The role of technology in supporting consumer choice in aged care.
The expectations of aged care consumers are changing, and they are asking for clear, comparable information on experience to support informed decision making.
However, there are currently no sector-wide benchmarks for providers or consumers to easily compare services and make better-informed decisions about aged care.
The need for useful and meaningful information is especially relevant when it comes to quality.
Consumer perceptions of quality are variable and informed by a range of quality of life and experience data points beyond clinical indicators.
Technology has an important role to play in supporting consumer choice, providing the proactive systems and tools to track, measure and publish information on the consumer experience and quality of life indicators that consumer’s value.
Understanding what matters to consumers.
In order to harness technology to support increased choice, providers need to look to platforms and tools that move beyond recording against clinical indicators to measure and report on the quality of life outcomes and experiences that matter to consumers.
Over the past few years, a number of inquiries and research reports have looked what information would be useful and meaningful for people when choosing aged care, and how that information is best communicated.
COTA’s 2018 report, ‘Measuring Quality and Consumer Choice in Aged Care,’ found a preference for information on consumer experience and quality of life when comparing and selecting aged care providers.
To support informed decision making, consumers cited strong support for the availability of ratings and reviews from existing users of aged care. The need for aged care to adopt rating systems, to provide consumers with increased transparency on quality, was also previously identified Carnell & Paterson’s 2017 ‘Review of Aged Care Regulatory Processes.’
Adopting this recommendation, the Department of Health has been charged with developing the Differentiated Performance Rating System. However, this system will be driven by results of assessment against the Aged Care Quality Standards, a process that may only be undertaken for each provider every three years with the published results becoming quickly outdated.
Gathering real-time consumer experience feedback.
With the introduction of the new Aged Care Quality Standards and the continued shift towards a consumer-led, market based aged care system, annual paper-satisfaction surveys no longer suffice as a means to understand how services are meeting their requirements.
To support consumer choice with timely information on experience and quality of life, providers need to look to technology solutions.
Gathering of real-time time feedback on consumer experience is good practice in the new world of aged care. As one of the best measures of quality of life, regularly gaining feedback on consumer experience supports providers to help identify priorities for change and improvement, and the opportunities to develop products and services to better deliver on consumer choice and preferences in aged care.
In this sense, technology has the power to transform the way the sector measures, reports and publishes information on quality of life and experience in aged care.
Benchmarking and the comparison of aged care services.
When we make important purchasing decisions in other areas of our lives, we look to the opinions of others, independent reviews and benchmarks to help us choose or validate our thinking on the services and products available. When it comes to choosing the best-aged care home or service for our loved ones, why should we expect any less?
Decisions about aged care services are made in a highly emotional context, and for the more than 2.2 million Australians currently aged 65 and over who may need access to aged care, the availability of meaningful information and benchmarks is more important than ever.
With the right technology and commitment to transparency, the aged care sector can support consumer choice by measuring and publishing performance against the quality of life indicators that matter to consumers.
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