The Five Steps to Digital Transformation

Article written with Care England Supporter Deputy

In a month which saw Secretary of State Sajid Javid highlight three key areas for social care in his speech to the Care England Conference, I want to reflect on one of the three areas he mentioned – Technology.

A major part of technology innovation in care is digital transformation. Following the recent publication of a digital transformation guide by Deputy, let's look at what is potentially blocking digital transformation, how to overcome the blockages and how to set the base for successful transformation.

The Fear … and its about people, not tech
The first thing to be conscious of is what is holding you back – is it the fear that digital transformation can be expensive, time-consuming, and not deliver value? A major step forward is that digital transformation might not need as much investment in hardware as you think because today's cloud-based technology reduces the cost and makes advanced digital tech readily available and accessible. This increases the potential to free your care teams and management to focus on how ready-made tools can help people work better – so transformation becomes about people, not tech.

Deputy's Guide is differentiated because it understands the issues in care. It is focused clearly on guiding residential care managers, owners and operations teams to conquer the fear and realise the benefits. It provides a framework and practical advice on preparing for and running a digital transformation programme.

The Pressures to digitise
We at Care England realise that you are facing pressure to digitise, and we are here for you to refer to and bounce ideas off. There are pressures and incentives to digitise from many angles. For example, the CQC's inspection regime is moving towards more remote data monitoring, so you will need to have your data digitised and readily accessible.

The Covid pandemic has forced us to embrace technology, whether online communication tools or tracking carers to report for contact tracing. There is much enthusiasm from investors in the sector to both encourage and accelerate digitisation. The last and perhaps most significant source of pressure comes from the need to maintain standards and quality care while working more efficiently. This is where investment in tech can pay dividends.

Success Factors
Digital Transformation projects have less chance of success when they focus on the technology rather than the outcome. Today's cloud-based solutions can simplify life for us in that there is no longer any need to code, design or build anything from scratch. Much of what you need for digital transformation is available in the cloud, ready to implement and customise.

So the best way to think about digital transformation is to forget the word "digital" and see it as a people transformation. Ultimately, what you're doing is changing the way people work for the better, adopting and adapting ready-made tools. You are doing it to maintain your residents' quality of life and enhance your employees' experience; technology is just the "how". The project should be built around people, their needs and the desired outcomes.

The aspiration proposed by Deputy is:
Transformation is also about reinvention, not replacement. It's not a question of taking something paper-based and putting it online because that may not solve the problem. It's about deciding what needs to change and then using all the capabilities of digital tools to make things work better, so you get true benefit from digitisation.

Most importantly, when talking to suppliers, make sure you focus on what you want, not just on what they are offering. The power is in your hands to adopt and adapt to suit your needs and desired outcomes.

The five steps for people-centred digital transformation
This guide sets out five steps that have been proven to work in healthcare settings. The approach is clear, easy to follow and ensures that you base the transformation around your people.

The five steps are:

1. Business Case & Buy-In
2. Procurement
3. Implementation
4. Go Live
5. Success and advocacy

In talking to Deputy, I appreciated their view that innovative technology can refresh and rejuvenate care with a people-focused approach to digital transformation. By focusing on the outcomes you want and the people you work with and for, you can avoid the pitfalls associated with IT projects and make the most of powerful new cloud-based software solutions.

Although it does not explicitly mention it, the whole of the guide reflects the need for culture change to realise the benefits of digital transformation. It realises implicitly that this culture of change and willingness to innovate is at the heart of digital transformation.

To access the guide, please go to 

https://ter.li/3g2de8

Daniel Casson is Care England's Digital Development Adviser