After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and working as an auditor for a large accounting firm, Jason Howie took on the challenge of running his family’s small home nursing business in 2000. Over the past 11 ½ years the organisation has grown from around 50 employees and 300 clients to 2,000 employees providing services to over 10,000 clients today.
This experience has given Jason an insight into the challenges of running businesses at a range of different sizes, and the value of investing in infrastructure to support future growth.
Jason’s 11 ½ years in the Health and Community Services industry has also provided experience in a challenging people based environment, where customer service is becoming increasingly important.
We spoke with Jason Howie to learn more about his discussion topic “Changing the dynamic of the healthcare system by putting the consumer at the centre” at CeBIT’s eHealth Conference.
He told us that “technology plays a range of roles in the Health and Community Services industry. As a support to business process , it plays a key role in the experience that customers have with your organisation. It provides a platform for managing compliance, both on a day to day basis and as evidence of historic compliance during audits. It also has the capacity to simultaneously improve the care quality of an organisation, while lowering costs, leading to a counter-intuitive result of providing higher quality care at a lower cost”.
After purchasing the Stanhope and Private Care businesses last year, KinCare has spent the past nine months working on integrating two businesses with very different approaches to infrastructure investment.
Jason told us that during the conference he will “address the role of technology in supporting a fast developing organisation, the role of company culture, and the experience of supporting an organisation with an underinvestment in IT infrastructure”.
Expanding on this he said that “during the last 9 months most of KinCare’s attention has been on upgrading infrastructure in the new businesses. This has included replacement of existing systems, staged rollouts of functionality of KinCare’s systems (such as automated rostering and communication portals) across Stanhope, moving software applications onto scalable cloud based systems and a mobility solution trial”.
Each of these has provided interesting lessons and results in relation to culture, planning, change management and investment which he will discuss during his talk at the CeBIT eHealth conference.
He was keen to emphasise that “the key to the success of these projects to date has been a strong commitment from all parts of the organisation to ask what the effect of each change is on our clients and staff. The focus on people based outcomes for each project has significantly increased the engagement of our staff in these projects, and the ultimate success of each stage of the integration”.
Looking to the future Jason told us that “there are many areas which are moving very rapidly in our industry at the present time. The biggest issue is the movement in public policy towards consumer choice in care delivery”.
“As it currently stands, contracts are awarded by Governments at various levels to organisations to deliver a defined volume of care. This provides little choice for consumers, who are faced with the choice of a small number of service providers that may have a vacancy at the time that they are looking for service. Once a client has chosen an organisation, there are barriers to them leaving, as they are forced to join waiting lists for further care”.
He explained that “the movement towards funding the client, and allowing them to choose their organisation will fundamentally change the order of priorities for organisations when building their care delivery systems, where the experience that a client has will become the primary driver of success”.
This in turn has a fundamental impact on the way organisations organise their business processes, their structures and their supporting IT systems.
Jason pointed out other significant issues were the “margin squeeze being experienced through rapidly increasing employment costs against more slowly increasing fees, and the rapid development of technology which allows us to better leverage our people both in relation to our business processes, but also in monitoring and assisting clients within their homes”.
On a brighter note, he explained that “it is becoming increasingly viable to replace many categories of regular visits with monitoring or assistive technologies that weren’t available even 5 years ago, taking pressure of our workforces, and allowing us to continue to achieve more with less”.