People Are the Key to Successful Digital Transformation
There’s a tendency to think that technology is the biggest challenge when it comes to digital transformation of social care. This transformation would need a system to bind together commissioners, providers, service users, carers and stakeholders through a digitally integrated platform.
Here’s the thing: technology isn’t the problem.
The technology exists and we’ve built the platform. The issue is how this technology is implemented to deliver greater productivity, better outcomes and cost savings; and to do this without losing the soul of compassionate and caring social care delivery, while maintaining the commitment of care staff.
Human challenges exist at every level. For example, implementing the CareForIT eBrokerage solution should be great news for commissioners. It opens up new levels of efficiency, productivity and performance transparency. But there will be people who see jobs under threat and the challenge of mastering new ways of working and new demands.
It’s ironic that old, inefficient ways of working that people complain about, often become much less of an issue when it looks like they’re about to be replaced.
Show me why it’s better
You can’t just assume that anyone will see progress as a good thing. You don’t just have to sell people the benefits, you have to show them the benefits. You have to engage them in configuring the solution so they have a personal stake in its success. During and after implementation you need to share data, insights and stories that remind people how and why things really are better than they used to be.
Providers are likely to be resistant to eBrokerage unless there’s a positive process to engage them. What they will see initially is the need to use ‘something new’ to bid for care packages and a requirement for another feed of performance data.
They need to understand how eBrokerage will save time. They need to be given good reasons to trust that their commercial confidentiality isn’t under threat. And if you can use the data feed to present them with more usable reports on their own performance, so much the better.
Sensitive implementation saves time
The implementation process needs to be sensitive to all of these issues and must plan how they will be addressed. Providers need to be enthusiastic evangelists rather than grudging acceptors of the new technology. Things then proceed much faster and more smoothly.
All levels of staff need to fully understand the benefits the technology can bring to every member of the team. If the senior managers aren’t seen to spearhead the process why would anyone else push themselves to implement it?
Care workers and administrators often have the most to gain from digital transformation; less mundane admin and more energy for planning and delivering exceptional care. But don’t take their enthusiasm for granted.
Take the trouble to engage them in the design of online forms and processes, and retain as much of what is familiar as possible. The transition will then be smoother; something they have ownership of rather than something imposed.
Planning, configuration, implementation and post-implementation are critical phases. The human and technology challenges should have equal weight throughout each phase if digital transformation of social care is to deliver the improvements it promises.