First steps in aged care gateway initiative

The federal government has issued a request for tender for contact centre services as the first step in its $198 million aged care gateway plan.

The aged care gateway aims to create an entry point for the aged care system and enable timely and reliable information to be accessed by older people, their families and carers.

A key element of the gateway is a new My Aged Care website, which will consolidate information on ageing and aged care services. This will eventually include quality indicators and a rating system for aged care services.

Approved providers will be required to publish accommodation payment prices, to be charged from July 1 next year, in materials provided to prospective residents, on their own website and on the My Aged Care website from April 1, 2014.

The gateway plan will also include the introduction of a central client record, which will be required to interoperate with existing government services and ICT systems.

According to a recent communique by the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA), the Department of Health and Ageing plans for the central client record to contain personal and demographic information, carer and representative details, authority to share information, referral records and assessment history. It will also include information on approvals and eligibility for services.

According to the communique, NACA's aged care gateway advisory group stressed the need to include advanced care directives and pharmacy information in the client record, along with alerts and emergency contacts and a separate record for the carer that is linked to the client’s record.

It also stressed the need for an integrated IT system to support the record so aged care providers don't have to manually upload information, and that it was a critical imperative that the record could link to or be a part of the PCEHR.

At an industry briefing on the request for tender was held late last year by Healthdirect Australia, which manages the government's after hours GP helpline and the pregnancy, birth and baby helpline, along with the National Health Services Directory. Healthdirect Australia will be in charge of developing and managing the My Aged Care website and the sourcing and procurement of contact centre services.

The government's current Aged Care Australia website will be decommissioned following the introduction of the My Aged Care website. The current national number for information on aged care, 1800 200 422, will be used by the aged care gateway’s national contact centre.

The gateway will also include an assessment capability to identify needs based on a nationally consistent assessment framework and standardised tools, and a linking service to identify and support older vulnerable people with multiple needs and assist them to access appropriate care and services in and beyond aged care.

Healthdirect Australia released a request for tender for the contact centre on January 23 through Tenderlink, and it will also be publicly advertised.

According to the briefing notes, the contact centre “will be required to utilise and integrate with a Commonwealth, core ICT system to support delivery of Aged Care Gateway services”.

"All aspects of the operation, including staff and ICT infrastructure, must be based and provided in Australia. The contact centre will handle enquiries management, initial client screening, registration, referral and activity management."

Healthdirect Australia expects the contact centre to receive an estimated 2.2 million calls over three years, along with 1.2 million pieces of correspondence.

An information session is scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, with tenders closing on February 12. The vendor is expected to be selected in early March, with both the contact centre and My Aged Care website to go live on July 1.

Posted in Aged Care

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