The answer may be closer than you think. It doesn’t involve cutting activities or services so much as streamlining, integrating and synthesising data that is already available to you; often, quite literally, at your fingertips. You may have already commenced the process as part of your digital transformation.
Initiatives such as consolidated billing, identifying new and improved data measurement processes and using your existing data in smarter ways can empower both management and staff to do more with less. There is so much hidden or under-utilised information in every Aged Care business that remains untapped. Here we outline a few ways you can review and improve data management to achieve financial benefits.
Plan better with a clear view of your occupancy rates
Do you have a system somewhere that records occupancy rates of all your rooms or beds? If so, you have valuable data on hand already. This could be a simple as a manual spreadsheet or through a more sophisticated piece of bespoke software. In many cases this information is held by one or two facilities management personnel and they have their finger on the pulse.
How are you using this information? Most likely, you are under-utilising it or potentially not using it at all. Can you pull instant reports to give you a real-time view of occupancy across your facilities? How do you know if you are under or overstaffed relative to your average occupancy
We have found that occupancy is rarely captured accurately or in real-time. Can you define with any clarity what even constitutes an unoccupied bed? Does it mean you are operating under capacity? Is it a problem with marketing and/or attracting new customers? Or is it down to mundane but essential reasons such as maintenance or refurbishing?
The answers to these questions are key to better, more informed, planning and decision making.
Optimise your per room revenue and operating costs
The Internet of Things is changing how we interact with objects and what information we can gather. For example, low-cost wireless sensor tags can measure and capture motion, temperature and humidity data in each room. With a sophisticated data management system, you can use this data for a wealth of other insights. Mapping occupancy rates against room temperature and setting up a simple alert, for example, might indicate how much money you are spending on heating unoccupied rooms. It would also instantly empower you to eliminate that cost. Some estimates in the hospital sector suggest anywhere between 15% and 40% could be saved on energy costs.
From a customer service perspective, it also means you can provide extra care by setting up temperature threshold alerts. If a client’s room moves outside a set range this alerts the nearest staff member so they can go in and check.
This level of additional care – and temperature threshold alerts are just an example – can be reflected in what clients pay. Aged Care providers works with clients to work out the level of subsidy they are entitled to. You can map occupancy against type of room and against level of subsidy. You can then offer extra services to those clients who may be interested in paying for an enhanced experience or a ‘premium’ room. This unlocks potential new revenue streams simply by having captured data and used it to organise room allocation more efficiently.
Focus on quality-based care rather than task-based care
Aged Care residents are individuals, yet the scale of operations means they can sometimes be treated in a generic fashion. For many facilities, there simply haven’t been the human resources to tailor services to every person’s needs.
However, as with the example above, the Internet of Things means that data on clients’ daily habits can be captured efficiently and without extra staffing hours. Knowing what time a client gets up, what time they eat, how often they like (or need) to be checked on means you can tailor care packages at no extra, and often even a lower, cost.
Can you better streamline all the disparate data you have on clients? For example, some clients have regular health checks such as heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar. This data is already being captured and observed. Why not integrate all data into a single view of the client? This way you can cross reference it with other relevant data to improve quality of care and simultaneously reduce costs.
The key is putting your data in a usable form and then using it wisely
If crucial information is in the heads of just one or two managers, then it needs to come out so it can be leveraged by the rest of the organisation. This may mean a few hours of data entry and a further time investment in setting up systems, but it will support cost savings in the long run.
Data informs and enables us to make better decisions. You probably already have systems in place. But you need to ensure you are capturing, monitoring and using data from these systems. Failure to do so represents a huge opportunity cost that operators can ill afford in the current Aged Care climate.
What data are you already capturing? What would you like to capture that is currently slipping through the gaps? We’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you’d like to discuss the data monitoring needs of your business further please contact us to see how we can help.