Gotta spend money to save money

Industry leaders met some robots and learnt the tricks of the technology trade.

Above: Silver Chain CIO, Allan Turner.

By Stephen Easton

Western Australian community care provider Silver Chain is a shining example of effective technology deployment, and their chief information officer was only too keen to share the secrets of his success with industry leaders last Friday.

Speaking at a forum on the future of technology in aged care, hosted by Australian aged care company Simavita, Allan Turner told the captivated audience they too could make huge savings and vastly improve efficiency in the long run, by investing in simple, good quality, scalable solutions.

“When you introduce technology, you have to be realistic,” Mr Turner said. “So often I’m asked to provide a Rolls Royce solution on a Mini budget, and have it delivered yesterday.”

Instead, he said the right approach was not to skimp but to do it the right way from the start, with the impressive figures quoted by Mr Turner speaking for themselves.

“The more disjointed your application set, the more difficult it is to build on it in the future. It’s all well and good having great software, but you need a good platform to run it on.

“If you don’t invest in good IT, you might as well burn the dollars.”

Using smartphones linked to central databases and specialised software, Silver Chain has vastly improved its efficiency in managing client assessments, wound care and rostering. 

“Using mobiles we’ve captured about 10,000 wounds, and saved around $500,000 a year. Capturing this information is of extreme value for the organisation and for the people who fund it.

“We have what is probably the best database on wounds in the world.”

Silver Chain has also made significant efficiency gains by using special software called ROVA (route optimisation and visit allocation), to reduce the distance travelled in providing community care services over the vast area the organisation services.  

Mr Turner also demonstrated notable savings made using telehealth technology, which monitors a client’s vital signs, allowing for intervention before the need to go into hospital or residential care.

A big part of successfully deploying new technological solutions is educating stakeholders, like nurses who will be asked to use them, who may be sceptical of new electronic solutions and reluctant to change from paper-based systems and traditional methods. 

Mr Turner reiterated the point that IT staff must “tell them and show them, then tell them, then show them again” as many times as necessary.

He also gave credit to his employers for allocating some funds to his skunk works, a term used to describe small, largely autonomous teams tasked with developing new ideas in technology, unhindered by bureaucratic oversight.

According to Mr Turner, this kind of small-scale experimentation is a critically important investment to speed up the generation of new ideas, most of which fail early on. 

“In aged care, like any industry, you need funds freed up to play and innovate. If you have to develop a detailed business case to try new things, it’s too hard; no one does it.”

The audience were also introduced to Matilda, and aged care robot developed by a partnership between La Trobe University and NEC Australia, and Paro, a robotic baby harp seal currently being used by the South Australian branch of Alzheimer’s Australia.

Tags: aged-care, allan-turner, cost-effective-technology, effective-deployment, efficiency, matilda-robot, paro, robot, robot-harp-seal, robotic-aged-care, route-optimisation-and-visit-allocation, rova, silverchain, simavita, skunk-works, smartphone, successful-deployment-of-technology, technology, telehealth,

2 thoughts on “Gotta spend money to save money

  1. Absolutely agree with this sentiment. Investment is the keyword and to think that decent technology implemented in the right places is too costly to consider is short-sighted (and narrow minded at worst). Telehealth is an important step towards efficiency – with its potential to act as triage, and a means of bringing medical treatment to those who can’t easily access it.

  2. This program has cost me employment by wiping my daily schedule off my round and leaving me with no work, that really helps to pay the house hold bills

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *