Pretty much every week somebody asks us: “Why haven’t you written a rostering system or bought a rostering system to go alongside your digital care planning – after all, you’ve got the engineers, you’ve got the money and it’s what everybody wants ?”
The thing is, it is absolutely not what everybody wants, nor is it what the industry needs.
Think about it. There are just over 9,000 domiciliary care offices in the UK, with all but the very smallest of whom already having a credible and established staff rostering system in place. So, whilst we see some thirty care providers a month coming to us to buy the PASS, they all have a rostering system in situ and they all have something different! Who are we to insist that they go through the pain, risk and cost of shifting roster provider in order to take PASS? It simply doesn’t make sense for anybody.
Consider also the disproportionate scale of merger and acquisition activity in the UK home care space. Every such corporate transaction typically brings with it a legacy of one or more embedded rostering systems. If these are reputable products which are functioning properly, then there is absolutely no desire, nor any necessity to swap them or to standardise upon a common roster product. If your staff are reliably going to the right place at the right time and your billing and payroll runs are reliably accurate, then why change what isn’t broken?
In stark contrast, every large provider seeks to drive the same process, the same accuracy and the same transparency of care planning across their entire estate of offices or subsidiaries. There is a clear imperative for growing providers to deploy the same reliable digital care planning system across every site and to drive identical operational rigour and efficiency from every team.
From the care provider’s perspective, it is therefore far more attractive and certainly more efficient for their chosen digital care planning system to interoperate with their incumbent (chosen or inherited) rostering system, whatever that might be.
Now think of the technology itself. A quality rostering product will contain thousands of lines of code to manage the enormous number of variables and moving parts that impact the matching, scheduling, payroll and billing processes. It is physically impossible to write a good rostering product overnight, as witnessed by new entrants to the market which look rather pretty, but simply cannot accommodate the sheer variety of scenarios that conspire to make a care provider’s life difficult.
We will not be writing a rostering system. The logic, thought-processes and the technologies are very different between the two systems. We will stick to what we believe we are good at.
A high quality digital care planning system is just as complex as a high quality rostering system, and very different kettle of fish indeed. Our focus must be upon safety, transparency and accuracy – with totally different obligations in terms of ownership, information governance and, of course, risk to life. The associated compliance processes and the complexity of building and monitoring qualitative measures of outcome progression (as opposed to simple time and task) mean that you cannot write a high quality digital care planning system overnight. This is why the rostering providers have not done so. Digital care planning will simply never be a small bolt-on module – it’s a whole product and technology in its own right.
So what about us buying a rostering system then? Well, one technology provider has notably attempted this approach but it is hard to make this a success. The reasons appear to us to be simple – you cannot avoid retaining the same technology mismatch in terms of data structures and technical platforms, but you also remove the critical element of choice that the sector demands. This just limits the audience to whom you can sell to your existing customers – who would appear to get the worst of both worlds.
We shall not be buying a roster system either.
Rather, we will do what the market demands, the flexibility to change rostering provider whenever necessary and the same flexibility from a digital care planning solution to accommodate this choice by integrating with a variety of rostering solutions.
The customer deserves the best digital care planning system and the most appropriate rostering solution, i.e. the market wants the best of both worlds. We at everyLIFE will continue to concentrate upon what we do best – digital care planning. At the same time, we will also continue to ensure that the PASS interoperates with as many quality rostering systems as possible.