Business News Opinion Technology

Grow your care business without added back office headcount

Paul Patarou, Head of Strategic Projects – Health and Social Care, Access Group

When Bay Care implemented its care management system, it saved around £111,000 per year by reducing its back office costs – that’s equivalent of £500.00 per year, per client.

Savings like this are possible when care providers adopt technology that integrates their processes from frontline staff to the back office. It’s even more essential if that business is looking to grow.

One of the first things I’ve seen organisations do when they expand is to automatically take on more staff to deal with the additional workload – namely the extra admin. This not only compounds inefficiency and complexity, but it also eats into margins and profits. It doesn’t make sense to employ people to sift through paperwork, trying to reconcile it, make sense of it – not to mention it often means a reduction in standards of care too.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing increase staff numbers, but you’ve got to look at where you’re deploying limited resources, especially where they’re doing manual tasks that can be automated. Taking on new contracts, dealing with more clients, or branching out into new avenues of care requires that you add frontline staff without having to necessarily recruit for the back office too. That’s where investment should be focused.

The solution is to eliminate unnecessary processes, bottlenecks and better manage essential administration and reporting through automation. Integrating the front and back office means that rotas, expenses, absence, travel, is streamlined with automated workflows in place. Staff can submit expenses remotely; they don’t have to come into the office. Back office staff just need to check everything’s in order and that’s it.

Care plans and daily care routines can be updated by carers on the move with tablets or mobile phones and the rescheduling of visits can be done online, taking into consideration other visits and carer commitments.

Relatives can log in to the portal to find out how their family member is doing, what’s been happening without having to call into the office – that’s fewer calls including from carers – because everything can be accessed electronically. It means more gets done, faster; everyone knows what’s going on in the business or at least what’s relevant to them.

Often care providers don’t know the extent to which they can automate their back office from invoices and purchasing to more efficient cash management (getting cash into the business should always be a priority). There’s no rekeying data or searching for information on different systems.

The amount of money administration costs care providers is huge; it’s one of those things that isn’t often measured so it goes unnoticed – but it is there, and it is real. It’s only when providers start using software that it suddenly hits them the amount of wastage in the business that they weren’t aware of.

A good tip is to periodically look at what you do and if it’s a repetitive manual admin process, chances are it could be automated. Take a closer look at the work being carried out in the back office; again, you’ll find efficiencies that could be made there too.

Don’t think for one minute that I’m suggesting you make back office staff redundant. Quite the opposite. As you grow, they can either move into a different or new position or help with supporting the expansion. It just means you can reach your growth objectives without automatically thinking you have to take on more people to cope with it.

Bringing in systems will also have benefits for the care management team too as there’s less need to extract and reconcile data to pull together reports. Ever spent hours trying to manipulate Excel spreadsheets? Common problem. Ad hoc and timed reports can be automated so there are fewer errors from manual intervention. It also reduces risk; greater transparency and audit trails ensure everything is well-documented and tracked.

When it comes to growing a care business it pays to make efficiency improvements first. Take time to plan, automate and reduce or eliminate any processes you can. And look to technology rather than headcount in the back office as you expand. Not only will this result in a better run, leaner business it will create a solid foundation for excellence in the client care services you intend to provide as well.

To learn how Access Group’s health and social care solutions can help your care business, please visit: https://www.theaccessgroup.com/care-management/

 

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