For this ‘Company in the Spotlight’ Bram Kaashoek, Managing Director Market Intelligence & Performance Improvement at Main, talks to Albert Winter. Albert is the CEO of Alfa eCare: a solutions provider in the public and healthcare sector in the Nordics.
Alfa is active in the public and health market, driving digitalization of care processes: how does COVID-19 impact the work processes of your customers?
”COVID-19 impacts the work processes and lives of our customers, care professionals and patients extremely – as it is doing broadly in society. Our products are used by private and public care providers, including elderly and home care. Since the elderly belong to the group of most vulnerable ones when it comes to Corona, physical care cannot always be provided. In the past months we noticed 3 major effects on our customers:
First of all, an increased need to further digitize the way how their jobs are done. For example, we have a product, SignIt, which records via an app which medication should be taken by which patient and which care has been provided. This makes paper checklists obsolete, leading to a more robust and safer work process.
A second effect is that it’s harder to really plan care interventions. Most older people obviously enjoy seeing the same caregiver regularly. We make this possible with our solution PlanIt. In recent months, however, we saw that those schedules were more difficult to make. After all, healthcare providers are also confronted with staff who got infected with corona.
In the third place: extreme workload for nursing staff. Implementing our solutions and digitizing work processes in healthcare leads to efficiency. Nevertheless, in order to work properly with our solutions, healthcare professionals must be trained. If you have filled out all kinds of checklists on paper for years, it takes some getting used to doing that via the web or on an app from now on. At Alfa we therefore usually spend a lot of time on training and behavioral change. Due to Corona there has been very little time for this.”
What did Alfa do in order to support customers and professionals in the care market best in these challenging times?
”We have tried to help our customers as best as we ca n and do our part. Where possible, we have enabled social distancing, through our apps. We have also helped our customers with advice and online support. In addition, COVID-19 made us realize that there are many more societal use cases that we could support with technology.”
Did you also change the way how Alfa operates?
”Within Alfa, we partly switched to working remotely. That was accepted fairly quickly and is going well. We have teams that worked closely together and that cooperation has remained close.
We are also in the middle of a business transformation: a few months ago Joliv was added to the Alfa Group. It’s not ideal to run a merger of two companies in these times, but things are going surprisingly well. Our management teams have met several times physically and we have a virtual management meeting every week.
There are 3 factors that ensure that we are on the right track with that integration: Alfa and Joliv have the same strategy and vision on how we want to make a social impact. We have a clear purpose together. Secondly, the corporate culture is similar. In the third place, there is an Add-on Integration Playbook (see also the article by Christiaan in this newsletter) from Main. This offers a lot of guidance and gives practical tips.”
How do you look at the future?
”Nobody knows how things will go with Corona and when a solution is offered. I do expect that if the situation normalizes, digitalization within healthcare institutions will accelerate. We are happy to contribute to this with our solutions, change programs and software development.
For example, I believe that digital surveillance will be more accepted in elderly and home care. Today, private healthcare providers only receive payment after there has been physical contact with a patient in a lot of cases. Some patients don’t want or need that, but in fact they do want to be able to pass on that they are okay; their children and other relatives want to know that too. We are therefore now actively exploring partnerships with hardware suppliers of Internet-of-Things (IoT); sensors that can report activity or an event. We do not build hardware ourselves, but we do support work processes with software in healthcare. We may therefore be able to add value quickly through a partnership; value for our customers, but primarily for those in need of care.”