Don’t digitise the status quo! Choose transformation

Every part of our lives has transformed and become digitised; transport, shopping and banking have all dramatically changed:

You can now:

  • Book a taxi via an app and it will arrive within minutes. Then pay for it without cash changing hands
    No more standing in the wet trying to hail down a cab and no more additional stops at the cash machine ‘en route’

  • Order products online and receive them the same day
    No more navigating car parks, only to find out that the shop is out of stock

  • Check your bank account and make transfers without visiting a branch
    No more waiting in queues to manage your account

Society has changed and is continually changing…

The Digital ‘2020’ agenda looks to ensure that Government services keep up with this pace of change and provide the type of service demanded by citizens. Not only do digital services provide a better service, they will usually do so whilst saving money.

E-Government needs to resist ‘Digital Status Quo’

Digital 2020 is a huge opportunity, but one that we believe can also be a threat. Instead of being a driver, the timescale might in itself cause problems. Social Care and Health is an area where digital can transform the citizen's experience, however it is often overlooked. 

Whilst there have been some great examples of digital transformation in Local Government and some great examples of innovative ideas; the majority of what we see is Digital: Status Quo.

Digital: Status quo is where the project is a ‘tick box’ exercise, where real transformation is ignored due to timescales, budget etc.  Information is just placed online and the underlying process remains the same.

The people tasked with implementing eGovernment solutions - project managers, solution designers, etc. – are still too often left alone and don’t always find the necessary support from their clients or top management in order to implement thoroughly transformative solutions.

If Uber had just digitised the status quo, then they would have just put a central cab number online. However, Uber knew the true power of digital and looked what the current issues with the process was and how they could fix it.

This is a missed opportunity.

What do you want the experience to be?

Government need to be thinking service transformation enabled by digital.

Two examples of true digital innovation highlight the potential power of e-government.

Example 1: Digitising the Adoption and Fostering process

Working with Local Authorities across the UK, we have looked at the Fostering and Adoption Process and looked at how digital can help solve some of their issues.

Our consultants sat down with the fostering and adoption teams and listened to them.

They shadowed their work to understand what they wanted to achieve.

Objective:

There were three main objectives for the Fostering and Adoption teams from going digital:

- Attract more foster carers and adopters
An impact assessment on the Children and Social Work Bill found as much as £310 million could be saved over the next 10 years through more looked-after children being adopted and fewer fostering placements being needed.

- Streamline the adoption process
Due to the nature of the sensitive process, the current process was slow and cumbersome. It resulted in lots of paperwork and cost with secure couriers and storage of the paperwork.

- Reduce administration and rekeying of information
The current process meant a lot of time was wasted on administration rather than used effectively with the prospective parents and children.

The solution:

We have implemented MyLife for Fostering and Adoption at a number of Local Authorities across the UK. This is a specialised solution to support service transformation and address the issues raised above.

By introducing the MyLife Portal, the councils have been able to significantly increase the number of foster carers and adopters they attract and children they subsequently place.  This transformation has delivered better outcomes for the Children in the area, while at the same time reducing placement costs.

Using the MyLife technology the councils have been able to transform their service and digitise the adoption process. Foster Carers and Adopters can now complete assessment forms online and this feeds through to the case management system of the Social Care department.

The Adoption and Fostering team can share documents and provide updates through the secure portal.  Just through transforming the process and getting rid of paper processes, Birmingham City Council have been able to speed up the registration of Adopters and also save over £60,000 in printing and courier costs.

Councils have been able to transform their processes with event management and booking also being managed online as well.

This is a great example of councils implementing service transformation, rather than just digital status quo.

Example 2: Respite and booking transformed

Herts Care Provider Association (HCPA), Hertfordshire County Council and their Health partners worked together collaboratively on a digital project to deliver true service transformation.

The problem:

They knew there was an issue with getting the best out of their care spaces:

- Hospital bed blocking
- Empty beds and block contracts not being optimally used
- Inefficient processes: a telephone team had called around to find available beds wasting hours each day

The solution:

Instead of simply digitalising the status quo they looked at how they could transform the bed booking process. The solution was co-produced with focus groups made up of members of hospital discharge teams, bed finders, care providers, citizens and carers.  Together, the teams worked out a solution that would transform the process. OLM’s BedFinder was the result of this work.

BedFinder is the Booking.com for care providers

BedFinder users are able to securely access a portal to see up-to-date information on care homes, vacancies and have the ability to easily book them without the wasted time of calling around to every home in the area.

The software saves administration time, simplifies the booking process and helps solve the bed blocking crisis. BedFinder can be used by health, social care and the general public.

Organisations that have implemented the BedFinder software have improved their operating efficiency by more than 50%.

Before you start a digital project;

Don’t just digitalise the status quo

Ask:
1. Have you analysed the current issue
2. How would you want the process to work
3. What technology and process change do you need to make the project a success?

If we all do this, then we will deliver real change in government services rather than just put a tick in the box.