ICT “non-negotiable” in future aged care regulation: Department of Health webinar

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Wednesday’s webinar on Information and Communication Technology was equally interesting for providers.

With nearly 1,000 participants, the Department of Health representatives again made it clear that the use of ICT systems was in the words of Deputy Secretary Michael Lye, (pictured above) “non-negotiable”.

While a “significant” number of providers have reported to Government manually in the past, digital reporting will be an “enabler” to achieving the transformation of aged care, they said.

“Good, stable systems” are needed to ensure providers can more easily interchange information with the Government – and the Department can in turn analyse that data and use it to shape policy and inform the public, summarized Daniel Keys, First Assistant Secretary for the Information Technology Division.

Concerns about timeframes and investment

There were serious concerns about timeframes for implementation – and the required investment and time needed to put in place systems.

Mr Lye – while sympathetic – was unbending, noting the criticism in the Royal Commission of the systems – including the Department – of making information available to consumers.

“The Government is very anxious to make sure as soon as we possibly can that the system is working and we can get that feedback… and we’re doing a good job.”

“We have to acknowledge there’s a pathway here … and a good reason to be energised to do that.”

The Deputy Secretary also underlined that providers should want to collect data to ensure quality care of their residents, citing the recent mandate for providers to collect data on staff vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It goes to culture,” he said. “Providers should be interested in collecting that data for their own reasons, not because the Government wants it.”

Data: collect once, use many times

Other issues raised included:

  • The need for face-to-face and other options for consumers to navigate the system other than digital
  • The limited availability of information about the quality of services and need for star ratings
  • The need for better interoperability between the various Government departments so data is collected once and used many times
  • The need for clear data standards and guidelines on how systems will interoperate
  • Increasing automation to improve efficiency
  • Improving the interface with My Health Record
  • The need for improved cybersecurity and training for staff in how to use systems
  • Ensuing equity of IT access in regional, rural and remote areas

The Department did pledge to engage with providers more broadly around uptake of software and our ICT solutions with vendor workshops in the coming months.

Watch this space then.