Lack of integration in aged care clinical software

4 minute read

New national report highlights the challenges and barriers for aged care providers.

Cost, employee culture, time, resources and fear of technology are among the main barriers to clinical care software adoption in residential aged care facilities, a new report has found.

While 94% of the 233 aged care providers involved in the development of the report said they used clinical software, only 77% believed they used it “extensively”. And a whopping 287 unique clinical care systems were identified as being used by the sector.

More than half of aged care providers that implemented clinical software (60%) did not have integration between their medical, clinical and enterprise resource planning systems.

The national report from the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council and the Australian Digital Health Agency has highlighted the challenges and barriers for aged care providers when adopting clinical care software in their practice.

The Residential Aged Care Facilities Use of Clinical Care Software report also detailed the opportunities and potential for enhanced uptake of clinical care software for residential care providers in respect to improving data collection, enhanced care planning, and providing a better quality of care for older Australians.

“This is a critical time for the aged and community care sector in light of the Commonwealth Government aged care reform agenda driven by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety,” the authors wrote.

“[The council] highlights the ‘Universal adoption by the aged care sector of digital technology and My Health Record’ [recommendation 68] which recommends every approved provider of aged care delivering personal care or clinical care to enhance their uptake of clinical software as well as develop comprehensive policies and procedures relating to the collection and safety of this data.

“This report underscores the urgency for aged care providers to embrace clinical software and develop comprehensive data-related policies and procedures.”

Those most commonly using and inputting data into the software were: registered nurses (96%), management personnel (86%), administration personnel (80%), personal care workers (79%), enrolled nurse (79%), visiting allied health (77%) and visiting GPs (77%).

Barriers to adoption were the cost of product, training, upgrading, employee resistance, time and resources required for training and implementation, and fear of technology and digital literacy.

The absence of consistent terminology across the sector was another challenge for data collection and analysis.

Key findings of the report included:

  • Diversity of Technology Infrastructure: There was a wide variation in the number of devices used in residential aged care facilities, with the majority using desktop computers, smart tablets, laptops and smartphones. Wi-Fi connectivity was widespread. Multiple clinical software systems were in use, and a high number of clinical care systems were identified.
  • External Use of Clinical Software: Visiting clinicians had higher access to input, extract and review data on-site than remotely. Many external agencies, such as auditing personnel, accessed data electronically. Clinical software integration with visiting clinicians’ software and community pharmacy software varied widely.
  • Integration with My Health Record: Most organisations reported limited integration with My Health Record, and most of them did not record data in residents’ My Health Records. There was a need for improved integration.
  • Future Strategies for Innovation and Technology: Organisations had varying technology investment strategies, with some lacking a specific focus on clinical software. Standardising terminology and enhancing data integration emerged as crucial factors for future innovation and technology strategies.
  • Duration of Clinical Software Deployment: A significant percentage of clinical software systems have been in deployment for five to 10 years, indicating a need for updates and improvements.
  • Data Duplication: There was a notable amount of duplication of core clinical information in multiple clinical systems, highlighting the importance of data integration.
  • Training: A significant portion of organisations reported training all their employees in the use of clinical software, indicating a commitment to skill development.
  • A significant number of Clinical Software in Deployment: The report found that there were 287 unique clinical software vendors identified in residential aged care.

The report’s comprehensive findings and recommendations were the result an environmental scan, a national survey, expert focus groups and a survey of general practitioners.

Its findings highlighted the importance of standardised terminology, the need for data integration, and the potential for enhanced care through clinical care software in residential aged care, the authors said.

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