Look to others including those outside of the aged care sector for technological inspiration then improve on and personalise their ideas.
That’s the advice from Glenn Payne, CIO of Feros Care, which held a knowledge sharing event last week to help aged care providers on their technology and innovation journey.
Around 190 delegates from 100 organisations spent two days on the Gold Coast to see how Feros Care virtualised its operations and utilised technology in everything from care to business and staffing models.
Mr Payne recommended his CIO counterparts take other people’s ideas and make them better or put a new blend on something.
“If you’re only looking at competitors it can only make you mediocre; you have to look past that. You have to ask, ‘What is the next idea? What is the next that they’re doing?’,” Mr Payne told Technology Review after his presentation on Feros Care’s virtualised environment.
“We have opened up the doors to let people into the Feros way. Take some ideas we have today and make them better and make them your own.”
Feros Care provided a virtual office environment for its mostly remote workforce but also a mobile environment for the others.
On developing it, Mr Payne said the provider looked around outside of the aged care industry to the US and the UK, and companies like Google and Rio Tinto.
“We designed an infrastructure model based on a user experience like our own office. We were trying to give them the same experience as if they were at home but like they were working in an office.”
That included collaboration tools, such as Office 365, which Feros was moving to, and enterprise social networking. The provider also conducted a cost analysis on having desk top computers, he said.
IT cannot be the only innovator
In addition to mobilising its workforce, Feros also encouraged its staff to be innovators. “We have a whole ideas framework put in place. [Staff] can enter their idea online. It goes through then we all as a senior management team” assess and further the good ideas, Mr Payne said. “You have to find the hidden champions inside an organisation. Don’t think IT is the only innovator.”
He said the organisation held a lot of internal hackathons where they bring the creatives in among people from the many aspects of the business.
As there were many different ideas it was hard to say how many worked out, he said, but Feros had a “fail fast mentality” where it moved on quickly if something was not looking prosperous.
The challenges of virtualising operations were the usual ones with getting the right staff to ensure uptake the biggest, he said. “We went through a phase where we were hiring the wrong sort of people for these roles. We had to change our hiring process to make sure we were getting people who were technology advocates rather than people that hated technology.”
Feros now undertakes an IT skill test with all staff before they start, Mr Payne said. “We get those results and we figure out if that person will struggle or not based on the questions we will ask. It is using the data before employing people; it is what we are good at.”
Join in the disruption
Elsewhere, Mr Payne called on aged care organisations to be ready to be disrupted, but also to be the disruptor.
Some in the sector were “running into the headlights a bit blind” thinking the digital disruption would not happen to aged care but instead they should be embracing it, he said.
“If you think aged care is just going to be untouched, then you have to think again. My point is why don’t you start to be the disruptor?”
While there had been spikes in innovation, there had not yet been the “one big thing” to transform the industry, he said.
Mr Payne predicted the next big thing would be self-directed care with clients being able to pick who they want, which may not necessarily be an aged care organisation but perhaps a technology provider that connects everyone up.
“We are going to see a plague of start-up mentality coming through aged care, which is going to be brilliant. These new people come in with new ideas and new ways of working and they are going to push on the likes of Feros Care, integratedliving, KinCare and Care Connect.”
Be ready to be disrupted because there would be a new age of innovation coming through in the next five years, which was going to be exciting to watch, he said.
“If you’re not thinking with that agile sort of mind you’re going to be running into a few problems. If you think traditional service models are going to work into the future, you are unfortunately, sadly mistaken.”
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