Aged care technology for the future: Think Big, Start Small, Scale Rapidly

Australia’s age care industry, through the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC), has called on the government to make an urgent investment in the sector to help them upgrade their technology capabilities.

ACIITC say that an estimated 1.6 million people will require some sort of aged service by 2023 and that information technology is essential to helping the entire system deliver high quality and accessible care.

As part of this strategy (PDF), ACIITC say that:

“There are opportunities for government and providers to work differently and establish the seeds for industry wide change. Peak Bodies and more advanced providers can help chart the course forward and provide a unified voice. Government can help foster investment in infrastructure for innovation and solutions that can be scaled across the industry.”

ACIITC priority areas include:

  • eHealth
  • Telehealth and Mobility
  • Care Management
  • Management Information and Reporting
  • Core Technology and Support

These priority areas certainly target the nuts and bolts issues of IT in aged care. However, over the years our work with the healthcare sector has highlighted many areas for innovation in the delivery of services for caring for people that touch the human-side of service deliver. For example:

  • Designing human-centred IT systems, to increase time spent delivering care and support.
  • The role of social learning for maintaining and improving standards of care.
  • The importance of employee engagement for front line staff working in the community and in people’s homes.
  • Crowdsourcing feedback from consumers of health services to drive continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Using social innovation to address gaps in resourcing and services.

Recognising the current environment of “tightening budgets”, ACIITC are supporting their business case for the investment of $10 million by the government by promising to look at reducing costs in the industry. I think this highlights a further opportunity for IT in the aged care sector to learn from the mistakes of failed government projects, which is driving a shift to new user-centred, agile and cloud-based IT methods.

I think it is important to recognise the relationship between how IT is managed in the aged care sector and their ability to use IT to address all the areas and opportunities outlined above.

However, like ACIITC, I agree that all this can only be achieved by the industry if they are provided with seed funding that can work as a catalyst for change.