Reform agenda lacking a digital focus

Calls for more investment in the sector’s ability to function effectively in an increasingly digital environment.

Investment and better coordination with new policy is needed to lift the sector’s overall digital maturity – and realise potential improvements in the operation and delivery services, says the co-author of a new report.

The Aged Care Industry IT Council’s digital maturity project – which included a national survey of aged and community care providers – aimed to empower providers to gauge their digital readiness and implement targeted strategies for improvement.

The project involved the co-design of an assessment and practice implementation framework and development of a toolkit, which along with the survey findings were released in a report on Tuesday.

The ACIITC’s assessment and evaluation of the sector’s digital maturity – which refers to an organisation’s ability to adapt to function effectively in an increasingly digital environment – found an industry average score of 58.4 out of 109 from 142 survey participants.

Anne Livingstone

ACIITC executive lead and report co-author Anne Livingstone said the sector needed to invest in improving its overall digital maturity and that there was “enormous potential” to improve productivity, effectiveness, efficiencies and quality by doing so.

“The various reform agendas need to be underpinned by evidence based, fit-for-purpose, conformant, and standardised approaches to the incorporation of digital platforms,” Ms Livingstone told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Many providers in one extreme are reporting systems still in use even through these have been identified as redundant, not fit for purpose and not conformant to contemporary requirements and needs. On the other extreme there are providers who have reported that reliable, quality, fit-for-purpose technologies are in deployment but that they may not be using these to the extent of functionality that is currently available within these products.”

Providers require guidance and direction about the needs of new or enhanced technology platforms, particularly where reforms are in place. But to date, the lead time required for providers or vendors to respond to changing requirements has not been given serious attention, she said.

“Unless significant lead times are given to effectively develop technology before changes are implemented, we will further add to lessen the digital maturity of the industry. There is a critical need for more information in respect to community care reforms as a matter of urgency so providers can have technology and systems in place to respond to the changes,” Ms Livingstone said.

Workforce development and upskilling is also essential and needed now, she said. “Investment is required to ensure our current workforce can integrate and use technology in their everyday practice, but also this investment needs to extend to consider the roles within the sector that are currently not in place.”

Ms Livingstone is calling for providers and policymakers to take action now.

“Globally, leading companies expect that digital transformation and technologies will play critical roles in ensuring sustainability and effectiveness aged and community care providers as well as policy makers need to ensure that this is top of agendas.”

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