The aged care industry and government need to work together on creating common standards and interoperability to break down silos affecting the sector, a technology council chair tells Australian Ageing Agenda.

Gavin Tomlins, who is chair of the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council’s CIO Committee, said Australia’s siloed approach of services has resulted in a lot of disparate systems.

“There is no easy data interchange between vendor software and the government,” Mr Tomlins told Australian Ageing Agenda at the ITAC conference in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“There is a lot of data duplication and a lot of wasted labour in terms of being compliant,” he said.

Gavin Tomlins. Image: Event Photography

Interoperability is required to achieve cost efficiencies and to do smarter things with data, Mr Tomlins said.

“It’s very transactional at the moment so we should be looking at how can we use artificial intelligence across that data,” he said.

He called on the industry to help break down the siloed approach by starting a conversation.

“If you look at the vendor service provider relationship, it’s very proprietary at this present point in time.”

The industry also needs to look at creating an open ecosystem of data interchange, he said.

Service providers and the government should also look at published international standard datasets and reuse them to form common datasets, Mr Tomlins said.

Government’s role in interoperability

From left: Gavin Tomlins, Nick Hartland, Steven Strange, Lee Davis, Emma Hossack and Dr George Margelis on the panel. Image: Event Photography

Mr Tomlins and a panel of industry stakeholders discussed developing integrated common standards for business to government in social care systems at ITAC on Tuesday.

Department of Health first assistant secretary in the home aged care division Nick Hartland also said interoperability was important for improving efficiencies.

“We see a fair bit of efficiencies to be gained by having better business to government interfaces,” Mr Hartland told the conference.

Mr Hartland said the aged care royal commission has also made it clear that this was an issue.

“It’s obvious to us when we listen to the royal commission that this is something that has to be worked on,” he said.

“You’ll get a better system that faces the consumer when you have better computing that underpins it and this business-to-government stuff is important in that context.

“We don’t need to be sold about this stuff, we think it’s really important,” Mr Hartland said.

“What we face of course is how do we do it and what’s our role?” Mr Hartland said.

Counsel Assisting the royal commission made a series of proposals to commissioners on Wednesday including that the Australian Government implement a standardised data collection program for aged care (read more here).

Starting small is key

Also on the panel, Anglicare Southern Queensland chief digital officer Lee Davis said starting small was key.

“Historically we’ve always been a little bit over ambitious of what we can achieve,” Mr Davis told delegates.

“In the past we always try and solve the whole problem. We need to start small, tackle a priority message or a set of messages, whether that’s referrals from government and then iterate from that,” Mr Davis said.

ITAC 2020 conference took place at the Royal ICC Brisbane on 3-4 March.

Read more from the ITAC 2020 conference

Tech council joins research-industry collaboration

Aged care’s best in tech honoured

Addressing community care’s technology pain points

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