Tim Pitts, Senior Partner for local and regional government at Agilisys discusses why now, more than ever, local government needs to focus on pre-emptive digitalisation of care services.

If the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated one thing, it’s that local government can transform at pace. Organisational change blockers have been blown out of the water and previous objections no longer hold sway, creating the ideal time to build on the momentum and continue to drive digitalisation.

What is equally clear is that the demand placed on the public sector is only going to increase, and many of the existing modes of delivery which were already unsustainable, have just been exacerbated by Covid-19.

Take for example domiciliary care, all models have predicted that demand will multiply a number of times over, outstripping affordability many times over.

The good news is that there are whole suites of possibilities and new approaches that address the current situation, but I’m a big believer that the next evolution in particular involves rethinking services, so they are fully insight driven.

Staying with the domiciliary care example, by bringing data sets and different technology together to assess live provider data, basic performance monitoring, improved routing, more effective contract letting etc. can take place, not to mention the ability to pay providers quickly which provides cash flow resilience to the sector.

However, that use of insight is just scratching the surface – by taking visit data and combining it with other data points, mapped against outcomes, it is possible to optimise the provision of care to maximise time living at home. We can then use the data to understand which home visits are purely check-ups, which could potentially be done by a digital device and/or digital concierge type services which are now commonplace. Estimates suggest between 20 and 50 percent of visits could be replaced by digital concierge services, which maintain the human contact but are far, far more efficient. These devices can then be extended to address the major issues of loneliness and isolation, one of the major accelerants into residential care, by connecting to others.

A major reason for digitalising care provision is that it can be joined up with health. Through the Covid-19 lockdown, 93% of all GP appointments were carried out virtually, according to RCGP. There’s no reason why social care and health couldn’t join up for the funding and provision of digital care in the domiciliary care setting, and conduct many of these appointments digitally. This could then be extended to understand when and how often people are seeing their GP to build insight that will better predict residential care demand. Taking this a step further using shielding solutions such as Helping Hands, you could create a single repository of data on vulnerable to speed up discharges, improve care pathways and reduce re-admittance rates when used in conjunction with the earlier examples…the opportunities go on and on.

By understanding how technology can be successfully used, better outcomes and more efficient care delivery will be achieved. Crucially, it will free up resource that so that human contact can be enhanced. That’s surely reason enough to adopt next generation insight-driven care.