential to understand current state processes when embarking on large transformation projects, particularly for multi-site operations. Even if current state documentation exits, it should not be assumed it is being followed.

If not validated, there will be an increased risk of finding and having to deal with unexpected surprises when implementing standardised processes enforced by solution design.

Take the people on the journey with you and communicate, communicate, communicate.

AAA: What is your advice to those providers who are relatively early in their ICT journey?

JS: Approach your growth strategically to deliver the capabilities your organisation requires. Don’t allow environments to grow in an ad hoc or bolt on manner as this generally leads to issues down the track.

Secondly, consider the true cost of ownership before making decisions regarding in-house development or modifications to core business applications. Modifications are the gifts that keep on giving.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to use external expertise; you don’t know what you don’t know.

Lastly, remember the old adage: shiny and new does not always equate to best for your organisation.

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