One aged care provider’s solution to meet rural service demand amid staff shortage

Australia is facing a shortfall of at least 110,000 aged care workers by 2030, according to a projection by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. The issue is expected to have a profound impact on the aged care sector as it is predicted to be competing with other nursing sectors to hire and retain between 20,000 to 40,000 available staff over the next two years.

One of Australia’s longest-serving residential aged care providers is taking a shot at this pressing challenge with a modern, virtual solution.

Developed by McLean Care, the iAgeHealth service is being positioned as a “global” solution to barriers to accessing clinical services for residential aged care in regional, rural, and remote communities. 

The service taps a virtual pool of specialist clinicians who are unbounded by location. It provides 24/7 access to a registered nurse and seven-day access to a multidisciplinary allied health team led by a nurse practitioner. However, it allocates time for consultation based on the urgency of care required, though “often residents will be seen in less than an hour from the initial request,” McLean Care said.

Equipped by a range of integrated clinical IoT devices, iAgeHealth offers end-to-end diagnostic, treatment, and care management services, such as wound care, diabetes management, and chronic health management.

After two years of development and testing, McLean Care soft-launched the solution this month. 

Sarah Dring, a clinical nurse consultant, shared with HealthcareIT News her experience with the new virtual service. She also explained how it allocates support to patients round-the-clock and what she thinks is its value for healthcare professionals everywhere. 

How has your experience with iAgeHealth been so far? How did working for iAgeHealth change the way you deliver care?

A: I was fortunate to start with the team prior to the first launch of iAgeHealth and it has just been incredible in so many ways. To see care that is delivered to older people in metropolitan centres finally delivered in regional, rural, and remote areas of Australia shows that access to high-quality care is not just [a possibility] but a reality. 

The IoT diagnostic tools available now through technological improvements enable us to deliver clinical care effectively and efficiently. Add in the strength of an experienced multidisciplinary team that works with iAgeHealth – all within a virtual environment – it allows our overall health practices to be delivered in a way I’ve not witnessed before. 

Data shows that older people living in rural and remote Australia have inequity of access to healthcare, resulting in poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy. We are able to demonstrate through multiple clinical care case studies that iAgeHealth is improving the health outcomes of older people in rural and remote Australia and bridging the inequity gap.

How is the platform’s workload allocation?

A: All clinicians and allied health practitioners are employed by iAgeHealth and have dedicated rosters ensuring that there is always support for services that rely on iAgeHealth for clinical support. The platform allows work to be allocated across a range of allied health disciplines and clinical specialities such as wound care, diabetes management, and dementia care via a referral process. The referral process is built around the internationally recognised communication tool known as ISBAR (Information, Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation). There is a “Stop and Watch” built into the system where if the clinician deems the person is in need of emergency services then the service immediately instructs the worker to call the Australian Emergency Service number. 

As iAgeHealth is an “on-demand service,” registered nurses are available 24/7 and allied health practitioners are available seven days per week. Currently, we are working on increasing our range of specialties. As we scale, we are able to ensure that there is continuity of care. That means our facilities and sites can expect to have dedicated clinicians who know and understand the resident – their story only needs to be told once.

How do you think iAgeHealth supports or complements your work as a clinician/caregiver?

A: iAgeHealth supports our clinical practice as it encompasses new technologies and reinforces the multidisciplinary team approach to healthcare. Through utilising the existing McLean Care frameworks, we are able to adapt our practices to ensure they meet existing and emerging virtual healthcare requirements. We also have the ability to see first-hand the amazing difference this platform can offer regional, rural and remote Australians and follow their journey alongside them in real time.

Is it scalable?

Preliminary findings from trials in July showed that iAgeHealth “significantly reduced wait times for access to services, improved clinical and health outcomes, enhanced holistic healthcare management through a multi-disciplinary team model and [delivered] high degrees of resident satisfaction,” McLean Care shared.

“It’s important to be clear that iAgeHealth does not replace the in-person workforce, however, it can support it and provide a safe, viable alternative when registered nurses are not available on-site,” CEO Sue Thomson stressed.

“Think of holiday and sick cover, finding a qualified registered nurse at the last minute or for a short time is not easy, and agency nurses and FIFO [first come, first in] models are costly and can come at a detriment to continuity of care for residents. The service can even provide collegial support for sites with less experienced registered nurses, or where access to particular specialisations such as wound care will result in improved clinical outcomes,” she further explained.

McLean Care is now preparing for a full nationwide rollout of iAgeHealth next month, December. When asked if the service can be sustainably scaled, Thomson said: 

“Yes, iAgeHealth is not just an Australian clinical workforce solution; it’s a global solution. There are registered nursing and allied health shortages worldwide in rural and remote locations across the globe. We have built iAgeHealth on the premises that this is not only an aged care workforce solution, but a global healthcare workforce solution that can deliver virtual care, any time any place.”

“As we have moved through internal testing, external pilots, and now to a full commercial release, we continue to scale and now have delivered thousands of hours of care, with consultations increasing weekly. We are working with strong partners in technology, research, and business to add another layer of oversight to our growth forecasts. It’s exciting times [ahead] for iAgeHealth.”


News7g: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button