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Why aged care must digitise

Why aged care must digitise

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (Royal Commission) recommended that every approved provider of aged care (whether delivering personal or clinical care) adopts a digital care management system, including an electronic medication management system, and that this should be an ‘immediate focus’ (Recommendation 68 of the Final Report). The Federal Government accepted this recommendation, with the aim to implement an electronic residential medication chart by June 2023, and support the adoption of My Health Record (which is to be included in the new Aged Care Act).

Information provides the gateway to safe, quality and effective care. Without information, we cannot understand our consumers’ needs (or wants), and at times this might even be the difference between life and death. The accessibility of information is not only critical to support effective transitions and continuity of care, but also enables clinical data insights that can support decision-making, reduce risk and enable more efficient and effective delivery of care and services to residents. Therefore, how we record and share information (and what we record and share) is critical to good clinical governance.

The evidence in the Royal Commission was that the aged care sector still relies on traditional methods of information exchange such as faxing, scanning, or mailing – which are not only error-prone but are resource-intensive, inefficient and limiting. 

Since good information is essential to good clinical governance, and with the need to strengthen the latter identified by the Royal Commission, we also need to continually improve how we collect, access, and manage information. Providers, therefore, need a reliable, integrated source of information. However, this must support safe, effective person-centred care, as a primary focus - rather than regulation, accreditation or funding.

Implementing a digital care management system 

Digital records can improve care coordination and mitigate the risk of errors – however, they are not risk-free, so such risks must also be understood and managed. Implementing this type of system, therefore, requires an understanding of clinical governance in and around the system, as well as data governance - not simply to minimise risk, but more importantly, to improve care. 

A digital care management system must also be appropriate and applicable to the needs of your consumers, and to your workforce who must operate it – remembering that the capabilities and comfort of your workforce in adapting to a new system and way of working may vary, and adequate time and training must be invested into supporting them through the transition.  

In addition, there is a need to manage consumer trust through robust protections – the expectation of a person’s privacy and confidentiality is pivotal to the therapeutic relationship.

A good digital care management system will enhance consumer care through the ‘golden chalice’ that is information, provided it is designed and implemented through a clinical governance lens.   

You can learn the foundations of clinical governance through our Clinical Governance online course.

All accessed on 19/6/22:

Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect, Vol. 1.  Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, 26 February 2021.  Accessed at:

‘A Reminder – For The Record’.  AICG, 20 February 2022.  Accessed at:

M. Tan. ‘Beware the digital dinosaur’.  Published on LinkedIn, 17 June 2022. Accessed at:

‘Improving documentation at transitions of care for complex patients’.  Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.  Accessed at: Improving documentation at transitions of care for complex patients | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 

M. Wright.  ‘Continuity of care’.  Australian Journal of General Practice, Vol 47, Issue 10, October 2018.  doi: 10.31128/AJGP-08-18-4674. Accessed at: 

M. Tan. ‘The Devil’s in the Data’. The Australian Ageing Agenda, May-Jun 22, p.40.

Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect, Vol. 3A. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, 26 February 2021.  Accessed at:

K. Bail and D. Gibson.  ‘Aged care: put your data where the care is’.  MJA Insightplus, 7 June 2021. Accessed at:

Electronic health records.  Australian Government Department of Health.  Accessed at: 

Talking HealthTech Episode 192 – ‘Clinical governance at the interface of health, law and digitisation’, Dr Melanie Tan.  Talking Health Tech, 18 November 2021. Accessed at:

R. Charette.  ‘Australians Say No Thanks to Electronic Health Records’.  IEEE Spectrum, 27 July 2018. Accessed on 19/6/22 at: