Name: Fiona CaldwellTitle: Chief information officerCompany: Estia HealthCommenced role: 2018Reporting line: CEOMember of the executive team: YesTechnology Function: 35 staff, 5 direct reports
When Fiona Caldwell joined Estia Health as chief information officer in 2018, she inherited an immature IT capability.
“The IT team consisted of an outsourced IT service desk, and an internal team of five people who were focused on run activities,” Caldwell tells CIO Australia.
“There were no projects or initiatives delivered, no project capability, no data capability, no cyber capability, and significant IT risk.”
However, in five years, Caldwell successfully delivered on multi-million-dollar IT transformation strategies initially focused on risk, and now on digital enablement & optimisation; greatly increasing the overall capability of the aged care provider’s technology team on the journey.
The results from this work are demonstrated in two recent impactful projects.
Clunky business processes
The first was to address the organisation’s processes for the range of compliance checks it carries out when recruiting new people – with these checks repeated at various stages during the employment lifecycle.
The processes were clunky – with documents requested multiple times in different parts of
the process leading to a poor candidate experience, says Caldwell.
“The process had a significant administrative burden with sighting, validating and storing documents,” she says.
These challenges resulted in it taking longer to fill vacancies, which increased recruitment agency costs and dropout rate during in the recruitment process.
“Our People & Culture team was looking to re-invent this process but was finding that solutions on the market didn’t provide the right level of innovation,” says Caldwell.
But when an existing technology provider shared some of the ideas in its product pipeline, a potential option presented itself.
“At the time, the product was conceptual; but we entered into an innovation partnership to co-create the product to meet our needs,” says Caldwell.
The solution deployed allows a smartphone to be used to photograph and attach documents, with candidates only needing to provide documents once and these documents are carried through to later stages where the same evidence is needed.
“While this will be a progressive development and rollout, the first stage has been deployed to manage our previously onerous annual vaccination evidence process, taking compliance information from vaccination clinics and directly from employees,” says Caldwell.
“While it is still relatively early days, the technology will continue to improve and streamline this complex process.”
Meanwhile, Estia Health wanted to improve the system it was using through which residents contacted carers for assistance so it could respond faster to emergencies, such as when a resident had a fall.
“In aged care, medical needs are quite complex, and a resident may not be able to press a call button for assistance,” says Caldwell.
So, nurses need to sight a resident at regular intervals, while pressure mats on beds,
floors or chairs detect and alert when a fragile resident who may be at risk of a fall gets up.
Radar monitoring technology
Although Caldwell had a vision for how this system could be improved to provide more immediate assistance, the technologies required didn’t exist at the time or were not viable.
“In early 2020, I created a blueprint which re-imagined a digitally enabled residential aged care home,” she says.
“Since then, I have been exploring options to turn this vision into a reality. Technologies that I looked at initially to solve this problem were not viable.”
For instance, CCTV cameras would infringe on the privacy of residents in their personal space, while other options were not commercially viable across over 6,000 beds.
But in discussing what it wanted to achieve with its technology partner, an innovate solution emerged – employing radar technology to monitor residents while protecting their privacy.
“We selected this vendor in 2018 to provide upgrades to our Nurse Call system as they had a strong product and Australian based R&D capability with evidence of investing for innovation,” says Caldwell.
The system is currently being piloted in one of Estia Health’s care homes and early feedback is positive, says Caldwell.
Upon joining Estia Health, Caldwell developed an IT strategy focused on building the foundations.
“Risk and compliance were a large part of this strategy, building internal cyber capability and a program of work to close gaps so that we would qualify for cyber insurance; reducing the significant amount of time it would take to recover in the event of a disaster.”
Initially a three-year program, it was delivered in two and included an upgrade of key infrastructure in Estia Health’s aged care homes, a review of key business applications and started streamlining key business processes.
The current strategy is focused on digital enablement & optimisation.
“The aged care industry is undergoing a significant period of change. Off the back of multiple years of Covid and the Royal Commission; we are now responding to an industry going through significant reform and consolidation. Data, integration, and automation are key focus areas.”
“To deliver this, the technology function at Estia Health is fully integrated into the business, acting as a trusted partner, with a strong understanding of what the business does, how we do it, and why.”
Louis van Wyk