Best in Category - Service Design 2022

Strong Care

StrongRoom AI

Strong Care is an industry leading medication management platform designed for use within residential aged care facilities.

The current aged care system fails to provide 1.2 million Australians with respectful, responsive quality of care and is plagued with instances of inadequate treatment and negligence. It is in desperate need of an overhaul, where technology and digitisation is imperative to driving improvement. Strong Care has been created in response to this problem by providing an end-to-end connected digital platform. It significantly improves the processes and outcomes of non-care medication management, allowing facilities to prioritise resident care. We have transformed the system of a facility into a cohesive and intelligent care network.

Design Brief:

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has brought to light the systematic weaknesses and deficiencies of our current sector. Unlike other healthcare industries, there has been an extreme hindrance in the adoption of digital infrastructure such as electronic medical records, digital resource management and compliance automation.

Nationwide, only 14% of aged care providers use integrated software systems to manage their residents, and 42% have no digital strategic plan, of which less than half utilise any smart technology. Majority of providers still heavily rely on inefficient and unreliable paper-based solutions. Furthermore, the minimal software solutions available, fail to support end-to-end workflows. There really is no complete solution out there.

Redesigning and digitising the complex workflows within an aged care facility was an incredible undertaking. In-depth user research and co-design from pharmacists, nurses, doctors, care managers and facility providers was key to the success of the design outcome.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Designing a complete medication management system to be used within an aged care facility was an incredibly ambitious brief. A cross-disciplinary team was formed to create an iterative healthcare directed process that covered research, medical design and technological architecture. Central to the process was a user centric design approach. Complete understanding of the experience and interaction of users during each phase of the product was imperative to success. The immense size of the project meant that firstly we had to break down the platform into modules; drug register, stock management, resident profiles, medication administration, clinical reports, notifications and a dashboard overview. Each of these modules undertook the same design process outlined below. Some of which required this process multiple times as there were seperate users with differing requirements for the same module.

Experience Based Design (EBD) Placing focus on experiences, as opposed to systems and processes, enabled an improved understanding of the aged care management experience from all users. This involved capturing the experience, understanding the experience, improving the experience and measuring improvement. Case Studies Examining and evaluating nationwide industry standard paper-based products such as medication prescribing and drug charting enabled us to determine what is required and desired in these processes. Trans-formative Service Research Service and systems design method was used to design uplifting changes. It provided a conceptual framework detailing how interactions between users and modules influences the interpretation of both; one module feeds the other. Synthesis Mapping Analysing the step-by-step process of user interactions prompted a shared understanding of the complex systematic structures of each module. Problem areas and touch-points were important in detecting obstacles and barriers. Advisor Workshops Semi-structured meetings and workshops with doctors, pharmacists, nurses, managers and aged care specialists were used continuously to form elicit user feedback and suggestions.

Design Excellence

Traditionally digital design within healthcare, specifically large backend facility management systems, has lacked intuitive design innovation. These systems are often extremely data heavy, have no formal design structure and lack any form of visual cohesion and appeal. Current digital drug management systems on the market tend to consolidate and cramp as much statistical data possible into interfaces. Visually there is no separation of information, there is no central navigation or user workflow, and all data is represented in clusters of numerical values rather than displayed by use of data visualisation methods such as graphs or statistical graphics.

Our strong focus on effective data visualisation enables healthcare practitioners to quickly engage with their data and develop actionable insights to increase optimal outcomes for patients. Designing for effective user flow is central to our platform. Accessible navigation menus are located at the top of every page, actionable buttons are always placed on the left hand side of the platform, and extensive colour coding has been used to highlight important data and categorise information. Additionally we placed vital importance in ensuring all processes and actions conducted in the software could be done in minimal clicks.

Strong Care sets a new benchmark for the adaption of design directed thinking in healthcare across Australia, highlighting the need for design principles to be at the core of improving our aged care sector. Our platform is a big leap forward to a more interconnected healthcare network. Even though it is unlike existing paper-based and digital solutions, Strong Care has been intuitively designed with adaptability at mind so that the platform can be deployed in a facility without extensive training and integrates seamlessly into the existing infrastructure.

Design Innovation

Healthcare digital design has traditionally been created by a proactive healthcare practitioner with little understanding of building technology stacks. Most has been built around necessity and frustration, with quick adoption from the industry as a result of similar sentiments. Strong Care provides a fresh perspective to the industry as it has a strong focus on technology and design. Our alliances and engagement with medical professionals and organisations, has enabled the design to meet the requirements of the traditional industry while pushing the frontier of technology meeting healthcare.

Examples: Data visualisation enables the practitioner to quickly ascertain information to then action treatments and preventions for patients. Reporting enables the organisation to benchmark and reduce time to consolidate information, thereby streamlining on a macro-level resources to areas that need attention Workflow consolidation enables less data inputs thereby reducing operational burden and enabling practitioners and carers to spend more time with residents that require medical attention. The ability to automate backend functionality with minimal clicks, ensures the operational efficiency increases while improving patient outcomes.

Not only does Strong Care solve a legitimate and relentless problem, the platform begins to introduce the opportunity to truly innovative the sector through AI-driven technology. AI-facial recognition software could be used to automate the patient verification process during drug administration rounds and completely streamline the labour intensive security process of signature verification. AI-analytics can be used to prevent serious drug interactions from over medicating and analysis of data captured could predict resident adherence and facility compliance. We have been experiencing a higher demand for the platform than expected, even before our pilot site program. Within healthcare, interest around product and implementation never occurs this early on, further validating our platform innovation. Furthermore Strong Care has sparked serious interest from well-respected ASX listed healthcare companies and major government departments.

Design Impact

In an era where budget cuts are met with pressures of improvement for quality of care, technology improvements are required to meet the demand while meeting budgetary pressures. Strong Care’s innovative AI-driven medication management system drastically reduce errors and time spent on administrative tasks. It is the only digital consolidated platform enabling the facility to have the most up to date and complete understanding of a patient’s medication profile.

The unique e-Controlled Drug Register workflow and AI analytics enables it to acutely and precisely identify medication errors in real-time. For every 50,000 beds that use the Strong Care platform over a 12 month period, an estimated $43 million in savings are realised by Australia’s healthcare system by reducing adverse drug events - preventing potentially 1,132 life-threatening hospital admissions per annum. To put into perspective, an Australian study from 2018 suggested that 81 of every 100 aged care residents has been exposed to a potentially inappropriate use of medicine, estimating the cost to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) $410.89 per exposed resident, per year.

The future growth of Strong Care, which includes reporting abilities to monitor and reduce medication misuse, could thereby have an additional $16.6 million over the 12-month period. Strong Care is changing the industry’s relationship with data; ensuring a more efficient and safer healthcare system.

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