BaptistCare cuts manual data handling, paper processes

Venerable aged-care organisation embraces digital opportunities

BaptistCare is increasingly shifting away from paper-based processes and manual handling of data, with MuleSoft’s integration platform helping provide the scaffolding for its embrace of customer-facing web apps that can feed directly into line of business systems.

BaptistCare has existed for almost three-quarters of a century as a not-for-profit care-based organisation. It operates in two key areas. The first is aged care, which includes residential aged care (nursing homes), ‘BaptistCare At Home’ (in-home care), and retirement living. The other is community service, which includes food support, support for people affected by domestic and family violence, counselling, and community centres.

It operates some 160 different facilities and programs, with around 3500 staff and a thousand volunteers.

Its technology function is mostly in-house, with about three dozen full time employees and typically a handful of contractors. Staff are split between applications and BI, operations , and a business-facing team that includes account management and major project delivery.

Three years ago, BaptistCare put together a new IT strategy, chief information officer Daniel Pettman told Computerworld. At a high level, the strategy emphasised customer experience, attracting and retaining the high-quality employees, and efficiency, including addressing the manual and paper-based processes that remain common among aged-care organisations.

Pettman said the roll out of MuleSoft’s integration platform had helped with the drive to increase efficiency, acting as “glue” across BaptistCare’s four business stream. “Business integration was the strategy tagline and MuleSoft was the underpinning technology that enabled us to do most of that,” he said.

When it came to implementing the new IT strategy, the tech team was faced with addressing the organisation's collection of legacy systems: “Things didn’t have good APIs or weren't mobile-friendly, or were on-premises rather than cloud,” Pettman said. The majority of those systems have since been replaced, and the CIO’s team has built out web apps and implemented a cloud-based CRM system that contains BaptistCare’s master customer records.

The new systems have been built so that BaptistCare can potentially expose APIs to partners, although there is no case for it just yet, the CIO said. “At the moment, we haven't found too many good use cases because the nature of the aged world is that not a lot of people are doing that at the moment; there’s not a lot to integrate with in terms of business to business,” he said.

“But we have built them in readiness for when those systems and the ecosystem matures and we can connect to them,” Pettman added.

The use of MuleSoft to help the move to a more integrated tech stack began with an RFP issued by BaptistCare in 2016. In late 2016/early 2017, the organisation undertook the first project using the platform, connecting a legacy client management system with a more modern API-driven rostering system.

That particular project reflected a broader shift in the home services sector towards consumer-directed care, the CIO said.

“Really that change gave people the ability to choose providers, as opposed to providers choosing them,” Pettman said. As a consequence, BaptistCare was faced with the need for “more modern tools, more advanced tools” and the rollout of web-based applications.

One example of ditching paper and at the same time delivering a user-friendly experience is BatptistCare’s YouChoose site, Pettman said. The system allows people who have never dealt with the organisation previously to enter their personal details and make a guided decision about their care needs.

“With the click of a button, it’ll go straight into our CRM system,” the CIO said. “Once it’s in our CRM system we can give them a call back from our customer engagement centre and get a few more details. They can do a one-click send and it will populate our relevant line of business system. That takes away a lot of double entry, a lot of manual handling and eliminates paper in certain areas of the business.”

“MuleSoft is sitting between those two or three hops from the digital asset people engage through to the line of business systems which service delivery is conducted out of,” Pettman said.

One of BaptistCare’s divisions has already gone from completely paper to an electronic system, he added. The CIO said that he didn’t have a specific target timeline for eliminating paper completely, but the IT team is looking at the “big ticket” items first, replacing legacy systems that don’t have that capability and seeking opportunities to integrate systems in order to help “take out that inter-divisional bureaucracy and manual processing.”

BaptistCare has leant heavily in to cloud, with BI, CRM and three out of four major line of business systems no longer on-premises. “We've got one more to go, in terms of the major architectural pieces, but I think we haven't implemented an on-premises solution on three years,” Pettman said.

Reliability was one factor that led to choosing MuleSoft, the CIO said. “We needed a 24/7 tool because aged care is a 24/7 business — so it needed to be reliable,” Pettman said. He also cited its out-of-the-box connectors as influencing BaptistCare’s decision.

“Our technical people raved about it once they got their hands on it, which is great,” he added. The vendor’s “client-focused” engagement with BaptistCare also played a key role. “We felt they were really engaged in our success,” he said. “We worked directly with them through design, architecture, and then professional services to implement.”

Although the CIO cautions that you can’t make a direct attribution because the IT team has increased its headcount over the years, his team has been able to triple the projects it undertakes every year.

“We certainly have been able to reuse an awful lot of the work we’ve done and it’s certainly sped our cycles up,” he said. “From design to implementation now we’re talking sometimes a month to deliver something significant. That certainly didn't happen previously; we’d often take a quarter or even worse a six-month period to develop some of the stuff we’re churning out in a month now.”

“I think we've taken on a lot more projects than we have previously as well,” he added. “We were doing probably 10 projects a year three years ago, and I'm probably doing about 30 per year now with some kind of integration. We’ve certainly seen that ability to deliver more across the IT department.”

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