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i.on the prize at ITAC awards

Compliance software product plays role in success for multiple winners. By Dallas Bastian

A governance, risk and compliance software company and one team that implemented its product were both big winners at the Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) 2014 Aged Care IT awards.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) took out the Best Implementation of the Year Award for facilities with total income under $5 million owned by one organisation, for introducing i.on my as its system for managing incidents, feedback, risk, documents, meeting minutes and HR credentials. The aim of i.on my was to ensure that compliance was easily met across 12 different aged and community services funding agreements.

Jana Hall, manager of operations and corporate support at NRSDC, puts the win down to finding a product that suited the council’s needs. “We need to comply with approximately 25 different funding agreements, multiple state and federal government funders and three sets of quality standards, so the right software was critical,” Hall says. “Also, [credit] the support of the corporate services team at NRSDC who constantly drive the change in work practice through the rest of the organisation.”

The team documented what they could do beforehand and what could be achieved after implementation to measure the effectiveness of the project and clearly see results. “This has been particularly helpful when managing the change – being able to show staff the benefits helps get their buy-in,” Hall says. “The project relies on staff usage in every aspect.”

i.on my software has multiple components, Hall says, so “It was essential to clearly outline what we wanted to achieve with the software implementation.”

She says another key to success was breaking down the implementation into priority areas and focusing on them.

“It is easy to go off on tangents as you find further functionality, so sticking to the implementation plan and phases is critical,” she explains.

NRSDC plans to use other areas of the software moving forwards. “We are particularly interested in the project management side of this and the management of our multiple funding agreements,” Hall says.

The developers of i.on my, ThoughtWare, were also recognised at the ceremony, taking out the ICT Company of the Year Award, which is open to organisations that have designed and implemented innovative products that enhance the aged and community care ICT marketplace in Australia.

ThoughtWare chief executive Sonja Bernhardt says she was delighted the company won the award. “In past years and again this year, our clients have taken out a variety of implementation awards for using various aspects of our system and we have celebrated along with them,” she says. “However, to have taken out the top company award for ourselves is a goal we’ve been aspiring to for five years.”

ThoughtWare’s main focus is to continuously keep a look out for advancements. “Not only industry requirements but also available technologies are constantly evolving, and we insist on keeping up with both,” Bernhardt says. “For example, we already operate on remote devices, actively use web services for maximum efficiency and data integrity across applications, and have introduced 3D visualisation of reporting.

“Our software has been designed to be robust and extremely customisable, so from a market perspective we already service numerous related industries, including retirement living, hospitals, residential care, community care, multicultural and indigenous care, disability care, family care and enterprises that service youth care and childcare,” Bernhardt says.

She says ThoughtWare’s success comes down to resilience and creativity. “We keep powering on despite economic and market setbacks, and we continuously apply creativity to what we do,” she explains. “We’ve always been a little different and innovative. We came into the market in 2008 when there was a flood of clinical solutions, and at that time we bravely stood out and offered governance, risk, and compliance before those fields were considered a priority.

“This means that now when organisations are looking at governance and risk we have a proven, robust system that maps to the aged-care industry business processes.”

ThoughtWare also works with clients to tap into their operational knowledge and find areas for improvement of its product. “If a new or old client suggests an addition or improvement to make their lives easier, we listen and adapt,” Bernhardt says.

The company’s current development priorities are adding more flexible business process workflow capabilities, voice activation, and a remote-entry HR app.

The Best Implementation of the Year Award for facilities with total income from $5 million to $30 million owned by one organisation went to Moyne Health Service.

Moyne Health replaced its nurse call with a new system and integrated Vocera into the project – technology that enables the staff to communicate directly with residents and one another. The team also merged telephony, email and the duress system into one Vocera device.

“Previously care staff would have to carry a duress pendant, a pager and a cordless phone; we’ve basically consolidated all those into one unique device,” Leigh Parker, executive director of corporate support services at Moyne Health, says. “The patient presses their call button, it registers on the nurse’s Vocera device and then they can call back to the resident and have a hands-free conversation. We sort of closed that communication loop between resident and nurse.”

Parker says the previous system was haphazard: “We had a few staff with a couple of cordless phones and others with only pagers, so trying to find people and communicating with them was difficult.”

He says typically the nurse would have to walk to the resident to find out what they needed, whereas staff across the entire 97-bed facility can now answer the nurse call from anywhere and talk to the resident directly.

“In some instances, it halved the distance a nurse has had to travel,” he says. “The implementation has truly revolutionised our communications on our site. We’re a large site – we take over a whole block – and being able to communicate and find other team members to assist with a particular task, or communicate messages across a facility in terms of events that are going on, has been revolutionised.”

Parker says other providers should identify their communication needs and think about the different ways to meet them. “It’s about moving away from a traditional model of one-way communication between resident and care staff, and looking to explore opportunities where, through integration, you can close that communication loop,” he says.

The Best Implementation of the Year Award for facilities with total income over $30 million owned by one organisation went to Silver Chain.

The company partnered with Polycom and Telstra to implement telehealth video solutions for patient care. This has allowed diagnostics, specialist access, medication adherence monitoring and team training to occur remotely. Clients are able to securely speak with Silver Chain’s clinicians on mobile devices.

Chief information officer for Silver Chain, Lee Davis, says one of the key factors for success was the impact they’d had on clients. “Being able to offer them the face-to-face video consult with our clinicians was something that we think is pretty new in the sector.”

Davis says other providers should look at options that have great value for them. “A lot of us in this sector are not-for-profits, so getting good value is imperative,” he explains.

ITAC highlighted the work of three organisations in the Best Implementation of the Year Award for Infrastructure hardware and/or software that enables the implementation of business applications.

Regis Aged Care took out the award for the category; a high commendation went to Wesley Mission Brisbane; and a high commendation – clinical went to Southern Cross Care NSW & ACT and Webstercare.

Finally, Dr George Margelis, adjunct associate professor at the University of Western Sydney’s TeleHealth Research & Innovation Laboratory, was inducted into ITAC’s Hall of Fame, which recognises outstanding contribution to ICT learning and adoption in the aged-care industry.


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