The Benefits & Risks of Digital Transformation in Care

The Benefits & Risks of Digital Transformation in Care webinar banner

PainChek has partnered with Person Centred Software, ATLAS eMAR and Ascom in the UK to launch the ‘Care Home of the Future’ — an initiative that helps the care home sector move towards a stronger post-COVID future.

 

In our first webinar, we explored the three stages that existing providers need to take to truly become a care home of the future. In this follow-up, we invited panellists Claire Sutton, Digital Transformation Lead at Digital Social Care; Daniel Casson, Digital Development Executive at Care England; and Anita Astle MBE, owner of Wren Hall Nursing Home to discuss the benefits and risks of digital transformation in care.

We’ve condensed a selection of key insights from the hour-long discussion into an abridged version below. This content has been edited for readability purposes — if you’d prefer to watch the webinar in its entirety, please register here.

Drew Hunt, Marketing Officer for PainChek (DH): Thank you very much for joining. During our previous webinar, we discussed the three stages that providers go through in their journey to become a care home of the future. These are digitising care, joining up care, and transforming care.

However, a number of risks and benefits come with each of these stages, and many of you indicated that you were interested in exploring in more detail. That’s what we will cover off today, together with our panellists.

DH: So let’s start with the first question. How would you recommend providers go about choosing their digital care systems? Is there anything they should or shouldn’t do?

Claire Sutton, Digital Transformation Lead at Digital Social Care (CS): Do your research first and foremost. There are plenty of resources out there to look at to get information around this, and understand what sort of questions you should be asking when you’re looking at procuring software solutions.

Don’t simply rush into it. I think you've really got to think about what problem you're trying to solve, and then look at how you can solve it.

There are a lot of people that have jumped in and thrown a lot of money at things, then found later down the line that it possibly wasn’t the right solution for them. Taking a little bit of time in the beginning can save an awful lot of time and money down the line.

Daniel Casson, Digital Development Executive at Care England (DC): Definitely. Reflect and ask yourself: what outcomes do we want? What are our values? Who are the people we’re going to be working with, what do each of them want from our solutions, and what are the outcomes that we’re looking at? Take a step back and don’t go straight into it. Look at how this is going to fit into your general strategy and your overall objectives — then you can move forward.

DH: Completely agreed. Not rushing into things is so important. I’ve spoken to many providers in the past who have implemented three different care planning systems, because the subsequent ones didn’t quite meet their needs. And obviously, by doing that, your investment ends up costing you way more than it should.

Anita Astle MBE, owner of Wren Hall Nursing Home (AA): I’m going to build on what Daniel’s just said and add: Look at what you’ve spent, what you spend most of your time doing. What is the information that you’re lacking? How much time is spending getting that information, and what would give you that information that you’re spending all this time on?

Time is precious. We need to be effective, we need to be efficient. If we look at how we are spending our time, that can often guide as to what information we need.

DH: That’s absolutely correct. Software costs money, but as does time. When you look at technology as a tool to help cut down on the time you’re spending on paper based systems and improve efficiencies, it becomes more of an investment than a cost.

DH: On to the next question. Do you see a resistance in the care sector to embracing technology due to a lack of understanding?

CS: Actually, I think that the digital literacy within the care sector is probably a lot higher than any of us give it credit for. It’s the digital confidence that feels lower.

In any care home, there is the fantastic carer who’s worked there for her whole life. She’s your absolute best carer, she knows the job inside out, she delivers 100% perfect care all the time. But when she’s presented with the option of using something like electronic care planning, she goes, “I can’t do that.” But on her break, she gets on a phone and FaceTimes her granddaughter and plays Candy Crush. Actually, all of the things that she’s doing in that scenario are things that she will be able to do in embracing technology.

It’s confidence, rather than a lack of understanding that I think holds back the sector on an individual basis. I think where there is a bit of a lack of understanding is in how utilising these technologies that we all use in different aspects of our lives anyway, as a cohesive system of lots of different pieces of technology can really and truly improve outcomes for the individuals that we support.

DC: On that point, I think it’s also a lack of understanding of the value that is created. And that’s not just the value in immediate terms — it’s the long term value. I think it was on the last webinar where, where Ernie Graham said “it’s actually not the cost of doing this. It’s the cost of not doing this that we should be looking at.”

People have really got to consider in the longer term, how this is going to make them better organisations, and be able to help people have a better quality of life?

Another thing that really stops people getting into it is not knowing where to start. The recalcitrance to actually start is because people don’t know how to. So what I’d say is: take the bait, look inside yourself, look at what you want, and then start taking those baby steps in starting. Try things and see where you are, because that’s the only way you’ll start finding out what’s wrong and what needs to be improved.

DH: Do you think there are any unintended consequences of going digital?

CS: One word of caution for anybody when they first go digital: the sudden wealth of information that you’re presented with can make it look like you’re not doing very well. So you suddenly find that you are able to spot things that you might not have already, or that might not have been as easy to spot. The unintended consequence is that initially, it can appear that you’re not doing that well. But actually, this is a positive because you are being alerted to the fact that something isn’t happening that you would have liked to happen, or you’re getting a number of alerts through for something that you weren’t doing.

DC: It’s interesting because this question naturally leads you to think of the negative consequences, but I immediately thought of the positives.

When we're talking to people who've adopted digital solutions, one thing they find is the staff are more engaged and have more of a way to put two and two together. At the same time, families are more engaged. While this means there are more stakeholders to manage, it can make you a more transparent organisation.

AA: Similar to Daniel, I only have positive things to say. When we introduced handheld devices for our staff to use, they literally needed a 10 minute training session. That was it. For some, it was far less than that. And then, over the next few days, people were saying, did you realize it can do this? And I was like, “No, I didn’t realize that.” The staff were teaching us half the benefits because they’re curious and they explore.

DH: That’s great to hear. Now moving on to another topic: data. Is there a danger that regulatory inspectors might be swamped by data which confirms compliance but fails to appreciate the less tangible benefits and which are harder to record? How do we educate the inspectors to bring them up to speed?

CS: There’s almost an element of responsibility for care providers to not just say “here’s all the data”. You have it set out in a way that’s easy to grasp and easy to understand. It’s there that we can make use of the things that are built into technology to process that information and present it in a way that makes it valuable to all stakeholders, including the inspector.

DC: Building on that — we have to take the lead. As providers, we know a lot more about what’s possible with digital technology than inspectors maybe do. Don’t be afraid to take the lead and show them where to go.

AA: Yes, there’s loads of data that we can have access to. Yes, it gives us information we may not have had before.

But the important thing is to understand the data that you've got, understand what it is telling you and then identify what you're going to do with that data.

If you then choose to do something with it, do it and then show the inspector how you’re using it.

DH: Absolutely. I think differentiating between data and information is a crucial point here.

Before we wrap up, we have received one last question from our webinar attendees that I’d like to cover. This one’s for Anita: how pain trackers have assisted you in pain management?

AA: Even though we’ve only been using PainChek for a week, we find that the tracker registers pain from facial recognition that we wouldn’t notice in the same way. Normally our staff are very good at picking up on nonverbal cues when people are in pain. However, normally by the time we’re responding to their pain or their behaviors, their pain is such that it has stimulated additional behaviors that actually we wouldn’t want to have stimulated. Then the person started to either become agitated or distressed. However, with pain trackers it seems like we’re starting to get indications that people are in pain before that, and therefore, we’re responding with appropriate pain relief more quickly.

Thank you again to Claire, Anita, and Daniel for sharing their insights with us. If you’d like to learn more about how digital transformation can improve quality of care and operational efficiency, get in touch with the PainChek team here.

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