Three Benefits of Streamlining the Financial Close in Aged Care

Australia has a global reputation as a nation of surfers and Outback explorers, and all that healthy outdoor living has led to the sixth highest life expectancy in the world[1]. With that increased life expectancy comes a sizeable aged population needing specialized care. Though subsidised by the government, the Australian aged home care sector’s finance teams have been slow to take up process automation, to the detriment of staff retention and the bottom line. In the wake of a Royal Commission highlighting the industry’s funding and staffing crises, we’ve identified three ways you can benefit from streamlining the financial close processes in the aged care industry.

1. Replace Inefficiency with Automation

The home care package waiting list has had a nearly 40% growth since June of 2017[2].

One of the most noticeable ramifications of the mismanaged financial close process is the long wait times for patient care. With low numbers of staff in place to process patient documentation and set up billing, the wait list will only grow longer. Fortunately, many facets of the reconciliation process can be automated for faster processing. Even as payment volume increases with the rise in patient numbers, an automated solution can be scalable with changing conditions.

Furthermore, this status quo is not sustainable for the projected industry growth as the current manual methods do not guarantee visibility into the documentation process. Providers’ finance and accounting (F&A) teams should be able to document every step of the process and just as easily retrieve the records. Spreadsheets and emails, when used to reconcile or research transactions, are not optimally efficient in the documentation procedure. Financial close automation provides easily accessed visibility throughout each stage to spot errors and high-risk accounts, spending energy where it’s needed most.

2. Increase Staff Retention with Technology

In a booming industry such as aged home care—government spending has increased each year since 2012—competition can be fierce as providers work to boost patient numbers[3]. As Australians are living longer, patient numbers may rise naturally, but proper care must still be provided in every aspect of the industry. Instead of focusing their efforts on training, resources and assistance, providers are charging high administrative costs ranging from 20-45%[4]. Conversely, aged home care providers are chronically understaffed, and the workforce would need to triple by 2050 to meet the patient demand[5].

Though F&A professionals may be attracted to a rapidly growing industry, many would be rebuffed by outdated, manual methods. Upgrading to a modern, efficient technology platform such as an automated financial close solution would be an incentive for new hires. Balancing the books and producing financial statements concerned with high volume payment reconciliations through only spreadsheets is a daunting task that few would undertake. Heavy, repetitive workloads can be decreased, and retention increased through employee technology engagement.

A lack of standardized administrative costs imperils proper resource utilization. If those costs can be managed through a streamlined financial close, then the funds can be reallocated. Beyond onboarding hiring costs, turnover itself is costly to the industry’s bottom line. Instead of spending money on inefficient and automatable processes, focus funding on staff that can fill multiple gaps.

3. Realize Short-Term Goals

Simplifying the financial close process starts with providing a quick ROI for F&A teams. An automated solution can have a ROI as short as three months, based on a five-person finance team. With this quick turnaround, you gain greater visibility and control throughout the period. Additionally, that greater visibility builds out your internal and external audit trails—saving you a headache down the line. Aged care has struggled with funding so timely insights into organizational profitability is another benefit of an automated financial close process.

Since aged home care services are, by nature, spread out across multiple locations and necessitate various billing levels, the benefits of a cloud-based financial close solution are numerous. Furthermore, an automated solution brings the flexibility of scalability to the office of finance. A cloud-based automated solution further provides cost reduction and data protection that on-premise cannot guarantee.

How to Advance

For aged home care businesses to sustainably grow and offer specialised services, they must be supported by efficient financial technology. An automated financial close solution can deliver increasing high-volume reconciliations, fast patient turnover, documentation visibility and fast ROI.

To learn more about the benefits of an automated financial close solution, check out our Adra Suite.

Written by: Chelsea Downey

[1] World Health Rankings. (n.d.) Australia: Life Expectancy. Retrieved 22 March 2019, World Life Expectancy.
[2] Martin, L. (30 September 2018) Number of Older Australians Waiting for Home Care Packages Climbs to 121,000. Retrieved 22 March 2019, The Guardian.
[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (22 February 2019) Government Spending on Aged Care. Retrieved 22 March 2019, GEN Aged Care Data.
[4] Brown, B. (21 November 2018) Comparison of Aged Care Costs at Home a Step Closer. Retrieved 22 March 2019, Financial Review.
[5] Dillon, M. (21 February 2019) What Have We Heard at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety So Far?. Retrieved 22 March 2019, ABC News.

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