Sector struggling to innovate

A new report from the ACIITC details the sector’s digital maturity and includes a toolkit to help providers make improvements.

A representative survey benchmarking the aged and community care sector’s digital maturity for the first time has found shortcomings in innovation, use of data analytics, client-centred care and cybersecurity insurance and data.

The survey involved about 10 per cent of the sector and found more positive results in cybersecurity awareness, disaster recovery processes, communication technology and leadership, according to the report released by the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council today.

The ACIITC’s assessment and evaluation of the sector’s digital maturity – which refers to an organisation’s ability to adapt to function effectively in an increasingly digital environment – returned an industry average score of 58.4 out of 109 among 142 participants.

Source: ACIITC’s Digital Maturity in Aged and Community Care: The Current State and Resources Required

The average for large, residential and metropolitan aged care providers is 63,62.1 and 61.2 respectively, indicating further room for improvement for smaller, community care and regional providers.

The national survey – which drew more than 165 participants – represented providers exceeding 56,000 aged care places. As seen below, the report shows digial maturity scores across 18 areas – a score greater than 4 demonstrates a relative strength.

Source: ACIITC’s Digital Maturity in Aged and Community Care: The Current State and Resources Required

Digging deeper on the poor-performing areas, the survey found the level of self-reported innovation – including the use of robotics, artificial intelligence, digital apps and monitoring devices – in the sector “was very low.”

Likewise on the ability of residents or clients and their representatives to access their own digital records or provide user input to the design of digital systems.

On the use of data analytics, “survey participants report that data is more likely to be used on a prescriptive basis to optimise operations and outcomes on the basis of collected data, rather than in real time or in a predictive capacity” such as intervening on the basis of predicted outcomes.

And while cybersecurity was generally identified as a strength, the survey found the overall response to the security of resident or client data “was mediocre (an average of 3.5) and “raises the level of concern around client data security”. Also concerning, according to the report, was the quarter of organisations indicating they didn’t know if they had insurance covering cybersecurity events.

A supplementary survey for the residential aged care sector, drawing 55 respondents, found Australian facilities “have significantly lower digital maturity than their American counterparts.”

However, the report found there have been improvements overall since the ACIITC’s 2020 CARE-IT report. These include an increase in:

  • the use of phishing protection software
  • staff with access to records
  • the use of employee owned or issued mobile devices
  • organisations with cyber insurance to cover all aspects of disaster situations related to technology
  • ownership of technology.

Toolkit aims to support strategies for improvement

The digital maturity project – which involved the co-design of an assessment and practice implementation framework and development of a toolkit – aimed to empower providers to gauge their digital readiness and implement targeted strategies for improvement.

The project’s report – Digital Maturity in Aged and Community Care: The Current State and Resources Required – was developed in collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency.

Organisations participating in the Digital Maturity National Survey will receive an analysis of their own performance as well as benchmarking against the national findings. Others can use the report and toolkit within to undertake their own assessment and comparison.

Anne Livingstone

“The findings of this national survey provide both a current state of play, an organisation’s performance against others nationally, as well as identifying the potential areas to concentrate investment and resources for ongoing improvement,” ACIITC executive lead Anne Livingstone told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“It is hoped that this provides a very practical approach to upgrading the digital maturity of individual providers and the sector as a whole.”

The survey targeted improvements at the governance, leadership and operations levels of organisations.

“The outcomes can be practically implemented and considered in improvement strategies, upgrades of current technologies and may be used to influence decisions in respect to areas of investment along with possible returns of these investments to organisations,” Ms Livingstone said.

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