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Taking the first step with your digital transformation: it starts with human systems

Written by Lauranne Beernaert, Sector Support Coordinator

At the end of March 2023, Sector Support at Hornsby Shire Council and Your Side hosted their Home Care Technology Summit ‘Your Digital Transformation: taking the first steps’. Delivered hybrid, the Summit attracted many attendees from the region and beyond.

Aged Care does not have the same hierarchy that we find in other sectors, which means that frees up the sector to do a lot of interesting things and that is why I find innovation in Aged Care quite fascinating” Merlin Kong, Kiah Consulting.

Watch the full Summit recording here, and view the Slide Deck here.

Two Actions that you can take now

  1. Ensure you build your digital literacy now. This will ensure you know which questions to ask IT vendors when it is time to do so.
  2. Continue or start to develop the right culture. Change can only happen when there is the right culture of collaboration, learning, reflection and communication. This is even more important when the organisation is operating in a very uncertain environment.

Key take aways:

Understand your level of risk to data breach and act on it

  • As a nation, Australia does not score very well on cybersecurity. Therefore, Australia is disproportionately targeted for attacks given it is a relatively wealthy country.
  • Cybersecurity must be on the radar for Aged Care providers as it is moving higher on the Government’s agenda. However, it needs to be fit for purpose. This means a risk based approach to balance security controls and performance must be adopted. To start, ask these questions: what are your risks – in Aged Care it is both business and reputation, but also ethical. What are our data assets? Where do you store them? How do you handle them? Do we need to outsource expertise, and how do we trust our supply chain?
  • You need to have some digital competency to understand your own systems (even if you are outsourcing). This can be started now, no need to wait to know what the new technology/platform by the Department will be! Take advantage of the free microskills and subsidised Microcredentials in Digital Skills offered by the Institute of Applied Technology. These include:
    • Cloud Computing (Foundations & Advanced)
    • Application of AI for Cybersecurity
    • Basics for Identity Management and Secure Authentication Techniques
    • Cyber Governance and Cyber Planning
    • Data Visualisations Foundations
    • Machine Learning (Foundations & Advanced)
  • There are many technologies that provide a layered approach to security. For example: you can restrict staff perimeter (by establishing secure internet gateways around staff’s laptops, private networks, encryption, multi factor identification.)
  • With COVID-19, organisations had to make quick decisions around remote work. Many have not gone back to those decisions, and hence they are potentially at a higher risk of security breach. Maybe it is time to check that critical security considerations were not overlooked during that time.

Management and Boards drive digital transformation

  • Management/Boards need to drive the process – it starts from solving business and organisational problems, which Boards/Management know about.
  • Be clear about the value you are trying to create. The reasons why an organisation is seeking to create value can be diverse: to be compliant, to have a competitive advantage, to reduce cost, to increase care quality and work satisfaction.
  • Think about the investment before you actually invest. For every $1 invested in technology, there is a correlated $5 that need to be invested in the organisation. That may be change management, changing operations, processes, etc. It takes up to 5 years before providers get a return on investment, and this depends on the technology that is being adopted. It could even be longer.
  • Understanding the sweet spot: between the innovation model (is this idea of product or service desirable? Would people want to have this?), and care transformation model (make the idea real: from a care, operations and financial perspective).

Technology and Humankind go hand in hand

  • Technology and Humankind can be seen as synergistic and collaborative – not competitive. It is about organisations being very clear about what problems they are trying to solve: e.g. meet consumers expectations, balance need for compliance and BAU, harness the data we have, create efficiencies, improve governance etc.
  • In our sector, which is based on a clinical knowledge base, we tend to intervene, i.e., we respond to incidents or we follow a policy, which is an intervention. However, technology is a tool, not an intervention, and should be used in a planned way. What are you trying to achieve with it? What value are you planning to get from it? Digital transformation is about human systems, not necessarily technological systems.
  • If technological change begins with people – organisational culture is key. Think about the rituals of change: celebrate when a team member changes their way of doing. Make sure you bring everyone along for the journey, care staff, operations, finance, Board and spread the knowledge, with regular updates.
  • Consumers need to be fully involved in that change process as well, in a way that is accessible, relevant and sensitive to their needs. Be sure to establish open communication lines with consumers. Do they need support or training to feel comfortable and confident to use technology? Several organisations do offer those services, such as Good Things Foundation Australia, Your Link, or the Tech Savvy Seniors program run in public libraries.