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The hidden cost of bad care management systems: how the wrong tech can cost your business more than money

October 16, 2023
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In homecare management, there’s no such thing as a small decision.


Who you hire, what contracts you take on - these are all business-critical. But there’s one that’s possibly even bigger: what technology you use to run your business on. 

In a time of tight margins, it’s all too easy to make this choice based on cost - many agencies do this. However, this is where they end up paying the real ‘price’ later on - because choosing the wrong care management technology can cost you in time, effort and crucially, quality of care. What’s worse, it’s extremely hard to undo the damage done once you’ve integrated a system, so making the right choice in the beginning is a critical decision. 

In this article, we shed light on the often overlooked implications of poor care management platforms, so you can spot them when you’re making your decision. 

The Hidden Costs of Poor Platforms

1. Increased Administrative Overheads

More than anything, poor quality technology costs you time. The first area in which you’ll feel the pinch is with your care management team. 

  • The first main snag is if your system requires extensive manual data entry. This means you could be increasing labour costs by as much as 25%, according to research conducted among current Birdie care recipients and non-care recipients. 

  • Secondly, you’ll find a number of systems that still require some data or information to be captured on paper. For example, body maps - if your care management software doesn’t offer digital body maps, your team will often end up making notes on paper and then scanning or uploading photos to systems. While each one may only take a few minutes, over a month of care this can cost hours of valuable productivity. 

  • The third red flag is in real-time alerting and communications. A major source of time lost for care management staff is in having to call and text multiple care professionals in order to inform them of updates and changes. A good care management system will make this easy and centralised - a weak one will mean that your office still relies on hundreds of WhatsApp messages and phone calls, leading to hours of unnecessary time that could be saved. 

The added cost per care recipient? 

  • £904 additional cost of working on visit scheduling due to lack of smart logics, templated rostering features and no optimisation of travel time.
  • £60 additional cost in finance processes due to fragmentation of finance processes sitting outside of your care management software, lack of flexibility for setting up rates and additional ad-hoc expenses or additional bands that had to be manually added to invoices and payroll calculations.

The use of a more efficient system can result in up to 20% cost savings in administrative functions - if there are five people in your office, that potentially means being able to free up a whole person’s time to devote to activities such as recruitment or training. 

2. Lost Revenue and Slow Growth

Poor technology makes a visible dent on your profit-and-loss statement. 

Firstly, it causes the kind of inefficiencies that we described above - with all of this unnecessary time spent ‘papering over the cracks’ in your software, your team has less time to spend on activities that can help your business grow. This missed opportunities lead to slower growth, and missed potential for your business as a whole. 

But there’s even more to it - bad software doesn’t just hamper growth, but can actively reduce your existing revenue. This is because of the experience it gives your care recipients.

Communication with care recipients and their families is a ‘must have’ for a care management system. When a platform fails to offer this, it can quickly lead to dissatisfaction, potentially impacting your agency's reputation and your chances of securing new tenders. 

At the same time, discontented care recipients are likely to seek alternatives, resulting in a direct loss of revenue. A good platform should offer a solution to help you easily and seamlessly keep families informed (without costing your team additional admin time), safeguarding your agency's reputation with councils, tendering bodies, and private care recipients.

3. The Auditing Nightmare

Compliance with regulatory bodies like the CQC, the Care Inspectorate Wales, and the Care Inspectorate Scotland is non-negotiable. But an inadequate platform may lack the tools to ensure compliance or support collecting evidence. 

The implications here are far-reaching. In the short-term, it makes your audit process time-consuming and painful, costing your team valuable time and reducing your efficiency. For example, if your care management platform is unable to automatically associate communication records with the care recipient being discussed, this can be an administrative lift to do when it comes to completing audits for inspections. 

Poor compliance ratings can tarnish your agency's reputation, making it difficult to attract new care recipients or retain existing ones, and in extreme cases, non-compliance can lead to the closure of your agency. 

The added cost per care recipient?

£26 additional cost in quality and compliance due to the lack of a robust embedded analytical feature within the care system and poor implementation of structured data and alerts management taking agencies longer to audit their care quality. 

The right platforms offer features facilitating efficient internal audits, ongoing monitoring, and alerts, enabling agencies to quickly address issues before they escalate into significant operational and compliance challenges.

4. Team Disengagement & Poor Retention

The UK social care sector has a very unique demographic pool. In England alone, 26% of the workforce is over 55 and approximately 18% of the adult social care workforce was born outside the UK, with a significant portion of these care professionals having English as a second language. 

Sub-par care management systems, especially those lacking visual cues and poor user experience and interface, can make the already-difficult day job of care professionals even harder. This leads to frustration and disengagement, potentially contributing to turnover and therefore the loss of skilled professionals that are notoriously hard to replace. 

These experiences can also harm your reputation as an employer, making it harder to recruit new care professionals. 

Read also -  Care Professionals Retention: 6 Tips to Know

The added cost per care recipient? 

£311 additional cost of retaining & managing staff due to poor user experience, lack of educational onboarding and in-app communication systems

To avoid these issues, look out for systems with visually engaging interfaces (as opposed to text heavy ones) that also come with easy-to-access, extensive training (such as Birdie Academy). It’s also important that your care professionals - and not just your care managers - have access to support from your software provider.  

5. Data risks 

Care management software houses thousands - if not millions - of sensitive data points. From details of care and medications, to care professionals’ own data and locations, this is a system that carries incredibly sensitive information. 

The risk here is obvious - poorly-maintained software can result in data breaches that can carry with them severe penalties from both a business and legal perspective. Studies show that 29% of businesses that face a data breach end up losing revenue. Of those that lost revenue, 38% experienced a loss of 20% or more.

The Sum Total 

Over the last 12 months Birdie has run an assessment on the financial impact of using sub-par systems by studying the amount of manual work that is needed for these systems. 

You’ve seen some of these numbers throughout this article, but here’s the sum total of what bad tech can really cost you: £1.3k per care recipient per year. 

So, how do you avoid it?

While we've highlighted the drawbacks of subpar software, good software solutions are out there if you know what to look for. We've written up a list of what we think the 6 Best Care Management Platforms for 2023 are, you can see this list here.

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