2015 was a big year for the aged care sector. From provider consolidation and funding reforms, to the uptake of new technologies; aged care providers worked hard to navigate an evolving market. Today we look back at the biggest technology and sector trends for aged care providers in 2015.
Cloud computing on the rise
Out of all the aged care technology trends in 2015, the push towards cloud computing has perhaps been the largest. Aged care providers now use software to manage their finances, communicate with allied health providers, and manage their medication and clinical care information. By utilising the cloud, providers can receive software updates automatically, ensuring they have access to the latest version of the software. Cloud hosted software has also enabled many aged care providers to eliminate the operating costs associated with hosting on premise, such as large scale servers and the accompanying energy consumption bills. As a result, the barriers to entry for software systems are greatly reduced.
Recognising the benefits for our clients, iCareHealth partnered with Microsoft Azure in October 2014 to offer a cloud hosted software option. Throughout 2015, many iCareHealth clients transitioned to the cloud and now enjoy the same level of secure, immediate access to their data, without the costs and resources associated with internal hosting.
eHealth takes shape
Since its inception in 2012, 2.3 million individuals and nearly 8000 healthcare providers have registered for the Federal Government’s eHealth framework. 2015 has seen many changes to the system, including a name change from the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) to My Health Record. In addition, this year saw the Federal Government announce plans to link the My Health Record eHealth framework to the My Aged Care client record system. The move follows the transfer of the aged care portfolio back to the Department of Health. With the 2015 federal budget providing $485 million in funding over the next four years – and opt-out trials set to begin in the new year – eHealth will continue to grow in importance for aged care providers across Australia.
iCareHealth is one of only a few software providers that are currently able to link to the My Health Record system. This means that all residential iCareHealth clients can match their residents to an Individual Health Identifier and display this information within the iCareHealth software. This system will help to reduce duplicate data entry and the risks associated with incomplete health data. In addition, our work with Telstra Health is helping to successfully connect hospitals, pharmacies, GPs and aged care providers to build a safer and more holistic healthcare system.
Sector changes and challenges
In 2015, the aged care industry has been met with new funding types and an increasingly consumer centred structure. CDC has begun to impact the residential aged care sector, with a growing push towards consumer choice. As a result, this year has seen providers adopting new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition with the use of innovative technologies and marketing approaches. Some residential aged care providers have done this by offering meals during a four hour window to allow residents to choose a time that suits them. Other providers are differentiating themselves by offering access to the internet or banks of devices. Overall, 2015 has seen aged care providers recognise the benefits of catering to an individual’s lifestyle and wellbeing needs, not just their care requirements.
Take-up of technology
Aged care providers are looking to technology to improve their business and clinical processes. As a result, software vendors are recognising the need to deliver user friendly products with regular release cycles. In 2015, iCareHealth released a new version of our residential aged care software that included simpler navigation, a cleaner look and feel, and new functionality within the tasks, alerts and management reporting areas. With the next release of both our home care and residential software fast approaching, iCareHealth has prioritised development of key features and functionality for both systems. For residential aged care, this means enhanced access controls so that staff can easily allocate the right user access level to various roles in their organisation. In home care, this has resulted in a connection to the Department of Social Services data exchange platform, as well as a portal that enables consumers to manage their services from their own home.
More broadly, 2015 has seen aged care providers embrace apps, assistive technology, and robotics in order to deliver high quality, personalised care. This trend will continue into 2016, with care recipients and their families seeking out providers that offer innovative services.
What other trends do you think dominated aged care in 2015? Join our conversation below.
Tags: aged care, aged care software, assistive technology, CDC, cloud, cloud computing, consumer directed care, ehealth, funding, government, home care, iCareHealth, iCareHealth software, residential aged care, robotics, software, technology