Integration Is the Foundation for Modernizing Aged Care in Australia

By Steven Muir-McCarey

The elder care industry (or as we call it in Australia, “aged care”) is in the midst of a seismic shift. There is much optimism about the benefits that cloud and IoT technologies can bring to organizations providing care for the elderly and disabled.

But in my conversation with Australian aged care providers, many organization are focused on short-term operational issues and not on building a digital foundation for future growth.

Paralleling the changes taking place within the higher education sector, ongoing healthcare reform measures in Australia, the United States and other parts of the world have had a direct impact on elder care providers.

Like students choosing where and how to pursue their studies, seniors and their family members have more options for healthcare providers and services now than ever before. And as the population of senior citizens increases, it becomes an even greater imperative for care providers to deliver services that meet the demands of digitally savvy consumers.

Read Part I in this series on the elder (aged) care industry and digital transformation.

A Growing, Evolving Market

Certainly there’s a lot at stake. We know that our population is aging. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that one in every seven people in Australia is now age 65 or older. And the United Nations’ World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision states that the number of people age 60 and over in the world (962 million estimated last year) is expected to more than double by 2050.

Such growth puts even more pressure on elder care providers to develop scalable, effective services.

I recently wrote about how cloud technologies can help transform care for the elderly. As our entire population becomes more digitally savvy, aged citizens and their families will expect care providers to be just as digitally modern. Like all customers these days, elder care clients will, for example, expect mobile and IoT-based services, such as wearables and other health monitoring devices.

Aged Care Providers Face Common Issues

However, for a variety of reasons, many aged care providers are hesitant to adopt the new technologies needed to offer these experiences. There are a number of common challenges that may be holding care providers back.

Budget Constraints: Much like higher education institutions, the majority of elder care providers literally cannot afford to make mistakes when implementing a new technology or system. Budgets are planned out well in advance, and there is often not enough money to cover all of the projects or initiatives in the pipeline. And with the fear of hidden project costs, business managers can have a hard time gaining funding for investing in a new technology.

Disparate Systems and Data Silos: Established care providers often have legacy or homegrown systems in place that have been cobbled together over the years. But to provide personalized, tailored services, you need new best-in-breed cloud and IoT technology offerings. The downside is that this often results in disconnected systems, tools and apps — and inconsistent or bad data. For care providers to succeed, they must bring that data together, eliminating silos to build a unified hybrid IT environment.

Scarcity of Technical Resources: With the exception of large enterprises, businesses do not typically have large IT or technical teams devoted to digital transformation initiatives. This lack of resources means that heavily customized solutions, which require significant time investments for day-to-day management, are not an option. Nor are apps that need extensive development and coding time.

Risk Aversion: Many care provider organizations are not-for-profit, and every action will be transparent and highly visible. Taking a chance on new technology can feel risky. And fear of failure leads to extreme caution, as nobody wants to make a costly mistake that will impact the organization’s ability to continue to operate.

Changing How We Care for the Elderly

These challenges may seem insurmountable. But modernization might not be as difficult as you expect. Aged care providers can learn from the high education organizations.

More and more higher education institutions are changing to keep pace with the rapid evolution of student data consumption, becoming connected campuses. Aged care providers can take a page from their book and learn how to digitally evolve while addressing financial and operation challenges.

Set Integration as Your Foundation: Integration is the foundation for transformation. Sharing data is just as important as gathering that data. Getting all your mission-critical data sources and endpoints talking to each other is a huge step towards business modernization — and towards the 360-degree client view necessary for improving patient outcomes.

Save Costs With Cloud Technology: Conveniently, the pay-as-you-go model made possible by cloud technologies is the perfect fit for the typical constraints experienced by elder care providers. Using a cloud-native integration platform also eliminates any need for infrastructure investments or management costs, simplifying the budgeting process.

Choose COTS, Not Bespoke: Rather than spending more time and money on a bespoke system, consider commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology offerings. This is a fast, easy and affordable way to gain a tailored solution that will be easy to learn, allowing your team to get up to speed quickly without extensive training or additional resources.

Clicks, Not Code: Low-code or no-code solutions such as Boomi’s integration cloud are both simpler and faster to deploy than traditional on-premises integration tools. The speed of a modern integration platform provides quick ROI that budgets demand.

“Boomi helped us integrate our environment, ensuring that data is synchronized across our applications no matter where they are accessed from.”

— Luke Van Leeuwen, Associate Director of Technology and Business Services, The Fred Hollows Foundation

Improving Patient Outcomes With Boomi

There are a number of benefits to being a more connected business. For elder care providers, the ability to offer personalized services and better care not only helps people, but will help you stay relevant and competitive. In an industry where prospective clients have an ever-expanding array of choices, you can’t afford to stay idle.

That’s where Boomi can help. Customers and partners around the globe are using Boomi in all sorts of ways to improve patient outcomes through cloud and the IoT. Here are a couple of examples that illustrate some of the possibilities.

Customer Story | Connecting Smart Healthcare Devices

Dutch company digitalAngel is working with Boomi and Nalta Group to create one of the world’s first open IoT platforms for connecting and managing data from any smart healthcare device. At Boomi World 2018, digitalAngel spoke about its pilot program and how it is helping elder care providers deliver more effective services to their patients.

For the pilot, digitalAngel is using Boomi to increase the competitiveness of elder care living centers with data from smart mattresses. These “smart beds” alert care staff to any unusual health readings or events such as a patient struggling to change position or falling out of bed.

digitalAngel relies on Boomi to manage the multi-directional data flows among Salesforce, an IoT gateway, its custom-built care portal and a database API. Without Boomi, says Mike Veldhuis, managing partner of Nalta Group, the platform wouldn’t work.

“When you look at the data flow from all of these sensors and smart devices and related applications like Salesforce, the data in an IoT network quickly becomes massive,” Veldhuis explained. “It could be a challenge to know what is happening with all that data, but that is the beauty of Boomi. We know exactly where that data sits and where it is going.”

Customer Story | Driving Efficiency and Better Business Decisions

The Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian charity working to eliminate blindness, uses the Boomi cloud-native integration platform to increase efficiency.

Boomi helps the Foundation ensure that information is available to its personnel no matter where they are located. Data on key organizational performance indicators, including the number of cataract operations performed, patient demographics, and data on the geographic distribution of demand, help the Foundation make key operational decisions. The ultimate result of these efforts: more people who regain their sight.

“Data is central to an organization like ours. The Foundation relies on it to make business decisions, better understand our patients, and, ultimately, extend the reach of our efforts around the world,” says Luke Van Leeuwen, associate director of technology and business services at The Fred Hollows Foundation. “Boomi helped us integrate our environment, ensuring that data is synchronized across our applications no matter where they are accessed from.”

An Integration Strategy to Inform and Transform Your Business

To harness the power of the cloud and IoT — and to modernize your business — your strategy needs to have integration as its bedrock. Just collecting the data isn’t enough: you need to ensure that you are collecting the right data from the right sources, synchronizing it with the right systems to ensure accuracy, and have a plan in place to put it to good use. That’s what digital transformation is all about.

Boomi’s unified platform helps you take the guesswork out of integration and focus on what really matters: delivering better services to your clients and improving 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 Boomi’s enterprise account executive in the Asia-Pacific Region.