Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy

This webinar provides information to aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians and the broader sector on the Aged Care Data and Digital strategy which is scheduled to be launched in December 2023. We are seeking feedback on the draft strategy from mid-October.

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Health sector
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Slides and recording

Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy - slides

This document provides information to aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians and the broader sector on the Aged Care Data and Digital strategy which is scheduled to be launched in December 2023. We are seeking feedback on the draft strategy from mid-October.
59:00

[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy’, ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘www.health.gov.au’]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Josh Maldon:

Thank you all for attending today’s webinar. I’m Josh Maldon and I’m an Assistant Secretary for the Department of Health and Aged Care. I’ll be hosting this webinar to launch a public consultation on the draft Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy.

I want to begin today by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the lands on which we’re virtually meeting today. I’m coming to you from Canberra on the lands of the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and the region. I extend that acknowledgment and respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are with us today.

So firstly I’d like to introduce our panel which includes Mark Booth from Nous and also Fay Flevaras, First Assistant Secretary from the Digital Transformation and Delivery Division. As part of today we will have a Q&A session at the end of the webinar. You’re able to lodge questions in the Slido box on the right hand side of your screen. We’ll attempt to respond to as many questions as possible at the end of the webinar. All questions and answers including ones that we may not get to we’ll make available for the webinar afterwards and make sure we get those to you.

So the purpose of today’s webinar is to discuss the what, the why and hopefully the how of the Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy. So before I hand over to Mark to outline what we’ve heard so far from targeted engagements I want to orientate you with some of the background context. So the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety outlined that we need to shift the aged care system to truly put older people at its centre. And this is the theme that has underpinned all the thinking to date in the draft strategy. So this strategy responds to recommendations 67, 108 and 109.

Aged care reform in response to the Royal Commission is underpinned by a corresponding digital transformation agenda and this agenda aims to ensure the points of connection between older Australians, aged care providers and software industry and governments are simplified, digitised and automated. The intended beneficiaries are first and foremost older Australians and how all of us in our separate roles as system actors collaborate together to truly deliver a person‑centred system for each older person as an individual. This is not about mandating digital channels for older Australians however we do have some key challenges that we are collaborating together to overcome and I want to know from you what you think we can do and how we can use digital solutions to help us break through some of those and how we can harness these to overcome things like the impact on workforce supply and demand issues with digital made work to take pressure off people and free up direct care time. We use those face to face resources where they’re most needed. We have an ageing population and some real sustainability challenges and our population demographics, they’re changing. We’ve got baby boomers starting to enter the system which will continue to create greater expectations.

In response to the Royal Commission administrative reporting has increased considerably so how can we streamline this for providers while still collecting and reporting this valuable data which is critical to continue to improve service level care and the system more broadly. And in solving some of these problems it’s not lost on us that aged care is part of a broader system. Health and also the care and support economy has been top of mind for us. We want your input to shape this Strategy and the pathway for Government and sector investments in digital solutions. We want to identify the pain points and the priorities to address these but we can’t get paralysed in problem admiration. We need your help to identify the actual steps we can take forward in order to create the biggest outcome for older Australians. And we want to hear from you how we can use this strategy to lead a sustainable and productive care and support economy that delivers quality care and support for people and meaningful jobs.

So I’ll now hand over to Mark Booth from Nous who’s going to recap on what we’ve heard so far.

Mark Booth:

That’s great. Thank you very much for that Josh. And it’s really nice to be able to present at this webinar this afternoon. I was personally and Nous Group were really pleased to be able to work alongside the Department of Health and Aged Care in doing this. It’s an area of real interest and real passion for a lot of people and it’s fair to say that we had a huge amount of interest in digital and data across the aged care spectrum.

In fact around about 400 individuals have taken part in consultations. These consultations ran from late 2022 when we started this process through to September 2023. And those consultations were either as part of small focus groups, one on one interviews or through larger forums. The sessions were guided by preprepared sets of questions agreed by the Department and really focused upon the key issues and the challenges that people within the aged care system face. And that was across as I said the whole area of the aged care system. It was really looking to say how could a strategy help achieve and create benefits for the wider aged care sector.

The consultations highlighted as we’d expect a system under a considerable amount of pressure. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ongoing staffing shortages and low morale were clearly evident. Many stakeholders highlighted the complexity of the system which many service delivery models covered these population groups going across the country. Having said that, having identified those issues and those concerns stakeholders could also see the benefits that really came with improved data and digital solutions. I’m just going to briefly go through some of the key themes that were identified and that you can see on the slide in front of you.

It was highlighted that a key role of the Strategy should really be to provide guidance and clarity across the sector allowing all groups from whatever aspect they come to understand the direction and focus of data and digital in aged care. It was apparent through the consultations that there was a really high level of willingness to use new technologies but it was also identified that a lack of learning opportunities, technical support and user friendliness which came across quite a bit posed barriers for some particularly for older people and their carers and also for some aged care workers.

It was clear that targeted education and training is required to facilitate an uplift in data literacy and capability of older people, service providers and aged care workers. To try and support that digital technologies really should be used to make the provision of care simpler and easier. A key thing running throughout this will be that it should not add complexity and administrative overhead. Automation and streamlining of non-care tasks is really identified as a really key way of generating efficiencies in the system.

It's apparent that over the last few years the number of digital systems in use has expanded dramatically and lots of people talked about to make sure the effectiveness of this you have to focus these systems on user friendly, simple, fit for purpose, digital solutions. Accessibility and affordability were other key themes that came through and are key drivers of engagement with digital health solutions for older people, aged care workers and service providers. Many people highlighted that specific targeted and appropriate funding was a prerequisite to the greater adoption of digital technology. Greater consistency and unification within the sector and across the whole of the healthcare system is really necessary not just within aged care but across the whole system. Digital foundations need to ensure and enable interoperability so that we can reduce complexity and really move to more continuous care.

Finally maintaining the ability to choose between digital and non-digital channels was really highlighted by many participants. People want to make choices about the best way that they engage with aged care and that was really key for older people and their support networks.

The aged care ecosystem as you will all know is a really complex mix of individuals, organisations, priorities, responsibilities, strategies. It’s a complex area and there’s a lot going on in the sector at the moment. And this diagram illustrates our alignment with data and digital across health and aged care. What we’ve done with the strategy and its vision and outcomes is to align this with the draft whole of Government care and support economy strategy which covers disability, veterans, early childhood and also aged care. Building on that we recognise that aged care does not stand alone. We’re aligning our approach to support the broader care and support economy as I’ve said including disability services and veterans care.

We also recognise that much of the same workforce works and provides care within health and aged care services and that’s why we’ve positioned the strategy to be a companion strategy to the draft Commonwealth digital health blueprint. Our strategy and this blueprint set out respectively the future for data and digital across aged care and health and both are seeking to strengthen continuity of care. This alignment will bring aged care and health and digital systems closer together. For example adopting the same data standards across all of these sectors is key so that information can be more easily shared. We’ve worked closely with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to make sure their expertise has been leveraged and also the Australian Digital Health Agency as the agency who lead national data work across the system.

So where did we get to and what is the key thing in terms of a vision and the strategy.

This slide presents the vision that has been developed and established. I should establish that this vision is a vision that came out of those consultations so it’s a vision from all of the people who really participated. The vision is to deliver the highest quality person-centred care for older people while driving a sustainable and productive care and support economy through data and digital innovation. The vision recognises that data and digital are enablers to improving care and wellbeing for older people. It highlights the fundamental role of the workforce and service providers in whose hands rest the delivery and achievement of high quality care. The data system and digital landscape that this strategy aims to create consists of those things that are really important and direct and meaningful to support the vision. And the vision really is at the heart of the Data and Digital Strategy. It runs through the whole document and everything else hinges within it.

I’m going to pass back to Josh now and Josh is going to go through some of the key components of the strategy and some of the details that underpin and link through to this overarching vision. So Josh back to you.

Josh Maldon:

Thank you so much for that Mark. It’s just really important to reiterate what we’ve heard to date and also how that’s framed up in the vision. So within the frame of that vision here’s the great reveal for you all. You’re the first to see the strategy we have here on a page. I’m sure you’re feeling suitably lucky. So as you can see here we’ve got the vision and what we’ve established is a through line, a through line across the guiding principles, across the outcomes, across the strategic priorities so we can establish how any initiative is working through to improve care at the point of delivery.

So we start with the vision there which is underpinned by six guiding principles. And again that was based on what we’ve heard from you, older people and their carers. Things like person‑centred design, tell us once. We need to know that it’s trusted, safe and secure. We need that within our data and digital foundations are the types of things we heard. Out of the guiding principles you can see how this then links to four outcomes. These deliberately mirror the outcomes in the digital health blueprint to start to bring the systems together. The first two outcomes focus primarily on people and service providers while the other two outcomes there focus on the system needed to improve the data and digital foundation. Each outcome has two strategic priorities under them and each priority then has a number of proposed actions to achieve the priority and help realise the outcome. And this is where we need your help. What are the proposed actions? Where are we worth investing and in what sequence?

So if we move on to the next slide and we’ll start to look at those guiding principles. So when we look at the guiding principles that we’ve developed what we did was take a principles led approach. So those principles have informed the development of the strategy and again they will continually inform the implementation of activities underneath it. We heard from people that these things were important. Again person-centred, the selection, the design, the implementation of all initiatives need to be focused on the benefits that they achieve for the older person. Tell us once. Information should be re-used and shared so that people only need to tell their story once. Initiatives consider how systems and information can securely include the right place at the right time. This takes the burden off the older person having to repeat that story. And again trusted. Trust, privacy, security. It all needs to be safeguarded particularly in this current environment. Initiatives involving the sharing of sensitive information need to be tightly controlled, uphold the privacy of individuals and adhere to strict consent protocols.

Diversity. And we know that within the aged care sector. We know we have diverse and individualised needs. It was recognised during implementation that changes can impact individuals differently so we need a deep understanding of this to ensure no change negatively impacts demographics. Integrated. We need technical standards in order to promote harmonisation across the aged care and associated system. Where we have gaps in consistency standards should be used to steward that harmonious system together. And care focused. The burden for frontline workers should be minimised. We want to be able to free people up to provide high quality care. So implementation needs to ensure that all the important work done by frontline workers is supported by the tools and processes that make things easier for them and allow them to dedicate more time to providing quality care.

If we move on to the next slide. We want to be bold and ambitious in achieving the world’s best aged care system and we know that to do this that embracing data and digital opportunities is absolutely essential. The intended benefits highlight within the strategy how all key stakeholders can benefit. You’ll see older people and their carers at the centre. You’ll also see other stakeholders such as yourselves, the aged care workforce, providers, also the interface with the assessment workforce and also the interface more broadly between aged care and health such as health clinicians referring into and again needing information from aged care systems.

Improving data and digital will make it easier to get the information you need and provide information to us. It should also reduce the administrative burden and again free up more time to provide quality care. I want to hear from you how we can continue to encourage innovation and research to find new and easier ways to more seamlessly deliver care.

So to illustrate the benefits we have a number of different personas. We have got three core personas here. We have Benny an elder person, Anita an aged care worker and also White Hills a service provider. We’ve shown Anita and White Hills there on the slide and you can see the strategy. It actually provides a lot more detail. Everyone’s aged care journey has nuances and individual features that make them unique but these personas are designed to reflect a bit of everyone and to highlight some of the ways that the actions and the strategy will improve the experience for everyone in the sector based on an atypical [0:16:59]. There’s also supporting personas. So again informal carers who are key to this, health clinicians, also assessors and technology vendors that are intertwined with the personas to show the benefits across aged care.

So if we jump to the next slide.

So progress against the first outcome. That involves tangible increases in the availability, accessibility and usefulness of data and digital technology to support people to understand and make informed decisions about them. Priority areas to achieve this outcome are promoting healthy ageing, independence and choice even before people have the requirement for aged care services. We also want to create simplified, user friendly experiences. The first priority is about leveraging digital technologies, driving data insights to enable older people to understand their own ageing process. How do we promote healthy ageing? How do we encourage people and empower them to make decisions about their care whether they’re receiving formal aged care services or not?

The second centres around ensuring that all digital interactions are intuitive, accessible and enriching for older people, support networks, aged care workers and service providers. The second outcome involves the establishment of data and digital solutions to connect care services as well as enabling the use of technology to improve the quality and person-centricity of care. Priority areas to achieve this outcome are maximising time for direct care which seeks to use data and digital technology to optimise the allocation of time and resources, ensuring that as much as possible can be dedicated to personal care.

Strengthening care connections which seek to improve care coordination and also providing a more holistic and person-centric approach to care, recognising the multi-faceted needs of individuals. So that’s the second one. If we jump through to the second slide.

There we go. Progress against the third outcome involves rationalising the collection of again use of data and ensuring that only useful data needs to be collected, needs to be collected at the right place and making sure that it’s used effectively to improve care. Priority areas to achieve this outcome are improving security and access controls to ensure aged care is secure and reliable and enhance data collection and use which enables data and digital solutions, provide care that is evidence-based and tailored for the individual’s needs and make sure we observe that continuous improvement.

Progress against the fourth outcome will involve the establishment of key system wide technical foundations to uplift the data and digital maturity and capability of the sector. Priority areas to achieve these outcomes are building data and digital maturity which aims to build the collective data and digital skills and tools of the aged care sector, effectively managing data and using digital technology in a secure way. This priority’s also about the Government leadership, setting clear guidelines, standards, ensuring uniformity across the aged care sector. This priority recognises the necessity to have a single, clear, set target for the future of industry while the aged care sector shares, adopts and adapts to innovate together towards common goals.

So again each of the outcome areas and strategic priorities have action areas. Promoting healthy ageing, independence and choice. And action areas include an ageing well application that will allow people well before they need to go into aged care, where they’re on their life curve, practical tips for ageing well. It could include digital health literacy training and an assessment booking system so older people can directly book an aged care assessment once registered. This priority is all about supporting older people and their carers to remain independent and safe in the home. So we want to create simplified user experience actions in aged care, enhancements with better functionality, user friendliness, information sharing, compatibility with the other platforms and include functions to manage services, managing health records and accessing timely information to manage care.

Again for maximising time for direct care it includes business to Government, a common interface between providers and the Government for direct interactions between the two parties. This interface should include automation with APIs and common data definitions. This has been developed with our digital transformation colleagues who will also be joining us for today’s Q&A session. We’ll have Fay Flevaras along.

The strengthening care connections action areas include e-referrals for allied health professionals so they can transfer information and refer older people directly into aged care similar to the functionality which is currently used by GPs. Improve security and access controls. Action areas include streamlining authentication aiming towards a single sign on for aged care workers and providers. And it also includes the foundational integration between My Aged Care and My Health Record. For enhanced data collection and use action areas include consistent clinical information standards across aged care. And also things like the aged care NDMS, how we actually bring that to life through the GPMS system.

To build and embed data and digital maturity. Action areas include digital standards and APIs that make the transfer of information safe and secure including within the health system. For encourage innovation and provide stewardship action areas include a framework for AI use in aged care and a structured approach to bringing digital innovations into aged care. Again we’ll be working really closely with our digital transformation colleagues on that.

So we might actually segue there and go into a bit of a question and answer session. So I hope you found that useful. And as I said before we’re joined here by Mark Booth from Nous. We’ve also had Fay Flevaras jump in. And we’d be happy to take on some of your questions.

So I can see there that we’ve got one up there from George and it’s that:

Q:        Aged care providers need help in procuring systems that meet required standards and functionality requirements. Is there a plan to educate the sector on digital procurement expertise?

And George I might just respond to that in the first instance and say that’s something that we have heard during targeted consultations, is that certainly both aged care providers but also software vendors as well are looking for a degree of certainty or for Government to provide a bit more of a rolling stewardship of the sector. And so that’s something certainly that we’re open to hearing and also hearing about how we best do that. So for example do we provide minimum conformance specs and those things to help guide aged care providers’ procurement? But I might prompt Fay, if you wanted to build on that at all.

Fay Flevaras:

Sure. Hi everyone. Thanks for having me Josh at your webinar today. It’s great that we’re teaming up. And to George’s point there’s probably a few opportunities we have to help assist the community uplift here. Exactly what you just said but also happy through some of the hot topic items that we have in Digital Tech Talk, if that’s something that people would like to nominate and vote up then we can absolutely spend some time pulling together some of the things that we in Government look for when we’re doing our procurement and sharing some of that IP. Of course noting that each company would have to do their own due diligence and seek their own legal advice but absolutely we can help by coming up with some pre-canned requirements around what does good look like for digital and what are some of the considerations. Anywhere we can help the community uplift around that strategic thinking I think is really important for us to contribute.

Josh Maldon:

Thank you Fay. So we’ve had another question come in and we’ve got a couple around e‑referrals. So one of them is:

Q:        Is there a timeframe for the integration between My Aged Care and My Health Record?

So both Fay and I are currently working on a project to do exactly that. So the first use case that we have been working in relation to that is actually making assessment plans available through My Health Record. That’s an initiative that we hope to be landing later next year. And again then we’d be starting to talk about well what is the best use case and how do we start to pull information back from My Health Record into My Aged Care. Progressing that two-way agenda is going to be really important for us.

I’ll take this one as a comment. We’ve got:

Q:        Given that we’re all on the ageing spectrum from birth aren’t these strategic guidelines and outcomes desirable for all people regardless of age? Healthy ageing can start from day one rather than day 18,262 for our First Nations family or day 23,741 (65) for everyone else?

I reckon that comment really resonates with me. So this is something that we’ve been keen and we want to talk to you about this. We agree with you that ageing is a journey. It’s a lifetime journey. Having worked on reablement initiatives and those sorts of things I’m definitely and the Department and Government is definitely interested in hearing how we can actually better promote healthy ageing. It actually starts before people have the need to engage with us from an aged care service system perspective. And so I’d agree with that comment and take it on and open it up for feedback as to how we do do that. How do we support people before they actually need to access aged care services? There’s a lot more work to be done I think in prevention and I think it’s critical that we pick that up. And we’ve certainly tried to reflect that within the strategic priorities. So again I think it was number one where that was reflected.

Okay.

Q:        When will the API between My Aged Care and aged care system providers be created and finished?

Fay I think that one’s for you.

Fay Flevaras:

Yeah. There’s a couple there that I think I might be able to assist with. So when will the first API between My Aged Care and the aged care system providers be created and finished? So this is like a new channel for me and so I might repeat a few things that I say in some of our other webinars that Josh has come and presented to as well. There is a capability at this stage that we’ve called B2G, business to Government. It has been codesigned with the sector over the last 12 months. The portal has gone live already and we’re up to the next phase, the next step in that capability which is to get software providers or anyone who has an IT department who would like to connect to us. So I know there’s some big end of town providers that have their own IT shops and systems. So it’s really whoever wants to get connected with Government.

The registration process has just started which is we kindly call it the conformance process. There is rules that we look for and how you have to conform to be able to connect to Government systems. And we’re in the process of doing that and then we actually are designing I believe a couple of hypothetical ones. Although I’m not sure if we’ve nailed exactly which ones will be done but at this stage our assumption is we’ll be doing quality indicators and star rating APIs to assist with any double handling that might be happening between your own systems and then reporting to us. And that’s due to hopefully go early next year, in the first half of next year. So hopefully that answered that question.

And the one underneath that was:

Q:        Will the software providers need to be registered and partnered?

Absolutely. And that’s what we’re testing now is that registration process and how seamless it is, how easy it is. Noting that it’s a little bit of work because we need to know who you are and how you’re connecting and make sure that we’re identifying that it’s all secure and safe especially with all the cyber sort of things that are happening around the place. And so there is a bit of a process to go through but we’ve tried to make it as seamless as possible and we’re currently piloting that approach now with our sector partner community. So if anyone wants to get in early you’ll have to register as a sector partner and be part of that codesign community and you can get the heads up on what’s going on. In the meantime we present a lot of that information back to the Tech Talks to keep everyone updated. So hopefully that answered those two Josh.

Josh Maldon:

That’s really helpful Fay. And I’m just reading an interesting one here now too that I might flick over to Mark to speak to and then I can elaborate a bit. But one of the comments is that:

Q:        Some of these actions and strategies are hard to accomplish in regional or remote areas. Will there be additional resources and infrastructure support available to bridge the gap?

And before I hand over to you Mark to sort of answer that question or discuss what you heard from people in that space I did want to reassure people that it’s not lost on us that there absolutely are some barriers to connectivity. We do understand that over 27% of the population live in areas where connectivity can be an issue. And so sometimes it’s about how can we actually use digital in places where connectivity isn’t an issue so we can actually get the face to face resources where they’re most needed. And so making sure that we’re doing the best we can from a system perspective will definitely be paramount to this strategy. But Mark I just wanted to know whether or not you had anything else to add in the context of some of the challenges you heard in regional and remote but also whether you heard anything about some of the solutions that we could employ in that space.

Mark Booth:

Yeah. Absolutely. Thanks Josh. You’re right. The questioner is right. This was an issue that came up many times in a number of consultations that we did. The issue of access and availability, access to technology in rural and remote areas in terms of the technical issues that impede, were one area, but also the ability of people living in rural and remote areas to be able to make fullest use of these systems was another area that came up as a particularly interesting one.

Having said that there was a lot of support for data and digitally enabled solutions to move forward in ensuring that people could use these systems to be able to enable them to actually in many cases stay in the places where they wanted to stay so that they could actually use them to actually age in place, to actually stay in the environments they liked and where they felt supported by the use of digital technologies that could enable much better virtual care to allow them to do that. There was certainly issues about how do we access the information and get that moving but also a real support for using the technology to enable people to access services in those areas and it being seen as a boon.

Again there’s a lot of stuff going on in this area and we heard many examples of either private sector agencies or PHNs or different regional governments putting in and really putting resources into ensuring that individuals, groups and different staff groups were kind of given the ability and the training to be able to access these systems. So really, really important Josh.

Josh Maldon:

Thanks Mark. So we’re getting a few questions in which go towards interoperability and sharing of data and one of these I’ll head to Fay which goes towards the data standards being used. And then there’s another one which is around:

Q:        Will privacy laws impede the implementation of digital platforms and how will this be managed so that when data is shared it is useful?

Absolutely imperative to this is privacy laws. We are looking at harmonising legislation where it makes sense. So for example in the context of the new Aged Care Act we’ve been looking at building in provisions such that we absolutely can share more information noting that consent is absolutely paramount to that. So information will be only shared when people consent to it. But absolutely the privacy laws is something that is a complexity that we absolutely are alive to and need to continue to work through in this space, as is the security issues more broadly.

But Fay I might jump down to you. The question we had was it was mentioned we’ve been working with ADHA on the data standards being used.

Q:        Is the intention to have modern health messaging technologies ie FHIR as the data structure underpinning these changes?

Fay Flevaras:

Yes. So we’ve absolutely been working with ADHA for the last two years while we’ve been on this aged care transformation journey. They come and speak to our Tech Talks quite a lot and we’ve been building that business to Government gateway together especially that conformance piece. So we’re trying to make things as consistent as possible. When it comes to the data model and the interoperability standards absolutely we’re behind supporting all things clinical to be that FHIR standard. And we are still working with them and looking at what does that mean for us in aged care for non-clinical information. So there’s quite a lot of information that we collect that actually may not align as easy to the FHIR standard and we’re just trying to work out how do we adapt the FHIR standard to make it work together interoperability wise or do we use other aged care information models and augment and have different business domain spaces underpinned by different information models.

I know what I’ve just said is probably pretty controversial for those in the tech community. Just like banking has its own banking payment standards that everyone tries to align to, just like telco have theirs, it’s about how do we blend all of that together and make sure that we’re being clear about what the interoperability standards look like and how do we align so that we’re not doing work now and then having to redo it later. And we have been on this journey for a little bit and so we are trying to launch our first APIs next year. And I know that in our digital health agenda more broadly in the Department the interoperability agenda is big and so we’ll be working closely with our counterparts to make sure that we keep as aligned as possible while still delivering at pace. So hopefully that answered the question.

Josh Maldon:

Lovely. Thanks Fay. And important to raise the point that we do look to leverage the common platforms that are out there where this makes sense to contribute to where we’re going. So look we have had a lot of questions come through around the digital literacy piece which is something that we certainly heard loud and clear during the consultations I think across all different system actors, certainly older Australians, carers. We had CALD, First Nations, aged care workforce. And so there’s a number of dimensions to it and one thing that we do want to do with you guys is actually hear from you what the best way is to tackle those particular issues.

So for example with older Australians it is the be connected program, it’s a joint initiative between the Department of Social Services and the e-Safety Commissioner, and it focuses on increasing the confidence, skills, as well as online safety of older Australians. Could we leverage something like that or how do we actually get out there more locally and how do you potentially leverage the infrastructure of community banks and rotary clubs, those sorts of things where there actually is really a localised presence. And that’s where we do want to hear from you.

Mark I might just ask you because that’s something that certainly would have come up in consultation. Again what were the sorts of things that you heard and where do you see some of the potential solutions in this space?

Mark Booth:

Look absolutely. Many of the consultations that we had with older people, with their carers, and also to a degree with many aged care workers commented around digital literacy and the need to ensure that people were confident and had either access to systems that were extremely user friendly or had access to people who could come along and support them in terms of doing this. Because people could see the benefits of doing this. And we heard of a number of initiatives around the country where people are either partnering with people or where they have friends or family who come in to actually support people on this data literacy journey.

Now having said that I should say that we also met a number of people who pointed out that many older people are very data literate and have been on the digital health journey for many, many, many decades. And we did have some great conversations with people who’d been working on digital solutions as I say going back decades. And they were kind of saying ‘Well we’ve been on the journey but often we just need refreshers or reminding or we need solutions that enable us to be able to access things much more clearly and better’. So look a really interesting, crucial area for which people are really focused on I think. So very positive stories and a lot of willingness to actually help here.

Josh Maldon:

Thank you Mark. And again we’ve had a lot of comments around is there funding available for particular things? Or a comment.

Q:        What is the status of the various funds mentioned in the strategy?

So at the moment we’re simply reflecting to you what we’ve heard from people as to where they think Government should make investments. So I should be really clear at this particular point that any funding for any purpose would be subject to Government decisions and have to go through those formal processes. But what we want to hear from you through this process is where do you think investment, if Government was going to invest, is best directed and in what sequence we would do that. Because again coming out from the vision, the principles, the outcomes, the priorities, we want to back this up with an action plan that says what we intend to do and when we intend to do it. So this is what we want to hear from you.

Fay we’ve had a number of comments around where else they can find out more in your space. So if you just want to give people a quick recap on Tech Talks and sector partners. There’s a few comments there.

Fay Flevaras:

So there’s a couple in there. I think our moderators have provided the link to the Department of Health’s website where we host the digital transformation page. In there you can see what it’s all about and the Digital Tech Talks that we do approximately every six weeks. This is where from a delivery, implementing digital – this is where we go out to the sector and we communicate what we’re working on. I’ve noted there was another question in there about what does it look like at the end potentially. A lot of the information as we know it today is being reported through that channel. We do try and give you at least at minimum a six month roadmap of the project work we’re doing and it’s through that Tech Talk series that we get people to volunteer as sector partners.

And what does it mean to be a sector partner? It means that you sprint with us once a fortnight, Friday at 11 o’clock on the regular. We have the sector partners come and we show them what are the open design activities that we have, that we seek input from the community whilst we’re developing some of these solutions. Josh while he was developing his digital strategy here came and showcased it there and got some feedback initially as well. So it’s really the place that we get input from you guys to help inform some of this before we go wide to everyone and then through the more broader consultation. It is that community that helps design what kind of APIs we should be doing first. So hopefully that gives you a little bit of an insight around how you could participate in some of the real delivery challenges that we have. And so that website shows you what the Tech Talks are, how you can register for them, and if you want to be a sector partner how you can send us an email and we’ll get you registered for that as well. So hopefully that was a quick recap on all things digital delivery and implementation.

Josh Maldon:

Thank you Fay. And look there’s a comment here which I’m going to draw on because it struck a real chord of affinity within me. And it’s that:

Q:        Radical innovation is needed to enable us to meet the demand. Digital is a great enabler for this. Are there programs to support local innovation?

So George you’ve posted that and that’s something that we’ve been talking about here. How do we incentivise innovation? We know that there’s really good innovation already out there in the sector however we want to incentivise more of it and we want to fertilise that across the sector more broadly. And we want to understand what the best ways to do that are. So the issue you’ve raised is definitely one of the key questions and again something we want to understand with far greater detail through this process.

Okay. So I’ve got a question here on:

Q:        Depending on what the final system looks like it will change how we do business and what our staff do.

And it’s so true. Technology always impacts on people and processes and those particular things.

Q:        Will there be a release of detail of how everything works from an overall systems view to enable us to plan how we adapt?

And this is something that I might head over to Fay in that space but I do want to reiterate that yes we have heard loud and clear that this is something where people do see that there is certainly a role for Government in stewarding the system and starting to pull together those sorts of bits of information and make it really clear the transparency on what the agenda is so people can build with certainty and implement the change, the critical enabling change that’s needed. But Fay I might see if you want to build on that at all.

Fay Flevaras:

And I might answer this in two ways. I might answer it top down which is you’ve started with the digital strategy here – and Josh you can help me get the names right – but Minister Wells launched I think the overall master plan and roadmap of the horizons. I think that’s what it was called. Correct me if I’m wrong. Trying to do a look ahead in that sense. And then what we do is we take it down to what are the actual projects that we’re all doing together in the next six and 12 months so you can see that roadmap in the Tech Talks. Just as an aside we’re digital so we record them all so you can go and find the last 18 months’ worth of pre-recordings and you can go back and have a look at the evolution of where we started from and where we’ve landed and how we’re now looking ahead more and more. Because now that the Minister has the roadmap from a legislative and Ministerial perspective, that looking forward, we can now share a lot more from the inside as well.

Bottom up we haven’t shared too much in the way of any specific systems, architectures and things like that. We are cautious about how much we put out there from an IP perspective to know how things hang together too much. But we are trying to make it clear about what are the big platforms, and so for My Aged Care and GPMS and B2G, and we are trying to look at what are the APIs that we’re going to use to connect more broadly. That’s already public knowledge and you can see that all out on our websites. And really it’s about we’ve heard you loud and clear. You need to know what we’re doing because you need to plan ahead for your own operations and your own products and your own software systems and roadmaps. So when we know we share it directly through that Tech Talk series as soon as we can. So we’re trying to be as transparent as possible. With that comes the qualifier but sometimes we share things that might change due to Ministerial decision making and what we’ve put out there is not a commitment to deliver on stuff until you’ve heard it from the right sources in that sense. And so we really have tried to open the community and just show you what we’re working on. And hopefully I think we’ve created a pretty trusted community and I think everyone’s coming together really nicely to help each other as timeframes are short. We’d love to be able to give you more notice but we tell you when we know in that sense.

Josh Maldon:

It’s the challenge. Absolutely.

Fay Flevaras:

It is. There’s a lot going on.

Josh Maldon:

There’s an unapologetic, ambitious agenda at times isn’t there Fay?

Fay Flevaras:

Well we’re being ambitious right?

Josh Maldon:

Absolutely right. Absolutely right.

So I’ll just go through and take another look. So there’s a question here.

Q:        Will you take on board any lessons of the new NDIS system that is intended to deliver on similar principles, has a strong focus on accessibility that can only be a positive for other systems?

Really good comment and it’s something that’s not lost on us that in aged care we are part of a broader system. We’re inextricably linked to the health system but also the care and support economy as well. So how do we link with disability, DVA, even childcare services, all those particular things? We do meet with our colleagues. I certainly know that Fay you’re part of an interdepartmental committee. Because we do try to talk to each other and we are looking at joining up across whole of Government where it makes sense to. But Fay is there anything else you wanted to build on that?

Fay Flevaras:

Probably two things. All of the inclusiveness and WCAG compliant work that our NDIS did, they absolutely shared it all with us and that formed our new basis for our work especially in the new Government Provider Management System. So we’re lucky. We’re Government. We’re not competing with each other so we get to leverage the good work that the other Departments have done. So yeah absolutely have borrowed from them and leveraged their good work.

To your second point around the new Government Provider Management System, yes I do chair an interdepartmental committee around how we can be building that for whole of Government and the potential for other Departments like Veterans Affairs and NDIA to leverage some of that and create a unified single experience for providers. There is a pretty high statistic – and don’t quote me on it please – somewhere in the order of 65% of providers offer care across the different aged care, disability care and veterans care. So that is front of mind about how do we bring that together and create a single experience to help reduce and assist that whole care and support economy. And as we said before we’ll be looking to see how we can coordinate with the digital health strategy as well and see how we can help leverage what they’re doing and vice versa. So thanks for the question. It’s very top of mind.

Josh Maldon:

Thanks Fay. And I might take about two more questions and we’ll start to wrap up. This one I can see has had a lot of thumbs up and it’s:

Q:        What is the Department doing to ensure digital inclusion of First Nations people in its strategy?

So there is a First Nations digital plan and that’s something that’s being considered in the context of the strategy. We certainly are happy to hear from you as to what the specific strategies are that we should be thinking about in the context of older Australians and aged care. So insofar as the targeted consultations, we’ve spoken to Council of Elders, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council, as well as we’ve spoken to NACCHO, we’ve spoken to VACCHO, a fair few different agencies. And again we’re looking for more initiatives in that space. So again we are aware of a number of initiatives that are already happening. So again the be connected program, that joint initiative with the Department of Social Services and the e‑Safety Commissioner, again that’s certainly available for First Nations.

There is absolutely an online journey app that’s available. So it’s an application and supporting training guide which is developed by the e-Safety Commissioner and again it’s to guide and help that uplift with digital literacy of individuals with low digital confidence but including those who are living in remote communities. There’s an initiative empowering First Nations people to manage their own health information through the My Health Record, My Health Record storybooks, as well as there’s Australian Digital Health Agency’s consumer digital health literacy program. That’s developing new consumer digital health resources and again modules will be specifically tailored and available for First Nations communities and carers. And again there’s an Indigenous digital help workforce initiative designed to pick up that component. But again aged care specific things we want to hear from you.

Fay Flevaras:

Josh I noticed there was a question there around are we going to software vendors and learning from what others are doing. I just would like to kind of say yes we do. We do a lot of strategic analysis and how we can learn from other adjacent industries as well. So we’ve done quite a lot of research around those topic areas. And so not just with our software providers but with peers from other areas of Government and also other large scale enterprises from private sector. And we do go – as part of the codesign when we’re looking at options on how to solve things we do go and discuss with them as well. I just thought I’d share that one because there’s quite a few questions here to go. I’m not sure if you’re going to get through them all.

Josh Maldon:

No. And what we’ll do – and as I said before we often get a large range of questions which is fabulous. We love your engagement. And what we’ll do, we’re not going to be able to get to every single one of these but we’ll pull together some questions and answers for you, some of the key ones that have absolutely come as part of this. So I am sorry that we haven’t been able to get to every single one.

Fay Flevaras:

I’m more than happy to offer up to put them up on the digital transformation Tech Talk Q&A page. We often have the same problem when we run our Tech Talks. And then we do answer them offline and then put them up there for people to go back at a later stage. It also helps us to kind of thematically understand the different questions that are coming from various channels and then Josh and I can put our heads together and maybe come back with more specific topic areas in the future.

Josh Maldon:

Lovely. Thank you so much for that Fay. And thanks to everyone. So we might start to wrap this particular session up. And so in terms of the strategy itself we’ll be sending a link to the strategy tomorrow. We’ll make it available on the Engagement Hub, the webinar landing page as well. It will be promoted through social media and through the Your Aged Care update and newsletter.

I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to review the document. It’s a solid document. It’s about 46 or 47 pages if memory serves. And we want to get your feedback. And so you’ll be able to engage through the Engagement Hub. You’ll be able to engage by sending through to our email which we’ll publish which is digitalreformstrat@health.gov.au. We are looking at doing this consultation period up until the 20th of November then we’ll look to finalise the consultation findings, feed that into the strategy and shape it. And subject to Government approval it’s intended that the strategy would be released later this year which would mean December.

So before we finish I also wanted to highlight a few upcoming initiatives within the Department. So the sector pulse survey is currently open. So we want to know about your aged care reform experience so we can give you what you need to successfully plan and rollout the aged care reforms. We’ve heard you. We’ve heard you in the feedback that you’ve provided us today around this element. We want to know if you’re receiving the information you need to effectively plan and prepare for the reforms, what’s not working. So we really encourage you to please take that short survey to help us gauge your awareness and better prepare and support you through the change. And it’s critical that we continue to hear you through that process. The survey’s only ten minutes to complete. We’re going to give you a link to that survey in Slido there. And that survey closes on the 31st of October.

Again just a friendly reminder for aged care reporting requirements. So provider operations. Residential and home care providers are required to submit their provider operations information through the collection form. See the Department’s website for further resource and guidance. The Aged Care Financial Report. So again the ACFR and the general purpose financial statement and annual prudential compliance statement are due. The reporting depends on the type of service you provide but make sure you check out the Department’s website for further information. And also the Quarterly Financial Report, the next one is due on Saturday the 4th of November for quarter one.

So when the webinar finishes again a short survey will pop up in your browser. It takes around one minute to answer the three questions. Appreciate it if you could take a moment to help us improve our webinars. I really want to thank you for engaging with us today. I want you to have a great rest of the afternoon. And again if you want to reach out and you want to have direct conversations, those sorts of things, please reach out to the contact information details provided. We’re always happy to hear your feedback. You guys are critical to shaping the way going forward.

Thanks so much and connect with you all soon.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘agedcareengagement.health.gov.au’, ‘Phone 1800 200 422’, ‘(My Aged Care’s free call phone line)’]

[End of Transcript]

Aged care Data and Digital Strategy

Aged care Data and Digital Strategy

This report provides information to aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians and the broader sector on the Aged Care Data and Digital strategy which is scheduled to be launched in 2024.

Presenters

  • Josh Maldon – Assistant Secretary, ICT Strategy Business Assurance Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Fay Flevaras, First Assistant Secretary, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Mark Booth, Principal, Nous Group

About the webinar

The strategy describes a vision and an action plan for harnessing data and digital to improve care and the wellbeing of older people.

It underpins our broader aged care reform agenda and recognises that trusted, timely and accessible use of digital and data can improve the care and wellbeing of older people.

While older people and their carers are at its centre, the strategy is also for aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians, service providers and technology vendors that supply software to these providers.

This webinar provides information on the:

  • background of the strategy
  • approach, process and consultations conducted to develop the strategy
  • key outcomes and focus areas proposed under the strategy
  • actions proposed to achieve the outcomes
  • next steps.

The draft strategy will be available in mid-October 2023. Webinar attendees are invited to submit feedback regarding the draft strategy before it is launched formally in December 2023.

Please send feedback on the strategy to digitalreformstrat@health.gov.au until 20 November 2023. 

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