Expansion of an IT start-up in providing a software solution for Care homes in UK
Generally, strategic management is concerned with how an organisation’s top management formulates and executes key goals, policies, and plans to meet specific objectives in an environment constrained by resources and a collection of other dynamic internal and external factors (Wit & Meyer 2010). The major competitive advantage strategies that will be considered in this review include product/service differentiation, cost leadership, and operational excellence. The literature highlights the problem areas within care homes and then shows the opportunities that are there for an IT start-up with care home support solutions for the problems. The literature also connects the problems areas with strategic management paradoxes such as market-driven or resource-driven and the paradox of profitability and responsibility. This approach will help relate the strategic perspective of the care home industry for the development of a well-researched IT solution to support care home organizations deliver their services to the needs and expectations of their customers. As one of the major enablers of competitiveness, transforming customer demands and expectations into valuable care services in a market context faced by dynamic internal and external factors require a strategic approach to achieve the desired growth as well as competitiveness.
THE PROBLEM AREAS WITHIN CARE HOMES
Increasingly growing demand for personalized care services
There has been growing demand for personalized care services over the past ten years – a trend that can be attributed to the increasing number of persons with intricate care and support needs. For example, more than 20% of the elderly people above 65 years in the UK are care home residents and the number of persons with over 65 years old is expected to rise by close to 40% by 2033 (Age UK Organisation 2016; Ruddick 2015). Furthermore, the demand for beds in UK care homes is set to increase by 15% by 2040, further challenging the quality of care services provided to the elderly (Age UK Organisation 2016).
Coordination of specialists from different fields
Maintaining active communications between care professionals poses challenges across many care home settings. The issue is even more complicated when several care practitioners are offering services to one or more persons with intricate care needs, principally because the persons involved (usually care professionals and regulators) are required to share their individual piece of information for a comprehensive understanding of the specific conditions of a patient or client and timely and accurate tracking of changes. In addition, there is a wide array of regulations and agency policies that need to be navigated and complied with by the care providers to assure high-quality services. Unfortunately, some information does not always get to the right persons due to communication and coordination challenges that inhibit efforts to streamline the underlying processes (Paquet 2016). These are problems that can greatly inhibit the quality of care and support services in a care home organization.
Keeping care recipients and their family members adequately informed
While active communications between care givers and associated professionals to enable them stay updated with what is going on, even care recipients and their family members must be kept informed. Care home organizations need to come up with methods of making sure that the right members within a patient’s circle understand appropriate information about symptoms and medications or treatment. Keeping care recipients and their family members adequately informed is especially important when dealing with clients with intricate care needs because there are high chances of undergoing extended treatments, visiting more practitioners, and taking more medications compared to clients with basic chronic conditions. In such intricate care need scenarios, a patient may end up forgetting to take a certain medication or fail to meet a care-related appointment. In practice, maintaining an informed population of clients and authorised family members is a challenging exercise (Ott 2015; Paquet 2016).
Security and safety of staff and clients
The security and safety of clients in care homes is paramount as it helps prevent a number of dangers. For example, a dementia patient may exit the care home without the attention of care providers and be hit by a speeding motorist. Even within the care facilities, a patient may gain entry into a sloppy area and slide, leading to unwanted fractures. Staff may also be attacked by outsiders while in the line of duty (Victor 2010).
Growing financial pressures
The general care industry continue to face financial pressures as governments come up with reforms to cut the costs of care home and nursing home support (Lopez & Dupuis 2014). In the UK, the gap between the costs of care homes and the funding for the vulnerable aged population by the local authorities is widening, implying that approximately 50% of the UK’s care home opportunities could disappear since providers may go under. The Southern Cross (one of the biggest care home organizations) collapse in 2010 still hangs over the UK care home sector, causing immense worry and uncertainty for close to 31,000 of its clients and their family members. It was until the competitors of Southern Cross agreed to step forward and rescue a good number of the residents (Ruddick 2015). Simply put, the decline in government-based reimbursements to care organizations necessitates tightened cost controls in order to maintain sustained operations without withdrawing a number of services. In fact, closures in the care home industry may exceed new openings if managers in these organizations do not develop measures to combat rising costs. As one of the controls, care agencies have turned to low salaries and benefits. Consequently, care homes have one of the highest staff turnovers in the service sector and continue to face problems in recruitment. The dilemma is felt across local and national boundaries, thus it is challenging for care homes to meet the service demands for their clients without sufficient staffing levels. Moreover, necessary funding is constrained by the need for specialised medical facilities to cater for intensive treatments in care homes (Cousins et al. 2016).
Even worse, high property rents and costs related to debts, capital expenditure, and maintenance are making care homes in the UK feel the squeeze. Four Seasons with 470 homes and approximately 22,000 beds is close to experiencing a new crisis since it is losing pounds in excess of millions per year and struggling with £500 million in debts (Ruddick 2015). Medication management issues
The major challenge facing care homes is the capacity to provide adequate and appropriate medical care to clients suffering from frail health conditions. While in poor health, clients are likely to rapidly deteriorate in their condition id subjected to insufficient and improper treatment or medication (Quadagno & Stahl 2003). Efforts pursued in recent years are mainly focused on establishing quality standards that can be measured in a scheduled manner to serve the purpose of care quality certification, service improvement and effectiveness, proper leadership or management, and regulation. In addition, quality standards are aimed at forming the basis for consumers to make their decisions about seeking the services of a care home in terms of the degree of responsiveness to their needs (Care Quality Commission 2012).
Leisure and wellness management issues
Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulations prioritise nutrition and hydration assessments in care homes. This can be attributed to the fact that poor nutrition and hydration is a recipe for severe health and wellness problems to resident satisfaction. Moreover, relatives and friends tend to be dissatisfied with care homes that provide poor levels of nutrition and hydration (Care Quality Commission 2012; Letts et al. 2011).
OPPORTUNITIES FOR A START-UP IT FIRM IN RELATION TO ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM AREAS
Basically, how can care agencies continue delivering high-quality and more-efficient services in a sustainable way in the wake of growing demand? Is IT a viable solution, or is it just a hyped solution? Lopez and Dupuis (2014) argues that the care home sector is in the process of a massive technological revolution aimed at transforming the industry’s businesses as shown by statistics released by companies such as Lucintel. Legacy technological systems continue to be replaced with modern faster and increasingly powerful technologies. Care technology advancements are taking place at an ever increasing rate for applications such as autonomous health monitoring, pharmaceutical administrations, and others (Halvorson 2013).
Agencies such as the National Information Board (NIB) are working towards putting technology and data to social work for citizens, service users, and care professionals to assure improved and sustainable care and health. There are proposals intended to bring change for people to be in a position to access their care records in digitized formats and make the UK a leader in digital health and care economy through best use of technology and data. Technology-enabled care services may help commissioners, carers, and patients enjoy maximized value of technology in the healthcare economy. The CQC is involved in the inspection of UK’s care homes twice a year or once in two years depending on quality performance trends, and technology-enabled care services can help a care home maintain or even improve its rating. This is because technology directly supports the care delivery process by enabling the following major areas:
- Safety: clients are protected from avoidable harm and abuse. As a solution to security and safety risks, the care home perimeter should be secured by CCTV camera systems. Moreover, dangerous zones and doors should be alarmed and actively monitored.
- Effectiveness: clients are assured of the life they choose to live, quality of life, and best health.
- Responsiveness: services are well organized.
- Proper leadership: the management inspires personalised and high-quality care while at the same time promoting a fair and transparent culture (Maczka, Parry & Curry 2016,).
The findings from a review conducted by South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA), a network of social care and health providers, research and academic institutions, government agencies, and policymakers to investigate the extent to which technology has been deployed in the care sector shows that IT deployments in this industry has been insignificant – only about 40% of care homes use technologically-enabled solutions in their service delivery. Apparently, adoption is skewed towards providing staff with care service-related information such as personnel visits to residents, updating care records, and raising alerts in case of missed staff visits and fall incidents, electronic care records and document handling, telehealth, and video-enabled rehabilitation consoles. In addition, the study showed that close to 80% of care homes still rely on paper-based record management approaches (Maczka, Parry & Curry 2016). Common technologies used in any organisation such as staff-rostering software, finance and accounting systems, corporate websites, and social media and text-messaging have immense potential for care homes (Wood 2015).
With service improvement being a must to attract more clients and to avoid legal and regulatory compliance risks that may lead to loss of registration, care homes need to adopt technology as they stand to gain immense benefits. Technology-enabled care services stand to eliminate possibilities of one or more key inspection criteria being rated as ‘ Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’ by demonstrating evidence of compliance with good care standards such as absence of medication errors (Lane 2013). Therefore, technology can help remedy the problem areas in the care home sector; it can reduce inconsistencies in care delivery and meet regulatory standards and industry best practices.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CARE HOME PROBLEMS AREAS WITH STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT’S MARKET-DRIVEN OR RESOURCE-DRIVEN PARADOXES
A market-driven strategy basically allows s a business better understand the market and its customers towards achieving a competitive advantage and developing long-term relationships with the customers. Therefore, when formulating the strategy, the primary logic rests on understanding the market and customers in the market. This way it is possible to gain competitor intelligence, determine unique capabilities and offer outstanding customer value – actions critical to achieving superior business performance (Sciarelli 2008). Rothaermel (2012) adds cross-functional coordination as another key market-driven requirement. On the other hand, a resource-driven strategy perceives resources as critical to superior business performance and sustainable competitive advantage. The argument behind this strategic approach is that a company should leverage its internal sources of competitiveness as opposed to the external competitive environment (Adamides 2015; De Wit & Meyer 2010). In the context of care home industry, the market may be considered to be both market-driven and resource-driven because of its underlying characteristics.
Care homes appear to be market-oriented – a business culture that is mainly focused on meeting the customer (resident or c are recipient) needs, providing outstanding customer value, and satisfying customers. In the course of running business, care homes adopt IT systems as a major step towards improving their service delivery efficiencies, effectiveness, and quality as part of competing successfully. For example, in a study conducted to investigate the major technology trends across the aged-care market, Wood (2015) discovered the following key findings:
- The cost of aged care will continue to rise with increasing population of the aged persons in comparison to the younger population.
- Not every senior will be in a position to afford private care and medical insurance.
- People yearn for retaining their independence and enhanced social life by receiving specialised care within their residential homes.
- Governments are working on ways through which they can limit the reliance of the ageing population on care home and hospital facilities.
The abovementioned findings are trends that care homes can consider to gain sound understanding of the market’s demands, regulations, and customer s for better market-orientation and customer value creation. Adamides (2015) describes customer focus as a market-driven requirement that seeks to understand the needs and responses of customers in relation to the delivered product (in this case care services). Medication management is largely a market-driven strategy in that technological systems designed to facilitate medicine prescription, order fulfilment, checking, reconciliation, dispensation, and record management contribute to improved patient (client) health. This is achieved through a number of ways: minimised medication errors, reduced adverse incidents, and improved visibility and accuracy in relation to medication information (Maczka, Parry & Curry 2016). The technological approach to addressing leisure and wellness management issuesis largely customer-focused as it seeks to support healthy and safe client independence, social integration and community engagement, and remote monitoring of patients’ sleep, and nutrition, and hydration statuses. These are resident (customer) needs that should be met in the delivery of leisure and wellness services in care homes. As such, introduction of technological solutions to resolve potential issues in leisure and wellness management is a market-driven strategy. Giving the right information to clients and authorized family members through timely and clear explanations and instructions would be critical to improving the efficiencies of medication and tracking appropriate developments in the health of residents (Paquet 2016); another market-driven strategy since it is mainly intended to deliver outstanding resident value. Coming up with cost controls to overcome the financial pressures caused by the decline in government-based reimbursements to care organizations is an obvious market-orientation strategy. These issues evidently show that care homes are largely oriented to the social care market and residents (its customers) to gain distinctive organizational capabilities that may see improved customer value-creation, superior business performance, and competitiveness.
With the perspective of the strategy being a resource-driven one, the enabler of sustainable competitiveness could be the capability of a care home to take advantage of valuable, unique, and rare IT systems and skills at its disposal to meet the value requirements of customers by delivering superior care services. Therefore, in the context of this research, care home organizations ought to seek ways through which they can coordinate and completely exploit the potential of their technological resources at their disposal to bolster their overall performance and competitiveness. How can technology help achieve competitive advantage in a care home? To start with, systems such as automatic meeting scheduling tools may help management and staffs hold timely discussion meetings in response to emerging incidents and complaints for continuous service quality improvements. Secondly, GPS alarms and fall detectors may create opportunities for providing autonomous care. Thirdly, staff may be considered excellent by care management empowering them using Electronic health records and document management systems (EHRDMS), lone-worker security tools, and communication, collaboration, and knowledge transfer technologies (Maczka, Parry & Curry 2016). Collaboration and knowledge transfer systems are especially useful in the care homes because they can help improve information and knowledge management efforts in a sector plagued by challenged staff retention and turnover problems. EHRDMS is an extremely important solution to helping care specialists drawn from multiple disciplines communicate and collaborate with each other in real-time in complex care settings (Paquet, M 2016). Fourthly, there are systems to provide guidance on the management of medicine across order placement and supply, storage, preparation, and dispensation, administration, recording, and disposal (Parahoo 2014). In addition, there is an opportunity for systems to improve the protection of staff, clients, and visitors. Leisure and wellness requirements in care homes may be achieved through technological solutions that support healthy and safe client independence, social integration and community engagement, and remote monitoring of patients’ sleep, and nutrition, and hydration statuses (Lopez & Dupuis 2014). A good quality management system would help senior management gain a complete view of service quality across a care home’s operations and processes (Lane 2013). Nevertheless, it is only a unique set of technological competence and knowledge, alongside relevant implementations that care homes can overcome the current and future challenges and pressures in areas such as operational efficiency, internal and external relationships, change execution, quality assurance, and cost and/or service differentiation (Jasper & Crossan, 2012).
Nevertheless, there are paradoxes between markets and organizational resources that may challenge companies strategically as argued by Swayne, Duncan and Ginter (2012). Does purchasing the required resources guarantee a company of diversifying into every market it chooses to venture into? For example, when the privately owned care homes can purchase almost any IT resource while public-funded and community homes cannot, there arises the question of whether resource-related constraints can truly hinder business success. De Wit and Meyer (2010) opines that tangible resources (such as machinery and equipment) and newly sourced talent do not necessarily form valuable competencies since other companies may in the long run procure similar resources. On the other hand, the resource-driven strategy mainly focuses on leveraging distinct competencies to achieve competitive advantages, but the competences must be continuously improved for sustainable advantage (Jacobson, 2012). Therefore, business success cannot be achieved through market-driven or resource driven strategies. Instead, what drives success is competence adaptability.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CARE HOME PROBLEMS AREAS WITH STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT’S PROFIT-ORIENTED OR RESPONSIBILITY-ORIENTED PARADOXES
CQC is piling pressure on care homes to pursue improvement approaches – those with adequate resources can improve their rating from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’, granting them the opportunity to attract more clients at a higher price for services due to their perceived quality assurance. An ‘Outstanding’ rating gained through innovative and creative facilities, equipment, IT systems, and services that meet best practices – that go beyond expectations stand to drive enhanced brand reputation and competitive advantage (Lane 2013). Therefore, privately-owned care homes are highly likely to adopt technology as a means of gaining a competitive edge over its commercial and public rivals through provision of value-added care and support services in terms of meeting attractive quality and safety standards in addition to better responsiveness, pricing and profitability, and convenience. In addition, automation of various care industry functions is also expected to deliver cost reduction benefits, which may further drive better competitiveness and profit margins (Victor 2010). The aforementioned connections between care home technologies and the competitive advantage model are largely concerned with creating customer value through care service differentiation – the outcomes of processes that seek to meet a collection of deeply understood customer needs. There are competitive advantages that come with product/service differentiation or lower pricing strategies, or a strategy that combines the two components (Swayne, Duncan & Ginter 2012). However, attempts to gain a competitive edge on the two fronts may lead to challenged overall advantage. For example, if a care home delivers considerably high quality health and care services, then it would be highly challenging to become a low-cost leader without compromising on quality. The following are some of the common paradoxes: how to pursue profit maximization efforts without driving customers off; are the exchange rates for products justified; and which products should be hiked (Rothaermel 2012). A company focusing on profits face the paradox of damaging the profits totally if the customers are not inspired by the moves taken by the management (De Wit & Meyer 2010). Chasing profits at the expense of competitive advantage can be truly undoing. This is the ultimate profit-driven paradox: businesses that make profits without an organizational purpose of creating value for customers and the society (the impetus to strategic management) at large will eventually fail miserably (De Wit & Meyer 2010; Steffens, Davidsson & Fitzsimmons 2009).
On the other hand, public-funded and community homes are largely responsibility-oriented as they provide social care and health services to vulnerable people who are not in a position to afford private care and medical insurance (Wood 2015). These types of care homes play an integral role in the UK’s social care delivery for the elderly since without them it would be almost impossible for the government to provide sufficient care for this aged population. The elderly deserves care homes that assure a sense of dignity, independence, wellbeing and community, which is extremely crucial to them (Laney & Edgehill 2015). Nevertheless, the inclusivity and consideration of long-term concerns that come with responsibility-driven approach requires active learning to survive the dynamic internal and external changes (Moura-Leite, Padgett & Galan 2012; Rendtorff 2009). The care home market should give clients the right choice, diverse and quality care options. Care providers are struggling to commission the appropriate and adequate care and support help people stay out of hospitals, and live healthier and happily with their family members, friends, and their communities at large. Otherwise, the needs may outweigh the sector’s capabilities. On one hand, there are considerable problems related to the government financing cuts to care homes. On the other, care homes face demographic changes that will continue to see unprecedented rise in the number of people with care and support needs. As such, care providers ought to adopt a strategic thinking approach to their existing business models to cater for market changes, especially in financing and growing demand for personalised care and support driven by demographic changes (Ruddick 2015). This will help them be prepared for the looming bursts in care and support needs and dwindling resources. Adequate resources need to be in place and be properly managed to assure care and support for the vulnerable population and protect their dignity.
As care homes start to implement strategies founded on strong IT considerations, they ought to focus on understanding the differentiators as a key element of strategy; how can we become the winners in the market. The care home management should assess the potential implications of gaining cost leadership or achieving sustained product differentiation through conscious choices regarding the technological weapons that need to be assembled and implemented to win customers and profits against their rivals. If the goal is sustainably profitable, competitive, and achievable, then it is worth pursuing (De Wit & Meyer 2010). For example, if a care home ascertains that it is cannot be a low-cost leader currently and in the future, then it ought to be a high-satisfaction and high-quality organisation. Therefore, it is important to choose one clear niche or area to focus on. However, there are opportunities for pursuing the two fronts – cost and product differentiation. For example, a telehealth solution would deliver early detection of health conditions and enhanced recovery, while alleviating costly inpatient services through reduced overall hospital admissions (Docobo 2014). Yet, sustainable competitive advantage requires deploying a distinctive system to defeat competition while retaining a company’s fundamental strengths and continually adapting to the system to market demands and emerging opportunities in the market (De Wit & Meyer 2010).
GAPS AND LIMITATIONS WITHIN THE STRATEGIC ISSUES
There has been rapidly rising demand for personalized home care services such as care for persons with mental, dementia, learning, and other challenges, especially over the past ten years (Ruddick 2015). Financial pressures across the care home sector represent a challenge facing care providers. In fact, care homes risk being put into administration for failure to satisfy their creditors. This may be only the start of even more severe problems in the care home sector if some drastic action is not taken. The impending crisis could dwarf the challenges that have been troubling the steel industry (Ruddick 2015). What would happen if care homes fail to deliver the expected service levels, yet mainstream hospitals cannot be able provide elective care since they may get full with the elderly and persons with learning challenges. Ruddick (2015) indicates that an additional £1 billion costs could be introduced into care homes by 2020 – a huge problem for a sector that is partly funded by the government.
Strategic measures need to be taken by care home management personnel to ensure that vulnerable persons are assured of quality care in the wave of rising care and support demand. As one of the potential strategic measures, NHS England (2014) notes that a case study of successful implementation of a video-based two-way consultation platform in close to 200 care homes and residential homes run by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust achieved a reduction of 40% in the rate of vulnerable persons seeking hospital admissions. Therefore, it is possible to alleviate the demand pressures by decreasing the rate of hospital-bed days. In addition, the telemedicine approach to care delivery was able to decrease unnecessary accident and emergency (A&E) admissions related to adult populations (NHS England 2014). Nevertheless, NHS England (2014) documented the following factors that inhibit telemedicine efforts:
- Information governance risk brought about by public social media communication platforms such as Skype;
- Overdependence on widespread adoption scale to deliver tangible reduction in hospital admissions; and
- Prescription problems: telemedicine consultations are usually carried out remotely by a nurse who requests a general practitioner (who has not seen the patient) to issue prescription.
In a different study carried out between November 2013 and June 2014, Sussex Community Trust (SCT) investigated the use of a low-intensity telehealth solution involving 92 resident patients from local care homes. Diagnosis covered chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetic, UTI, and congestive heart failure (CHF) conditions. Care home matrons were tasked with monitoring, managing, and responding to care recipients’ questions using telehealth software installed on Android tablets. There were tangible positive outcomes in terms of:
- Reduction in overall hospital admissions – 75%;
- Improved service delivery standards;
- Nurse time savings – 40%;
- Positive feedback from care residents as well as from family members and friends;
- Early detection of health conditions; and
- Enhanced recovery (Docobo 2014).
Therefore, an IT start up can develop telemedicine and telehealth software applications targeting the demand-constrained care home market. Such systems will deliver greater value proposition and new business models to consumers (care homes) through a number of ways. For example, telemedicine and telehealth systems may be used to support care home staff and residents in prevention of unnecessary hospital admissions and face-to-face nurse-patient contacts. Remote rehabilitation and autonomous care may help drive improved client autonomy and/or independence. However, care providers are expected to come up with the best strategies to prevent or mitigate security and safety risks facing staff and clients (Victor 2010). Nevertheless, NHS England (2014) documented the following factors that inhibit telemedicine efforts:
- Information governance risk brought about by public social media communication platforms such as Skype;
- Overdependence on widespread adoption scale to deliver tangible reduction in hospital admissions; and
- Prescription problems: telemedicine consultations are usually carried out remotely by a nurse who requests a general practitioner (who has not seen the patient) to issue prescription.
Prevention of avoidable hospital admissions would translate to cost-savings, nurse time-savings, and improved care quality. Nevertheless, what are the cost-benefit implications of IT adoption in care homes? The question is guided by the fact that financial costs represent the major factor that inhibits adoption of technology in care homes (Netten, William & Darton 2014). Cost factors include the costs of acquisition, implementation, staff training, and support and maintenance (Harrington et al. 2012). The SCT study described above showed that telehealth drives cost effectiveness up to approximately £0.9 per patient on daily basis due to avoidance of unnecessary admissions (Docobo 2014). On the other hand, the economic case for the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust telemedicine study showed that a patient in his/her home or in a care home is likely to be admitted to a hospital once per annum compared to approximately 15 times without telemedicine. Moreover, telemedicine tends to reduce the overall hospital-bed stay in the event that admission is inevitable. The telemedicine study also showed that the approach attracts approximately £2400 per patient for a whole year compared to an urgent admission that costs approximately £2500 (NHS England 2014). As such, residential homes and nursing homes stand to enjoy considerably high ROI benefits with successful adoption of technology.
A major challenge concerns the effectiveness of recruitment, training, and retention of certified nursing personnel since high staff turnover in care homes has critical quality consequences for the care and support of clients. Therefore, there is need for human resources management systems to help care providers manage the workforce and organizational knowledge – two of the most critical resources in any organization. These information systems help the track skills, knowledge, experiences, and duties relevant to employees for better human resource planning, knowledge/expertise creation, management, and transfer, and stimulation of innovation (K.Laudon & J.Laudon 2010). Knowledge sharing also promotes cost savings and organizational change (Despres, 2011).
There is need for care providers and local authorities to enter into concrete partnerships that may help them understand the current and future community needs and plan on best ways of delivering social care services (Lane 2013). She argues that real partnerships between the two major players with enormous amounts of valuable information would increase the likelihood of gaining new and more useful insights that may possibly result in better problem-solving and decision-making and enhanced planning. Therefore, an IT start up should come up with an innovative software solution to facilitate improved communications and deepened stakeholder relationships.
While privately-owned care homes are largely profit-oriented, their public-funded and community equivalents can be considered to be responsibility-oriented. This can be attributed to the fact that that the former are operated by business-minded persons and companies, while the latter are run by local authorities and government agencies. The cost of aged care expected to rise continually and many seniors being unable to afford private care and medical insurance (Wood 2015). Therefore, the biggest challenge rests on developing software for resource-constrained public-funded and community care homes. Moreover, even with privately-owned care homes that have numerous resources at their disposal to purchase a technological care solution, an IT start up would face intense competition from established software vendors. Therefore, an IT start up must come up with a competitive pricing that both privately-owned and public-funded and community care homes can afford and derive tangible value addition from consequent software adoption.
This literature review has identified the following major strategic issues within the care home sector: increasingly growing demand for personalized care services, coordination of specialists from different fields, security and safety of staff and clients, financial pressures and high staff turnover, medication management problems, and leisure and wellness challenges. At the same time, the need for quality assurance across the care home sector cannot be ignored since it is a critical enabler of effective and efficient care for the vulnerable persons in our society. IT is a viable tool for enabling care providers to offer high-quality and more-efficient services to their clients. Technology can help overcome the issues facing the care home sector in a number of ways, including:
- Improved communications and deepened stakeholder relationships via email, websites, social media, video conferencing, and electronic care records and documents.
- Improved potential to track resident information.
- Remote rehabilitation and autonomous care – improved autonomy and/or independence within care recipients’’ own residential homes.
- Self-reporting of residents’ health.
- Reduced overall hospital admissions, thus alleviating constraints such as limited number of beds and costly inpatient services.
- Nurse time savings.
- Error-free medication prescription, dispensation, administration, and monitoring or supervision.
- Improved customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced resource utilisation efficiencies through workflow and staff management to optimise scheduling without compromising care service quality.
- Support for healthy and safe client independence, social integration and community engagement, and remote monitoring of patients’ sleep, and nutrition, and hydration statuses.
- Continuous service quality improvement.
Use of appropriate software solutions can help a care home gain a competitive edge over its rivals through provision of value-added care and support services in terms of attractive quality and safety standards, responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness, pricing, and convenience. In addition, automation of various care home functions is also expected to deliver cost reduction benefits, which may further drive competitiveness.
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