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Innovating in aged care with good data

Innovating in aged care with good data

Providing care and support to older people is becoming more challenging and competitive. Baby boomers are living longer lives, yet they’re also facing higher rates of chronic illness and are needing more complex care.

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Ron Zubrik

Partner, Management Consulting

KPMG Australia

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Man touching digital screen monitoring patient health data

The challenge for both the public and private sectors is to deliver personalised services in the home, and at the right time, with an emphasis on quality of care, all with a finite budget.

Australia is not alone in facing this challenge. Global CEOs of human services organisations, including aged care, have identified five strategic priorities over the next 3 years:

  • Building a stronger customer focus
  • Fostering innovation
  • Developing and managing talent 
  • Becoming more data-driven
  • Digitising the business.

Using data effectively

There is significant opportunity within the aged care sector to better use the available data in organisations to drive innovative service delivery to Australia’s ageing population in their homes.

Challenges

Half of human services CEOs1 believe that they are not using data effectively to connect with their customers. They are not alone, more than one third of CEOs globally2 recognise the same challenge.

For most organisations, it’s not about a lack of access to data, but rather the capability to use it effectively to deliver on the other four strategic priorities identified above. Many aged care organisations have a wealth of data, but few have it in real-time or available to the relevant levels within their organisation.

Business decision makers have a low level of trust in how their organisation is using tools such as data analytics. This makes it difficult to produce real insights.

In the aged care ecosystem, data can be a critical tool which brings to light invaluable, long-term organisational ‘light bulb’ moments. These can include:

  • better understanding of customers
  • adapting services to meet customer needs
  • identifying high cost drivers within services
  • enabling frontline staff to understand what is happening in the life of a customer.

What does this mean in practice?

Rather than relying on ‘gut feel’, applying data analytics can provide actionable, data driven insights to support business decisions.

For example, if a business providing home care services is looking to expand, they may have two options; either expand within their current region or look to expand into a new geographical region. The key decision-maker will often rely on their (and their team’s) experience and understanding of the market alone, rather than consulting data.

There are a number of steps to ensure aged care providers are using data in order to drive innovation and business development within their organisations.

1. Describe the problem that needs to be solved

This might be understanding the market, managing costs, determining areas for growth and expansion, or identifying patterns of consumer behaviour and preferences in sourcing aged care services.

2. Find the data

  • Start collecting data or explore what data sources are currently available.
  • Ensure that any data being collected, or is to be collected in the future, is consistent and ideally real-time. Ensure rules are in place to improve and maintain data quality.
  • Be forward thinking about determining what, if any, privacy provisions will impact the ability to use the data. Is it sensitive data or personal data? Understand obligations under privacy laws in the use and protection of this data.
    Identify any external data sources that may be relevant.

3. Apply analytics

With all of the data that the organisation has to hand, supplemented by external data sources (for example Australian Bureau of Statistics or Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data), analytics is the next step. A decision maker could use data analytics to deeply understand the need for more nursing services, before taking steps to expand the business. Consumer clusters can be differentiated by identifying key attributes, with segmentation enabling a deeper understanding of their needs, and targeting of consumers as the new provider has done in the case of Joan in the case study.

Key questions to understand the current business may include:

  • What does the consumer profile look like?
  • Are there particular segments within the consumer base that are growing faster than others?
  • Are there particular segments/locations that are more profitable than others? 
  • Are there any cost savings that can be realised?

Harnessing these insights through data analytics can support business decisions.

Secondly, for organisations that offer a broad range of services, a better understanding of the different consumer preferences in a specific catchment (for example) can assist in determining the products and services mix needed. The decision maker could utilise client invoices, care plans and/or accounts receivable data.

While using internal data sources can be a good baseline for understanding a business, they will often only show part of the story. Therefore, once patterns have been identified, these can be overlaid with publicly available information on socio-demographic data, to identify or predict other catchments that are likely to exhibit similar consumer preferences.

Data analytics can provide insights both through a lens of the current state, and over time.

Predictive analytics can provide a powerful decision making tool. Some organisations across various industries, including the aged care sector, are developing bespoke platforms drawing on real-time data.

In conclusion

In an environment of increased differentiation, complexity and competition, the analysis and utilisation of data can be a significant competitive advantage for aged care providers to enhance customer expectations and identify market opportunities.

Across the aged care sector, providers already have access to, and retain, large volumes of data, but often fail to capitalise on this. Future market success will partly be dependent on key decision makers having access to the relevant data and insights, ideally in real-time.

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