Cloud shift pays off for aged care provider

The $1 billion aged care industry in Australia is undergoing a major shift. A new customer directed care (CDC) model being introduced in February 2017 means that service providers no longer receive an annual ‘block of funds’ from the government to spread among all clients. Rather they will move to ‘individualised budgets’, giving older Australians more control of the services they receive.

National in-home care provider, Kincare, is one organisation that will be operating in this new consumer-driven market.

“If you have a big footprint like ours it’s a challenge because you are so used to operating in the government model, it’s quite a shift,” says Jerome Barrientos, chief information officer at Kincare.

In 2012, Kincare – a $150 million organisation with 200 staff and 10,000 clients across Australia – recognised that having the right technology infrastructure would be integral to its success in making this shift.

The company had been running internally-developed Lotus Notes software, which was essentially used as an ERP system by payroll and finance groups to process client and staff information.

Kincare needed a cloud-based platform that was scalable and could be customised to help it better deal with these forthcoming regulatory changes, while ensuring it would continue to achieve year-on-year growth of 25 per cent.

“We took the view as an organisation that if we were going to grow not only in Australia but overseas, we needed a platform that was robust … and open in a way that we would not be hamstrung by a series of specialised developers or vendors.

“And more importantly, we needed a platform that would allow us to pre-empt some of the things that are happening out in the industry and build functionality to be able to support our business model,” says Barrientos.

Kincare first job was to move its employee information from disparate Lotus Notes databases to a single Salesforce instance for managing staff, he says. Secondly, the organisation migrated its website to Stantive’s Orchestra content management system, which is built on the Salesforce AppCloud.

“The main reason behind that was that we wanted a place where when staff authenticated in our website ... we knew who they were, and the website has some context so we could serve the relevant information that people needed,” he says.

“We also modelled the clients into the system, understanding some of the concepts we did know at the time such as how the industry would work come 2017. So by talking to government and industry, we had some queues and insights into how things could work and designed our business process and models with that in mind.

“Today our entire process from managing employee and client information to our core scheduling system is all being run within the Salesforce platform,” he says.

By February 2017 – coinciding with the introduction of the CDC model – Kincare will complete the final piece in its strategy to run a ‘wall to wall’ single platform and deploy FinancialForce finance software.

Getting products to market faster

Being on a single cloud platform will enable Kincare to create bundled products for customers and take them to market a lot faster, says Barrientos.

“For instance, in summer, [a client] may need a mowing service, they might be more mobile so we might have a summer bundle that suits their needs and those bundles can be done by area, region, or state or across the board,” he says.

“In the past, we have not been able to do that.”

Barrientos added that once Kincare’s website is completely integrated with the financial system, clients will be able to manage their services and bills online.

Meanwhile, Salesforce Marketing Cloud is being used track how clients interact with the organisation, allowing it to offer digital content to particular groups of people. Salesforce's Social product is used to manage social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pintrest – to identify and react to promotions being run by competitors.

Barrientos says the aged care industry is getting more competitive with new players entering, including some that do not operate in the market at the moment.

“The key for us is to provide a service that is price-competitive and scalable while offering a service that is consistent,” he says.

“A lot of players in this industry have chosen a route to select an off-the-shelf product as opposed to an [integrated] platform. The challenge with that approach is you are in the same boat as everyone else … and they are always hamstrung by the systems that they have got.”

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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