A 10-year aged care roadmap will be launched next year and service providers and technology vendors can help shape the development of a framework for further reform, a senior departmental bureaucrat has said.

At the recent Information Technology in Aged Care conference, Fiona Buffinton, group manager of access quality and compliance group at the Department of Social Services, said in acknowledgement that five years was not long-term enough, government would deliver a 10-year vision for aged care in 2016 including a key framework.

Fiona Buffinton
Fiona Buffinton

She also said that with aged care moving back into health, getting the My Aged Care client record linked to the national eHealth record system had been moved up her priority list.

Ms Buffinton, who along with Aged Care Industry IT Company (ACIITC) chair Graeme Prior co-chairs a committee that brings together the interests of the ACIITC and government, called on providers and vendors to influence the development of the forthcoming framework through their ongoing collaboration.

“We are limited as policy writers and developers and funders by what we can imagine and what we are told to imagine through these collaborative projects and co-design,” Ms Buffinton told delegates.

“That is why we are going to be working in partnership with the ACIITC now that we have had this great collaboration moving up to 1 July with My Aged Care in working with the [ACIITC] to start developing this so-called online marketplace.”

She said the case had been made for an online aged care marketplace but that she was concerned some people in the industry were waiting for government to take the lead because it had always led in the past.

“I want to keep reinforcing that we see as a key funder that we will play a key role in this but that may be a diminishing role over time because we are confident in terms of the marketplace,” Ms Buffinton said.

She said critical mass was needed to attract users and while acknowledging ongoing connectivity issues and requirements, she added that My Aged Care was a good place to start.

“We believe that My Aged Care is a good starting point to begin this marketplace because we have very large volumes of transactions. Our website has about 150,000 visitors each month. By the end of November we are going to have more than 100,000 consumers registered for a client record,” Ms Buffinton said.

In addition to the service and technical innovation required from within the sector, Ms Buffinton said government was pushing the department on regulation and policy innovation.

That involved looking at reducing regulatory burden, identifying the core quality and accreditation required by government and the likely future convergence across the health, aged care and disability systems, she said.

It also involved government looking at giving up its monopoly on policy control in favour of a more collaborative and market approach, Ms Buffinton told delegates.

She said that in this fast moving aged care world, all stakeholders needed to be able to adapt quickly.

“I exhort you whether you a service provider… [or] vendor, I have to be agile and you have to be agile,” Ms Buffinton told delegates.

Photo: eventphotography.com

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  1. The challenge will be for providers to shift their perspective of technology from websites and social media – essentially a communication process – to seeing technology as a means of improving efficiency and effectiveness. To viewing their value chain in a holistic manner. This involves beginning with the needs of customers, both external and internal, identifying their needs and then identifying the type of technology that will help meet those needs. It is a process that should be led by the board with a strategy for operating in a digital environment, along with appropriate policies and procedures. Which means you have to have people on the board willing to learn about something new, and its continuous learning, not just a one off thing. Then management should take responsibility for creating and implementing a plan for introducing technology. The strategy and plans are by nature long term. Introducing technology is iterative. It’s not enough to hire an IT person. It’s critical that person works with your business manager, your service delivery people and your customers to identify solutions. Then there is the money. Where will that come from?

  2. Another challenge for providers is purchasing care software that actually improves productivity and adds value to care delivery.

    Sadly, the majority of software curently available in Australia are little more than low-end java programs filled with electronic versions of paper forms. They’re slow, cumbersome and far from intuitive. Even the most popular systems are poorly constructed dinosaurs that will have you clicking seventeen times just to make a simple entry.

    Its quite obvious that part of the sales pitch is to throw in every type of assessment and option they can (never mind if most of it is redundant) to impress the accountant or purchasing officer; a decision maker that will never actually use the product.

    Once purchased and installed, few providers actively convene user working parties to review and streamline their product. Modification approvals are often the domain of other non-users who are hesitant to change anything, so the end users just waste their time ‘working around’ the problems.

    When I look at the quality of systems that providers have chosen over the years, its like someone selling my granny a Commodore 64and telling her its the latest model.

    Dont assume you’re ‘cutting edge’ just because you’ve gone electronic It takes more than a screen and keyboad to have a truly useful system.

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