‘Go digital or go under’ may sound like a stark ultimatum but the recent liquidation of Thomas Cook proves there is truth in it. With a 22,000-strong workforce and a 178-year heritage, the case of Thomas Cook proves there is no such thing as being so big that your business can’t fail by ignoring the rapid march of digitalisation.
The need for digital transformation isn’t restricted to the travel industry. It’s the way forward across all sectors from retail and manufacturing to education and healthcare, as supported by a recent study which revealed 89% of enterprises have plans to adopt a digital-first strategy.
There are lessons to be learned from the demise of Thomas Cook and the writing is on the wall for businesses that fail to take action in light of their downfall. Digital technology disrupted the travel industry and left Thomas Cook behind. It is now disrupting the care industry. Investing in digital transformation is no longer a choice; it’s the only way to ensure your agency won’t suffer the same fate.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what went wrong with Thomas Cook, what the care industry can learn from this and how digital technology can drive your care agency forward.
Thomas Cook was “an analogue business in a digital world”. These are the words of Tim Jeans, former managing director of Monarch Airlines, who left the airline well before its own liquidation. Like it or loathe it, we live in a digital world and that’s dramatically changed the way potential clients interact with businesses
In the case of Thomas Cook, they held onto their 560 high street travel agents and failed to heed the changes in how people now book their holidays. Rather than move forward with the internet revolution, they watched it go by. Travellers became increasingly happy to create their own holidays by booking online with competitive travel businesses that had unique offerings. Airbnb, Trivago, Expedia, Ryanair and lastminute.com all took slices of the market away from Thomas Cook
The fact is, the internet revolution makes it easy for your clients to find alternatives to the services you offer. Even if you’re an established name, holding onto Local Authority contracts or retaining private clients now requires more than this.
We aren’t the only ones who believe in digitalisation in care, the government is pushing for it too. The NHS 5-year plan puts digitalisation at its heart. Social care services are now enforcing a new requirement on care providers in order to secure care contracts – you must embrace digital technology in the running of your care agency. No digitalisation, no contracts, it’s as simple as that.
Digitalisation will keep you in the game when it comes to winning care contracts but it can do far more to benefit the day to day running of your agency in light of the current state of domiciliary care in the UK.
The rate of staff turnover in adult social care is staggeringly high at 30.7%, resulting in 110,000 nationwide vacancies at any one time. Almost 70% of these vacancies are for carers. Greater turnover means more time and money spent on recruitment and training, while continuity of care suffers. The problem at first appears intractable.
You’re expected to retain your carers at a time when turnover rates are at an all-time high and the funding gap continues to grow. You can’t increase salaries, you don’t get a say on adult social care funding and a looming Brexit is predicted to further exacerbate the situation.
So, what can you do to get your staff to stay and be the very best? The short answer: make their lives easier
Help them deal with the strain on the system, empower them to do more and free up their time to focus on delivering excellent care. This is where digital technology has a major role to play.
Often, the task of digital transformation focuses on the bottom line. However, truly effective digitalisation of your care agency requires shifting focus to the frontline. This is something organisations in other sectors have already recognised. In the manufacturing industry, 71% recognise their workforce as either very or extremely important in realising the digitalisation of their organisation, according to an Industry report.
By transforming your care agency from the ground up and taking a people-centred approach, your bottom line will benefit as the performance of your staff improves and your agency delivers better care more efficiently. This is what will raise your brand and profile above your competitors.
When considering where in your care agency digital technology can make the greatest impact, it’s helpful to consider the outcomes you wish to achieve. Here are 3 major benefits of digitalisation that can help your care agency:
Mobile technology enables your carers access to clear, up-to-date care plans anywhere, anytime. What’s more, it allows them to easily update care plans or add handover notes for subsequent care visits. Features such as photo uploads also improve the accuracy of data for more tailored service provision.
Handwritten notes are not only easily lost or damaged, but they are time-consuming to prepare. Digitalisation speeds up the process of updating care plans and compiling handover notes. Voice-to text capability means carers needn’t even type up their notes. Cloud storage and mobile access means your carers can have instant access to the information they need, enabling them to get straight down to providing care. For visiting home carers, time is also saved in between appointments with mobile apps providing appointment reminders and maps with detailed directions
For office staff, operations that ensure the smooth running of your care agency can be brought together on a single platform, rather than juggling multiple software programmes, spreadsheets or hardcopy files. Rostering, electronic invoices and timesheets to integrate with payroll software, as well as centralised access to staff records, reports and training certificates all save your office staff time.
Mobile apps enable GPS tracking and logging of appointment times, with real-time alerts to office staff of missed or late appointments. Accident and incident reports can be logged at the scene and immediately made available to managers via a single shared digital platform. All of this data provides a clear evidence trail for audits while features such as digital questionnaires for service users and electronic care plans ensure you are always ready to provide evidence to the CQC.
CareSuccess has developed a suite of apps tailor-made for the care industry. Each app facilitates continuity of care and compliance, improves visibility and reduces the time your staff spend on administrative tasks, so they can focus on the human side of care.
The need for adult social care in the UK is growing. Currently, over a third of older people receive formal care and an ageing population means that one in 5 UK residents are now aged over 65, with expectations that this will rise to one in 4 by 2050. Meeting the demands for care will require gains in efficiency and effectiveness that only digitalisation can provide.
The bell has already tolled for care agencies that are stuck in analogue mode. The internet revolution is here, unless you want to suffer the same fate as Thomas Cook. Make it happen for your care agency today