Technology innovation can be absolutely critical for an organisation’s growth. How we harness its potential relies on identifying both the current obstacles and the future opportunities for business development.
It’s about asking staff and customers what they need and identifying how things can be done differently or better. It’s about considering the technology that already exists and whether it can be adapted to a different industry. If it doesn’t exist, it becomes a question of finding out who can help develop it.
If ever there was an industry needing to find smarter and more effective ways of delivering services, it is aged care. This is not a criticism of the industry, rather recognition of an increasing demand for aged care versus a diminishing supply. Great ideas need to be embraced in order to make an already stretched budget go further.
By recognising potential avenues of growth Feros Care has been able to actively pursue solutions to help us meet increased service demand. We have grown from servicing a single region to expanding across the eastern coast of Australia. This was only possible because we adopted – and continue to adopt – new and innovative technology.
Some of the things we’ve learnt along the way include:
Invest in technology
Technology requires significant time and investment, research, pilots and evaluation. At Feros we deliberately made that investment. We recognised that as a small community owned not-for-profit organisation we had to find smarter ways of operating if we were to remain viable in an ever-changing environment. Our strategic plan focuses on deploying technology to enable our growth – both operationally and for service delivery.
Yes it can be costly in the short term, but we’ve found the long term cost saving and benefits are critical to our industry. You can do more and deliver more with the assistance of technology, particularly if you need to service an expanding geographic area.
Be mindful that the technology you invest in has to have a purpose for your organisation. It’s important not to buy technology for technology’s sake. Be clear about how using technology will benefit your business. At Feros we set up a dedicated Innovation Centre and every emerging technology we embrace is designed to improve people’s lives, that of our clients and our staff.
Be a leader in technology
Establishing yourself as a leader in your sector can be a key point of difference in attracting clients to your business. Technology was absolutely critical for Feros Care’s expansion so we embraced in wholeheartedly.
As a result we’re now known as a leader in technology in the aged care sector and this is integral to how we are seen in the marketplace.
Combine great people with great technology
Pairing a tech savvy workforce with technology innovations is really important. Technology can assist with the likes of centralised rostering and client management systems. New systems allow staff to be upskilled and also eliminate paperwork and the duplication of work.
A workplace team that is across technological developments can help increase your productivity. Training is key. If staff can experience first hand the benefits that technology provides to their workday they are more enthusiastic about embracing innovations.
This needs to be backed up by a dedicated IT team who can fix problems quickly and talk people through how to use the technology in place. Not everyone understands, or indeed wants to understand, the finer details of technology. If you have a team of experts on hand to assist it can make a big difference.
From our experience if, for example, you adopt technology to support a remote workforce it can also lead to attracting a specific type of employee. Staff who apply for this type of position tend to be already competent in using a range of technology products to do their jobs.
Source technology the market will embrace
The fact is that people embrace technology when there is a motivation specific to them. Consider what motivates your clients or staff. What do they need? How can it be used? How is the technology best delivered?
In our case there was an almost pre-ordained notion that seniors don’t use technology and if anything are technology adverse. Our experience does not uphold this view.
Our clients welcome technology.They have readily adopted innovations like personal alarms – so they can feel more confident – through to technology that monitors their health and alerts a telehealth nurse if they’re unwell.
We witness first hand how our clients skype family and friends, have an online consulation with medical practitioners, or participate in online weekly bingo sessions.
Look within your organisation
Innovation can come from all levels of the organisation. Encourage staff to collaborate and contribute clever ideas and workplace solutions. Sometimes these people are the best people to identify how a simple change could yield major benefits. Your IT team can then step in to help make it happen.
That said, keep an eye on non-related industries too. Sometimes the technology already exists and simply needs to be adapted to your needs.
Share Your Learnings
If you are recognised as a pioneer in using technology within your industry, it’s great to be able to share your knowledge.
The aged care industry has a steep curve ahead in terms of managing increased demand for services. We’ve recognised the need to collaborate with others in the aged and community care sector to find and establish best practice models going forward.