By Adam Hutchison – MD @ Belmont Sandbanks Care Group & Vice Chair of KiCA
Following a recent article published on the Rise of Technology in the Healthcare sector, its appropriate to now look at the progress being made. Many providers and operators alike would have attended a wealth of exhibitions and sector based workshops in 2017 and there is a common theme – the software company.
You will see a wealth of companies proposing new and innovative software solutions to which will benefit the sector greatly through improved efficiency, productivity and overall cost savings. The position is clear software as a whole has revolutionized many sectors including healthcare this is true but there is a HUGE BUT, this is done through active and balanced development of services which matches the sector specifics in question. On of the major issues facing the sector is the over subscription of software solutions which do not all fit together effectively.
As with many forms of business there is an underlying issue with continuity of services, this is very much displayed in the Social Care Sector by the way of multi forms of software which only focus on 1 area rather than a wider range of coverage. An example phrase used here is “square pegs in round holes”.
Here are some major software areas in question:
- Rota systems
- Care Planning systems
- Clocking in Systems
- Payroll solutions
- Home Care solutions
- Room Tracking / Sensory Software
- Activity Tracking solutions
- Reminiscence software
- Auditing Software
As care services are encouraged to become more innovative by the CQC there is a demand for solutions which can aid these improvements. Although when looking at the list above it is clear that the majority of services on the market only successfully focus on 1 of the areas 2 at best – some have the ability to offer others but due to them not being the major focus of the software initially they become a bit part by product of the service and therefore ineffective.
The challenge therefore to be laid down is for companies wanted to add value to the sector to begin to either collaborate effectively to integrate into each others software or for some to step out of the norm and develop a wide reaching piece of software which enables a significant scope across all these areas.
Why is this important? Because the sector simply cannot be responsible for enabling, paying for and integrating multiple forms of software. The sector is crying out for support on this subject as it does not have a wealth of experience in software implementation. For any solutions to be successful they need to offer as much of a rounded offering as possible – because the cost implications of implementation / storage / systems and processing of any software solution can be expensive in return and it is simply impossible for any provider regardless of size to have all the solutions at once because this is never going to be cost effective and sadly the only winners in this scenario are those selling the solutions and not the providers. Ultimately then reducing any benefits which could be outcome based for those using the care services which is actually the end goal surely.
Total integration of services:
Now is we are discussing integration of services it would be remiss not to discuss the utopian state! That is a fully integrated health and social care service. With the drive and demand for integrated services on the front line to become more integrated there is surely a call to link up software systems. Vanguard and STP modelling across the UK are looking to embrace the link from Care Home, Home Care Service to GP and Hospital outreach services all resulting in better outcomes of care for individuals. All this makes perfect sense – a BIG YES we here from society. Now we hit the software snag! Who or what software is now going to enable access of multiple patient records across NHS, Social Service and Private sector organisations.
A pivotal piece of this jigsaw is how service records can be effectively handed off through out services showing true developed integration of services for patient benefit. The snags come from data protection, system linkage and software compatibility. Imagine the benefit to the wider picture if the access to information was integrated to such a degree that everyone knows what was happening at any point in any service – this is innovation and this is integration. The issue here though is not the technology– it’s the desire and ability for multiple vendors to openly create a service that benefits the end user. There the challenge is set to a software innovator to exploit – we await your answers on a postcard!