Aged care CIO gives ICT update

Jewish Care (Victoria) CIO Cameron Mackay tells Technology Review about the challenges and opportunities they are facing.

In this Q & A from the May Technology Review magazine, Jewish Care (Victoria) CIO Cameron Mackay tells TR about the challenges and opportunities they’re facing.

Cameron Mackay
Cameron Mackay, CIO, Jewish Care (Victoria)

TR: What’s your typical working day like?

CM: It can vary significantly. I live in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne so my commute can take upwards of 90 minutes on a bad traffic day. Like most people in a leadership position I attend many meetings throughout the day. Much of my time and energy is focused on planning activities and working closely with the members of my project and operations teams. From time to time I do get a chance to roll up my sleeves and help out the operations team, which keeps me grounded and in touch with our front line staff and clients.

TR: What’s the major ICT project you are currently working on?

CM: Jewish Care (Victoria) is undertaking a multi-year “Best of Breed” IT transformation and is now towards the end of the initial program of works. Over the past two years we have deployed a number of significant packages to enhance and support the business ranging from payroll, intranet, clinical care and risk management systems and most recently we commissioned a new general ledger in January 2015.

Jewish Care offers over 34 different services to our clients so having the right solutions in place is vital.  We are currently in the process of selecting a community care application that will accommodate consumer directed care (CDC), and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and many of our other programs.

In addition to software projects there have also been a constant stream of infrastructure projects such as our data centre implementation, WAN replacement, network platform redesign and wireless implementation. There’s been a lot on.

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

CM: With the wide range of services we offer our clients a key challenge is ensuring our projects are appropriately scoped to meet the business needs. In addition to that, ICT is seen as a true business partner that contributes to the successful realisation of both excellent client outcomes and the delivery of organisational strategy. We are included in and contribute too many “non-traditional” discussions and projects. As a non-profit organisation we also strive to ensure our investments in ICT add value to the organisation, as such it’s often challenging to procure enterprise grade systems at a price-point to make it cost effective.

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

CM: One of the most profound changes was positioning ICT as an executive position. This recognises both the importance of ICT within the business but also acknowledges the risk associated with not getting it right. ICT projects are governed by an executive level steering committee, which reinforces project sponsorship. Spending time to properly document business requirements helps us select the best product to meet our needs. Thankfully many vendors and suppliers respect our charitable status and work closely with us to ensure we get optimal pricing.

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

CM: Continuing with our “Best of Breed” application refresh; bedding down our newer systems to get the maximum value from them; and focusing on finding new and innovative ways to make it easier for our staff to get things done. I’ve always embraced wireless and mobility and I am keen to make as many of our systems mobile enabled as possible. Our staff need access to the right information at the right time. In a similar way clients and families are increasingly going to want to interact with our sector via mobile devices, web portals, etc.

In addition to our software applications, Jewish Care is managing $180M of exciting building developments, some of which are already underway. A good amount of my time and energy is focused on ensuring our new buildings will be high-tech and ready for the demands over the next 40 years.

TR: What lessons have you learned from a recent ICT project?

CM: Without question the most important factor affecting project success is having an engaged sponsor.  My preference is to always have an executive level sponsor on major projects which helps drive timelines, accountability and resources. We’ve also learnt to be better at scoping projects from the beginning and being more willing to alter our thinking as the project evolves. Whilst we don’t let vendors drive our decisions, we do listen to their advice where it has benefited from their exposure to many other clients and situations.

TR: Of the various national initiatives underway – such as NBN, eHealth, telehealth – which will have the biggest impact on aged care – and why?

CM: I think there are a number of areas that will have a huge impact on the sector, however many of them come back to one fundamental change: client choice. Client choice is the driving factor behind CDC, NDIS, aged care reform and a raft of other initiatives. We are going to have to be smarter and do more with less as highlighted in the recent government Intergenerational Report.

TR: What’s your advice to those providers which are relatively early in their ICT journey?

CM: The first step is to recognise that ICT is not a fad or going to go away. ICT can be used to facilitate excellent clinical outcomes and produce business efficiencies. ICT is no longer a ‘black box’ sitting under a desk; it touches almost every area of the business highlights and should be represented at a senior level. Government policy, changes in funding, increasing customer expectations and competition will quickly leave organisations that do not invest in ICT behind.

It’s 2015 and I know that my parents would not want to live in an aged care facility that didn’t offer convenient access to technology such as the Internet, or a web portal to interact with their electronic care record.

Don’t miss the September edition of Technology Review magazine, where another aged care CIO will talk about their ICT challenges and opportunities in the regular Personally speaking section.

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