The new generation of apps in home care built to solve a single problem is turning the traditional software industry on its head, which is good news for Australia’s aged care providers looking for effective, affordable and accessible solutions, writes Ross McDonald.
While many Australian aged care organisations are scrambling, without success, to find the perfect information technology solution that provides ease of use, efficient work practices, reliability and minimum total cost of ownership, there is a revolution of inexpensive and accessible aged care ICT architecture coming.
The limited success of existing aged care software to meet business needs boils down to these solutions having a high cost of ownership in terms of direct licencing, consultant support, complexity and maintenance of integration with other systems.
In the past this has not been such an issue as costs were hidden in the large overheads organisations carried. Now, with consumer directed care and the transparency it requires, organisations that try to pass on large overhead costs will be too expensive and end up with no customers.
Taking home care as an example, there are approximately a dozen software solutions out there, all with their own challenges around integration with other systems.
Based on our experience with dozens of providers, case management and administration costs account for approximately 30 to 50 per cent of an individual’s budget.
These costs contain overheads added by providers to cover their own CDC administration costs, including manual inefficiencies.
Trying to integrate accounting and case management systems and maintaining consistency across them is proving expensive for many providers because it typically requires expensive administrative resources, such as an accountant.
What will organisations do when other operators start quoting 15 per cent for case management and administration, giving 85 per cent of the package to direct care?
Disruption coming: apps in home care
In other sectors, information technology costs have substantially fallen. Hosting costs are down 90 per cent, thanks largely to Amazon; email hosting is down 70 per cent largely due to Gmail; advertising costs are down 90 per cent thanks to Google; and even accounting prices are down 60 per cent with MYOB having to meet the new price set by cloud operator Xero or free accounting package provider Wave.
Even the large enterprise software organisations have had to pivot to the new world, with pure cloud-based operator Netsuite requiring former million dollar accounting packages provider SAP to offer cloud solutions 95 per cent cheaper.
Now the same disruptive forces have been introduced into home care software. There is a strong move to standardisation and integration of focused off-the-shelf software to give businesses the unique solutions they demand.
These are known as ‘point solutions’, built around solving a particular problem. Many are virtually giving away their software while making money by hosting in the cloud and using standardised open source integrations and global scale.
Salesforce, Xero and Netsuite are major global players building eco-systems of seamlessly integrated apps to help their customers tailor an ultimate solution.
Kincare is one large Australian home care provider already within the Salesforce cloud app eco-system.
In the United States, home care is moving in the same direction. One focused emerging player, Kinnser ADLware, is one of the largest cloud-based home health software operators in the world. Today, it has more customers than the whole Australian home care market.
Kinnser ADLware clients are building their custom made home care management solution through a combination of paid and free products, including:
- Freshdesk (customer support);
- Ring Central (phone system);
- Sendhub (SMS broadcast solutions);
- Homecare Interact (homecare social media management);
- Capital Guardians (client financial management);
- Batchgeo (GPS carer tracking);
- Canvas (mobile forms);
- Cudasign (electronic signatures);
- Joinme (remote training);
- Lively (fitbit-like watch with medication reminders, one button help, daily activity sharing); and
- Dexcom (wearable sensor technology).
Most importantly, as with the Apple App store, many companies are welcoming all competitive products to their eco-systems if the integrations and customer experience meets their standards.
There isn’t much exclusivity. Point solutions companies simply need to offer the best solution and price, as the customer ultimately chooses.
Presented at the Leading Aged Services Association National Congress, Melbourne, 12 October 2015.
Published, Nov 20, 2015, Australian Ageing Agenda