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Care Sector Stability: Does the incidental effect of digital care systems outweigh some of the more obvious benefits?

Two entirely unrelated conversations over the last couple of weeks, (one with some CQC folk, the other with a London borough council) have flagged up the potential impact of digital care planning systems that is rather greater in reach than we’d previously ever considered.

As authors of the PASS, we have spent much time quantifying the clear benefits of digital care planning. But to be fair, we have always done so at the level of a local care economy. We have never particularly considered any effects that might manifest at the national level to impact the care sector as a whole.

As I have written many times before, the value chain is now clear at a local level. Digital care systems bring such material efficiency gains to a care provider that they can shift significant resource from management/administration to care delivery through the planning system. This positively impacts their bottom line, whilst increasing resource and results from the perspective of the person in support and whomever might be funding their care. To give some scale to this, we have SME customers reporting that a circa £5,000 investment in our digital care system directly returns efficiency gains of c. £40,000 annually. This scales-up with the size and number of care providers of course, so the impact is pretty substantial in terms of freeing up full time equivalent care workers within the local care economy.

Add to this the fact that the care worker’s life is made simpler, that outcome-focussed episodes of care are accurately and clearly prompted at all times and that a detailed care plan and audit trail gives appropriate visibility to employer, commissioner, customer, friends/family and any other agencies contributing to that individual’s care pathway and the multiplier effect of digital care systems becomes apparent.

This is all very good of course and, rather conveniently for us, gives a pretty compelling reason for providers and commissioners to champion digital care systems. But the two conversations I mentioned earlier, both separately raised the same and unusually profound questions.

In this financially challenged sector, where one in five domiciliary care providers are reportedly at risk, and with churn a daily reality for commissioner and consumer alike; might the introduction of digital care planning systems now mean that less providers fail, change their business models or cancel their contracts? Might digital care planning systems therefore bring some much-needed stability to our notoriously changeable industry? And, if it just might then how does that change how we prepare for the delivery of care in the home from 2020?

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