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new type of home-based elder care model, called Virtual Elder Care Home or Elder Care Home without Walls, has gained popularity in China. It features home care agencies providing a wide range of personal care and homemaker services in elders' homes. Services are initiated by phone calls to a local government–sponsored information and service centre, which then directs a qualified service provider to the elder's home.
Participating providers contract with the local government and are reimbursed for services purchased by the government on behalf of eligible care recipients, the majority of whom are vulnerable. Since its inception in 2007 in the city of Suzhou, in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, the Virtual Elder Care Home model has spread to many parts of the country, including Gansu Province in north-west China. (sourced from Z Feng, C Liu, X Guan, V Mor. China's Rapidly Ageing Population Creates Policy Challenges In Shaping A Viable Long-Term Care System. Health Affairs (Project Hope), 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
You have been contacted by the Ningbo Virtual Elder Care Service to research and document requirements for a computer system to help establish the new service in that city. The service is already functioning but using paper-based systems. Currently, the HVCS (home-visiting care staff) need to come to the office in the morning to receive the list of clients to visit along with details of their conditions and the services they require. If there is a change then the call centre staff try to contact the HVCS by phone. The HVCS complain that they do not have all the information they need when visiting a client in terms of clinical history, family member contact details, or means of referring the client to other services including doctors when needed. They also complain they need to keep manual records of clients and of the services they provided. At the end of the day, the HVCS deliver their time-sheets with times and some details of the visits to clients.
The new system should do the following:
Deliver the daily work schedule on-line to the mobile workforce along with relevant data about the clients and automatically generate the time-sheets.
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As the concept of Virtual Elder Care Homes gains acceptance in China, an increasing number of clients are to be serviced daily. The need to develop and automated system for record keeping and coordinating with HVCS (home-visiting care staff) is identified. Currently, at Ningbo Virtual Elder Care Service, all record keeping is paper based and contact to HVCS is done by phone. Establishing an automated system to replace the existing paper-based system at Ningbo Virtual Elder Care Service is required. This system needs to deliver the daily work schedule on-line to the mobile workforce along with relevant data about the clients and automatically generate the time-sheets. There would be an initial investment that would be required in case if the system is implemented. This initial investment would be of developing and maintain the system.
The various options are analysed above and each ones pros, cons, expected cost and benefit are mentioned. The first option could be that of continuing with the paper-based system. This will be in the comfort zone of the employees and no training would be required for it. The cost would be of rework in case any appointment is shifted or updated. The other option could be to implement the system in the office and continue to work with a phone call based system with the HVCS. This system will help eliminate the paper-based record keeping system. It would give faster booking to clients. However, the staff will have to continue giving updates to HVCS via phone calls. The investment would include that of equipment, licenses of software and training and development of the staff on using the system. This would help in generating higher market share and also reduce human errors while making a booking. When we go for fully implementing the new system in the center as well as send alerts to the HVCS through phone we will get the advantage of a fully integrated end-to-end system with sending updated timesheets. The new system will be lesser familiar for usage to staff thus an additional cost and effort would be invested into training them for it. Also, some cost would go in licensing of software and buying equipment for the same. But this investment can be justified as it would result in higher customer satisfaction, regular staff updates and increase in market share. The choice of implementation would depend upon the service center.