Technology will be a major driver behind the Federal Government’s new Support at Home program – and operators will be left behind if they are not able to scale quickly.

BY LAUREN BROOMHAM

 

With the new Support At Home Program due to commence in July 2023, home care providers need to be looking at their IT systems now to ensure that they can meet the increasing requirements for self-management and choice of service providers.

While little is known about what the new Program will look like, the Government has indicated that technology will form an important part of the new system with $154 million in funding over two years announced in the 2021-22 MYEFO to replace and establish a new information and communication technology system to support the Program.

Add in the recent changes to payment arrangements and providers will be increasingly challenged to stay ahead of the pack.

“As a provider, you won’t be able to hold onto the funds as tightly as some have in the past,” said John Perkins, the Founder and CEO of Checked In Care which provides a wide range of digital solutions including management of communications, compliance and reporting, additional services, events, in-home monitoring and more.

“You will see care providers left behind if they are not able to scale and use technology in the new Support at Home framework, particularly around some of the self-management requirements and the need for providers to have multiple choice from multiple providers.”

More home care acquisitions over the next 18 months

Those operators that do not have a clear technology strategy in place are likely to close their doors – while those that are prepared will have greater opportunities to expand through acquisitions.

“We will see some home care providers that don’t have a plan in place start to go out of business over the next 18 months,” said John, who has 30 years’ experience in the aged care and technology sectors.

“Quite simply, they won’t be able to compete, while those that have their technology together will scale quite rapidly and they will absorb those smaller providers and bring them onto their digital platforms.”

To ensure they are staying ahead of the competition, operators will need to be working much more closely with their technology partners to integrate their various systems.

Checked In Care – which was founded by John in 2015 and now has around 200,000 users (55,000 in retirement living, 75,000 in residential care and 80,000 across home care and disability) – is integrated with 45 different platforms, for example.

“We have found in the last 12 months that there is a much better attitude from vendors in terms of working more closely together. But those providers that are still operating on legacy platforms will have the major challenges.”

Operators should look to NDIS systems as potential framework

John also sees that home care providers will need systems that are much more responsive and can enable their clients to make updates in their systems by themselves.

“Imagine in any other industry if people said, ‘Look, you can only talk to us Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm when the call centre is open’,” he cited as an example.

“Essentially, what we are offering to providers is the ability to give their clients and families the same experience that they expect to get from other industries, such as the ability to self-service, send the information they want 24/7, and provide two-way feedback, all through our platform.”

This responsiveness will be essential for providers in the future, with all signs showing that the new home care system will operate very much like the NDIS in terms of its interconnectivity.

John advises operators to look at how the NDIA or PRODA protocol works now or work with organisations that do.

“That is a good framework for providers to understand what is coming. The Government will likely get it wrong – but they have stated that they will digitise so now is the time to get ready.”

John Perkins

THE SOURCE SATURDAY – ISSUE 28-30 APRIL 2022