Digital transformation in the care sector is no longer the future and the benefits of the technological revolution have been felt far and wide across the sector.
Despite this, and the numerous benefits that technologies have shown in all areas of care, we are still seeing some reluctance towards digital transformation. While there is a common misconception that this is down to many care professionals fearing technology, this is simply not the case.
Past research from Skills for Care revealed that 95% of those working in the sector use digital technology in their work; and that the great majority are strongly positive about the potential of digital technology to improve efficiency and quality of care services. We also know that digital transformations are occurring, because we work with care providers up and down the country who are looking to digitise their care records every day.
It is, therefore, not the fear of technology that acts as the barrier, but, in fact, the fear of change.
Perceptions vs. truth of digital transformation
In our experience, there is a clear misunderstanding between what the perceived barriers are to adopting technology, versus what the actual barriers are.
Few worry about job automation. There are many instances where advancements in technology remove the need for physical people – you only need to go to your local supermarket to see self-service check-outs, or go online to realise how much of your daily life you can manage without interacting with a person.
In the care sector, however, suggestions that Pepper the Robot will eventually replace carers are disregarded because there are two key things that computers cannot impersonate: social intelligence and emotional interpretation. The adoption of technology in care is not about replacing human interaction, but facilitating more of it through time-saving.
In contrast, the biggest barrier that we do hear care providers talk about is their concern that their staff will not have the necessary skills or inclination to adopt technology. In reality, we actually find the opposite is true.
According to Skills for Care’s The State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England, 2017, the average age of a care worker is 43 and a fifth are aged over 55. Data from Statista shows that in these age groups, smartphone ownership is at 88% and 47% respectively. So, the physical use of technology is not alien. With a new younger generation of care workers coming into the sector, all of whom have grown up using technology, confidence in ability is only likely to increase.
The level of notes we have to record in care is often a point of contention and this can also act as a barrier. However, the fact of the matter is that we have to record notes, because without doing so, we have no method of evidencing care. After all, ‘if it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen’.
It’s not about working out how we can get away with recording less information, but instead how we can improve the amount of high-quality information we record in the least amount of time. This is exactly what digital solutions allow you to do.
Further to this, technology also allows you to make use of all of that recorded information, so that it can be better used to directly benefit care; rather than being filed away in a locked room.
Effective change management is key
The problem, usually, is not care team capability or the use of the actual technology, but how the digital transformation process is approached, and the tools and support provided during this process.
Going from paper to electronic care notes and care plans is not just a change in the physical process, but also to the content that is recorded. As a result, the approach to managing the change must address culture as much as technology.
In the latest issue of Care Management Matters, our Head of Digital Transformation, Luis Zenha Rela, explains how care providers can implement an effective change management process.
You can read the full article online here.
Digital transformation will never be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario, and the power of technology comes just as much from how it is integrated as the functions of the technology itself.
Embrace this innovation, choose the right solution for you and give special consideration to the change management process, and you might be surprised by how much technology can enhance the quality of care your service provides.