Cloud Technologies Helping Transform Long-Term Care for the Elderly

October 31, 2018 Steven Muir-McCarey

Old woman holding hand of younger care giver, in black and white.

The number and proportion of older people in the global population is growing quickly. And this is especially true in Australia, where I live.

While the market is expanding, competition is building as well. These days, there are many more choices when it comes to long-term care. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon care facility operators to continually improve what they offer and how they offer it — or risk losing out to other providers in this increasingly competitive and rapidly growing market.

Just as in other industries such as retail, financial services or manufacturing, cloud computing and digital transformation are critical for elder care (“aged care” in Australia). Providers need to deliver tailored services in a convenient and intuitive way that is now expected by consumers.

Cloud-based applications and emerging technologies such as smart devices and artificial intelligence are the tools for improvement. But integrating these new technologies with legacy systems is a potential roadblock for innovation.

The need to create seamless, flexible digital infrastructure should be at the core of this smart device revolution, helping organizations more easily deploy and manage any application or cloud service. Critically, care home providers need a low-code, cloud-native integration platform in place to transition to modern systems that will set the foundation for ensuring market-leading services and business growth.

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We are seeing more and more innovative technologies being deployed as cloud-only offerings. Ad hoc adoption of these applications and platforms result in a disjointed hybrid infrastructure, where data resides in different, unconnected locations. For care providers to succeed, they must bring that data together, eliminating silos to build a unified hybrid IT environment.

If something is that important, then an IT organization better do it well. What’s the best way to ensure that an IT organization does integration well? By establishing an integration center of excellence.

Integration centers of excellence turn out to be a key part of a larger transformation of IT and the IT organization’s relationship to business overall.

In this post, I’ll take a quick look at how IT is changing, what that change means for integration and integration centers of excellence, and how the Dell Boomi platform helps those centers of excellence deliver the integrations that digital transformation initiatives depend on.

Care for an Aging Population: A Global Challenge

The United Nations states that population aging is “poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century.” In the United States, approximately 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years. One-fifth of the population of Europe is already over 65. And in Australia, the number of citizens who are 65 and over is projected to more than double by 2057, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

AIHW reports that 215,000 Australians entered residential care, home care and transition care in 2016 and 2017. And according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of residents aged 65 and over has increased to one in every six people in 2016 — sixteen percent of the Australian population. That’s a large market for aged care providers, and it’s only going to get bigger.

It’s not limited to seniors, either: the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) now serves 200,000 Australians, and NDIS participants can choose to purchase their support services from most any long-term care provider.

Due to ongoing reforms that began in 2012, Australians now have a wider range of options for selecting care services for the elderly and disabled. The move to a consumer-directed care system helps Australian citizens receive care based on their personal needs. Now, eligible participants are given a budget and the flexibility to choose how to spend it, and with whom.

High Expectations for Digital Health

Australia’s My Aged Care portal offers a wealth of home-based care options — so many that it can be overwhelming for seniors to sort through all the choices. Having too many options can be challenging. To be able to provide better consultations and personalized digital services tailored to each client, care organizations need better access to their own data.

Providing a modern digital experience for aged care is even more important than what some providers might assume. Belying anecdotal wisdom, Pew Research has found that although seniors consistently have lower rates of technology adoption than the general public, this group is now more digitally connected than ever.

Mirroring the digital experiences available in other industries, interactions with care providers should be seamless, consistent and personalized. In addition to seniors becoming more technologically savvy, their adult children are often the main decision makers for their parents’ care.

These working-age adults are used to omnichannel delivery of services, from online shopping to mobile insurance claims. And they expect to be able to use these same digital channels for their parent’s care. These days, this expectation must be met.

Cloud and IoT in Healthcare

To provide more personalized, omnichannel interactions and services, progressive long-term care organizations are looking to newer, cloud-based technologies. Couple this with the growth of IoT technology in healthcare.

Remote health monitoring, especially wearable devices that track and communicate health status to doctors, is becoming common for both seniors and those with chronic health issues. Wearing a Fitbit that doubles as a watch is an easy step towards digital care.

An Accenture study conducted in 2016 shows that the majority of Australian seniors use digital devices to manage their health.

For aged care providers, the tracking of staff and inventory made possible by the IoT allows care facility residents to easily schedule appointments and be guaranteed that they will get the medication they need when and where they need it.

If something is that important, then an IT organization better do it well. What’s the best way to ensure that an IT organization does integration well? By establishing an integration center of excellence.

Integration centers of excellence turn out to be a key part of a larger transformation of IT and the IT organization’s relationship to business overall.

In this post, I’ll take a quick look at how IT is changing, what that change means for integration and integration centers of excellence, and how the Dell Boomi platform helps those centers of excellence deliver the integrations that digital transformation initiatives depend on.

Digital Transformation Requires Integration

The nirvana for all healthcare providers is having a 360-degree view of the patient that gives them the ability to deliver personalized service and better patient outcomes. But it’s impossible to achieve this with data silos. Integration is needed.

Many providers have been using the same IT systems for years. While it’s possible to design a system that will work within a single organization or with one legacy system through patchwork, it can’t scale. The proliferation of data in these disconnected systems leads to duplication of information and lack of holistic visibility.

When new, cloud-based data sources such as IoT devices or apps need to be connected, the systems aren’t able to seamlessly interoperate or synchronize data. Compounding the issues, business processes often aren’t configured to support this fragmented data, resulting in a higher risk of error.

Data governance, security and compliance are also drivers for integration. Regulations and data standards vary by country, state and industry sector — some broader data protection requirements and some specific to healthcare within a certain region.

New elder care quality standards monitored by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will go into effect later this year, with “respect consumers’ privacy” as a key component for providers. Connecting key systems with a secure integration platform can help maintain compliance and provide customers with peace of mind about the safety of their personal health data.

Achieving a 360-Degree Patient View — Affordably

Cost, resources and time are often perceived as barriers to entry when it comes to integration. The vast majority of long-term care providers simply don’t have the budget for costly infrastructure, or the time and technical resources needed to implement and maintain bulky systems.

When it comes to integration, you need something that is affordable, easy to implement, easy to learn and delivers results quickly.

Dell Boomi helps aged and disability care providers reduce processing time and costs, strengthen compliance and provide a better patient experience — quickly and affordably. Hundreds of healthcare organizations around the globe use Boomi’s cloud-native, low-code integration platform to safely and securely integrate patient and vendor data, plus streamline processes such as NDIS submissions.

With Boomi, there is no hardware to install or maintain. And Boomi’s visually-oriented “clicks, not code” development environment is fast and easy to learn, even for business staff. This low-code approach makes it far easier to integrate newer cloud applications with legacy systems. Integrations that may have taken months or weeks take only days or even hours.

Core integration is the first and most critical step. Once your data silos are connected, Boomi’s Master Data Hub can help you govern data quality and synchronization among applications, delivering that “golden record” of information for ensuring an accurate 360-degree patient view. Additional offerings like Boomi Flow introduce people and processes to your integrations for end-to-end workflow orchestration.

From there, the sky’s the limit when it comes to finding new and innovative ways of delivering better patient care and improved patient outcomes.

If you would like to know more about how Boomi is helping aged care providers in the Asia-Pacific region, please contact a Boomi integration expert or find me on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Steven Muir-McCarey is Dell Boomi’s enterprise account executive in the Asia-Pacific region.

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