Lee Williams, the co-founder and chief technology officer at Radar Healthcare, explains how his business works with home care providers to meet regulatory standards and deliver improved outcomes through one single, easy to use system.
To watch the recording of this interview, click here.
Could you explain, in simple terms, how Radar Healthcare works?
It’s a cloud-based system, so there’s no requirements for any hosting for the actual client. It’s web-based so all you need to access the system is a browser – you don’t need to download an app – and it works for any device, so it’s truly mobile. It covers the main areas that the CQC is looking for and it streamlines the processes that people are doing generally with paper, excel and emails.
So it looks at things like how we manage and how we evidence an incident. If an incident happens, we implement the policy that says what should happen next within the system. The first step is that somebody reports an incident, the second step is there is some kind of investigation, and then there’s some action planning, to make sure the incident doesn’t happen again. Then there’s some learning to make sure lessons are learned and shared throughout the organisation. What we don’t do is say “this is how you should manage an incident”. We have lots of best practice templates that we use, whether it’s for a complaint, freedom of information, or an incident, and we allow our clients to configure the system to meet their procedures and policies.
We then look at how organisations assess themselves against quality frameworks and we allow those audits to run within the system. The key thing that comes out of those audits is that every time a provider can’t fully evidence one of the checks within an audit, they have to create an action plan.
We see that with a lot of clients and a lot of people are generally quite good at doing those audits. What they’re probably not particularly good at is making sure the actions that come out of it are completed. So a big part of the system is action planning. We track CQC improvement actions, health and safety notifications and all of those things to be able to evidence correct procedures.
If you are providing great care, but you can’t evidence that, you might as well not be providing that care.”
Another area of quality and compliance is document management, so how we track our policies and make sure they’re in date and reviewed correctly and, again, that we can evidence all of this. How do we make sure that our workforce is trained and that we’re tracking their compliance against DBS checks – all of those different workforce compliance checks can be done within the system.
And because all of those things can be done within the system, we have analytics that sit over the top of this, so we’re then able to, in real time, look at trends. We’re not looking at trends at the end of the month, when it’s taken time to compile all of that data on excel. By the time you have done that you could have actually made an intervention much earlier. So if you see a trend of falls, you can do something at that point in time – you don’t have to wait. The other thing we look at is risk management, so having a fully defined risk register with controls in place. Tracking that risk and tracking the trend of that risk is something that happens a lot within NHS organisations and larger private organisations, but not so much within the smaller ones.
How specifically do you support home care providers to improve outcomes?
If you think of a home care provider, they’ve obviously got an office somewhere, or multiple offices, depending on the size of the organisation, and they’ve got carers going into people’s homes. So as these carers go out, they might be recording incidents or doing quality audits. All of that comes into the system and then people sat in the office can then manage those processes. So the office staff can say ‘we’ve seen a trend of these types of incidents happening and this is what we’re going to put in place to stop this from happening again.
If you think of somebody who is a branch manager, they will get an oversight of all of that information about their branch, so whether their workforce has all of the checks and training in place that they require, and whether they can see all of the incidents that have happened and the complaints that may be coming in if you’ve then got a head office that sits over all of those branches, they can get an oversight of what’s happening at each branch. They could see a trend happening in one branch and understand why it’s not happening at other branches and what they are doing differently. They can then create actions for all of those other branches to make sure that trend is, or isn’t, happening there, depending on whether it’s good or bad practice.
Could your system potentially be integrated with things like assistive technology?
Yes, definitely. That’s one of the things that we’re currently looking at. There’s also a big push at the moment for IOT devices. One of our key things going forward is how we integrate not just with other systems, but how we integrate with things like IOT devices.
How does Radar Healthcare differ to other home care software solutions on the market?
I think a lot of the other solutions that we come across are focused around recording care notes, or rostering and invoicing. We don’t generally see a lot of systems out there that do the things that we do, so they’re not looking at safety, risk, compliance and quality.
With Radar, we would be looking at whether the care has been delivered, but also whether the quality of care is as expected and whether the quality of the notes that have been created is as expected. So we check the effectiveness of the person that is delivering that care and how they are recording that information. It’s all about evidencing what you do and that’s what the CQC is looking for – evidence that you are providing a safe, well-led service throughout the key lines of enquiry. If you are providing great care, but you can’t evidence that, you might as well not be providing that care.
Which home care providers have you worked with and could you share some real examples of how you’ve helped improve their businesses?
We work with a range of providers, including Claimont Health, which provides mental health support at home. We also work with HRM Healthcare in Scotland; Care South, which provides care at home and operates care homes; and the Guinness Partnership, which has a range of services, including care at home, Extra Care schemes and supported living.
They all have different reasons for using Radar. With Claimont, a lot of their quality and compliance was done using email and excel. So what we did was digitise all of those processes and then, with the analytics that sit over the top of that, it gave them a real-time view. They are a fast-growing company, and what we’re finding is people are putting these systems in place because they’re looking to grow significantly over the next one to two years.
If you are small business and you’re not providing a lot of hours of care, you’re not going to have a lot of items like incidents and complaints. But once you start growing, it becomes much more difficult to manage, and that’s where our system really starts to provide value. And then when you get to the point where you’re getting multiple offices
or branches, you then get that top-down approach, which gives you even more value.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
In terms of how we operate, it has had very little impact because we were always a fairly dynamic company anyway and, although we had an office, and we still have an office, people were never based there 100% of the time. Also, all of our development is done in the UK and 90% of all our development is done in-house.
In terms of our clients, what we had to do was very quickly spin up some new features within the system to help them track COVID, so tracking staff who were symptomatic and those who could get a test – there wasn’t lots of tests around in the early stages of the pandemic. By tracking the whole process, providers could see trends where staff were going to be absent for two weeks because they were isolating, so they could plan ahead.
We also managed to spin up some features to track service users in terms of COVID. Our clients needed to know whether the people that they were supporting had had a positive test or whether they were awaiting a test result, so they could alter the way they delivered their care. Since around November time, it’s been about how we track vaccinations in service users and staff in real time.
Many technology companies have seen a huge uptick in demand from home care providers, particularly since the pandemic. Have you witnessed that as well?
I think it’s really highlighted the benefit of having good technology for any health and social care provider, and any business really. We’re certainly seeing an increase in people that have started to think more about cloud-based systems. There are a lot of systems out there that are not cloud-based and so don’t work well with remote working. With cloud-based systems, you don’t have that overhead of having to have your own servers and you don’t need to manage the servers – we do that, we’re the experts.
What we are also seeing is people looking at how they can integrate systems together. About five years
ago, we were doing integrations for a few of our clients and now around 50% of our clients are understanding the benefits of being able to integrate data.
We can provide a single sign-on into our system, which means that, using an active directory, you can log into the system, so you only have to manage one password. We’re very much in favour of how we join up all of these systems, not just within social care, but with CCGs and trusts.
How have you seen the regulatory landscape evolve since you started the company?
There’s two different areas that I think the CQC has changed. They’re now much more focused on the person that’s receiving the care, so they do a lot more around speaking to the service users and what they think of the service they receive. The second thing we’re seeing is that there is a lot of focus around tech and I think that’s only going to grow. So if I’m a provider, wouldn’t it be great if the CQC could remotely check things like how I manage risk? I could give them access to the system so they wouldn’t have to come in. Wouldn’t it be great if, as soon as a particular type of incident is recorded, that could be sent off to the CQC? Why can’t we do that? It happens with Trusts.
If you are small business and you’re not providing a lot of hours of care, you’re not going to have a lot of incidents and complaints. But once you start growing it becomes much more difficult to manage, and that’s where Radar adds real value.”
In 2019, I went to a Digital Social Care conference and some providers were saying that CQC inspectors still want to see paper records despite all the technology that they’re integrating. Do you think that’s improving now?
I don’t think it happens as much now. I think providers are much more able to say “no, sorry, we’ve got a system here which is much better than paper and we’re going to show you this instead”. There’s no reason why the regulator shouldn’t accept that. Also, one of the big things with a system like ours is that you can’t change data within the system – there is always an audit trail. So if somebody changes something, the system logs that. With paper, that is much more difficult to track. And that data is also much safer sitting in a system behind online protection than it is sat in a folder.
What are your plans for Radar Healthcare post pandemic?
For us, I think it’s all about that whole integrated care piece. I think that, over the next few years, we should be focused on how we integrate care, from primary and secondary care, to care homes, homes care and ambulance services, to make it seamless. There’s been lots of work happening around the shared care record, where home care providers could see GP notes within a system, for example. That would have a massive impact. There’s lots of ways that we can integrate data to make it a much easier ecosystem to manage and make the care better for the person who is receiving it.
I think there’s still a bit of a reluctance to share information, but wouldn’t it be great if you could benchmark your home care business against others? Wouldn’t it be great if you could see a trend happening at other providers so you can then look at your processes to say “can we stop this happening and how will this impact us?” But there needs to be a bit of a mind-set change first.
What are your long-term ambitions for the company?
We’re looking at predictive analytics at the moment. Your standard analytics show that something has happened an hour ago or three to five days ago, and that has shown trends. But, actually, what our analytics will allow you to do is predict what’s going to happen to that trend, based on the data within the system. So if we had data from lots of different providers, we would be able to give a much better prediction because, as with any AI and machine learning, the more data you have the better learning that machine is going to have. Take falls as an example – if we had falls data across a whole region or across the whole of the UK, wouldn’t it be great to be able to predict what will happen in the future based on what’s happening elsewhere?