George Thaw, Advanced Health and Care, shares how he provides the best possible software solutions for care home businesses
Care Home Professional: Can you tell us bit about the history of Advanced Health & Care
George Thaw: Advanced Computer Software (ACS) was originally a collection of companies pasted together to create value and some degree of vertical integration. In some ways that’s where it ended. This is when Vista Equity Partners (Vista) bought them and we became One Advanced, which is aimed at creating a single view from a product, platform and market point of view. Vista don’t buy companies and then choose the best bits. They invest and continue to invest. That’s what attracted me about them as an organisation. They have put their money where their mouth is in terms of investment to date.
CP: From the conversations I have had with chief executives there seems to be a general fear of getting into a big IT project. There’s been let downs, there’s been costly mistakes. The whole software industry has got a bit of a bad rep within the sector. Is that something you recognise?
GT: Yes. There’s been so many examples of it across the world and in different industries. It’s the ones that don’t work out that generally get more attention. The reality is there a lot of things that don’t get recognised that are being done well. Sometimes people overreach themselves. It’s very complicated. The larger the programme, the more complicated it is. It’s about preparation, clarity, even if there are unknowns knowing what they are and being able to fill the gaps.
CP: Caresys is your largest product. How does that work in terms of setting up say in a dozen homes?
GT: Some of it can be done by referral straight into an account manager. Some of it can come straight in to our presales. A lot of it is the qualification of what it is and what is the functionality required and then the focus is how they want it served. We have just done a detailed review at Caresys in terms of licensing and structure. It’s about serving value to those people and allowing them to grow with us based on confidence and go on to take the next thing. A lot it depends on how it arrives at us and then finding the right level of support and insight.
CP: Would most users of Caresys be back office administrative people who would have a certain level of IT literacy? I know you do care planning as well which works best when it’s in the hands of the carers and nurses.
GT: It’s both. A lot of it is the back office nitty gritty but you want to also be giving people on the front line the information at point of need. I call it the pencil test. At what point in any system does someone have to grab a pencil and a post-it note? The idea is that they shouldn’t. They should be able to gain insight or information at the point they need it. I am evangelical about getting out and seeing how these things are used. We need to understand every single customer interaction we have. We need to make something in a consumable form.
CP: My experience is that the greatest benefits of technology are when they are in the hands of the care teams. Putting things like scheduling and medication management at the point of need seems to be the great opportunity for software companies like Advanced. With the transparency of the CQC system almost everything operators do now is related to quality of care and how the commercial business slips into the slipstream of that.
GT: Social care is costing us billions. Everything that makes it easier to provide a better outcome is going to be of interest to us.
CP: Persuading operators that they must invest in order to receive the benefits must be very difficult in the current climate?
GT: You’re right. We have to be able to offer flexibility so that people can take what they want. How do we create models that helps maximise the benefits from the investments they want to make?
CP: I spend a lot of time talking about the breakdown at the interface between the private provider and the NHS. Can technology help that?
GT: I am 11 months into this world and it’s something that has been there for decades. Even digitisation of paper administration has not happened. I want to be a one-stop shop. We have quite a few bits of the puzzle to be able to create the level of integration from one to the other and are in the privileged position of doing it.
CP: Can we get to the point of every citizen having records that can follow them from place to place?
GT: The millennials will want to start to own their own health data. It could be taken away from the CCGs and the private care owners. That could happen within a decade. Then it will be a very different marketplace. The issue then will be how we take the data that the person chooses to share with us and how do we provide the best outcome for them?