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Richard Ellis

We chat to Fiona Hale (Commercial Director of CoolCare) about technology, biggest changes in the last 5 years, what she couldn't do without and her wishes for solving problems with new technology.

Fiona Hale is the Commercial Director of CoolCare, a company specialising in software provision for the care industry. CoolCare is part of the LNT Group which consists of six different companies, four in the care industry and then more surprisingly one in building high performance race cars and another in weather protection in rail and aviation.

Until January of this year Fiona was Head of Communications for the LNT Group. Her focus is now on the latest version of CoolCare software, ensuring the platform leads the way in software provision for the Care Industry by bringing a strong customer focus to product development.

On her role in developing CoolCare 4, Fiona said “When I came on-board in January, I knew I had a choice to make; either reduce the functionality of the product, reduce the quality of the user interface, or invest in more development, which is what we decided to do”.

Fiona tells us she isn’t in a tech role, however as someone heading up a software company we’re not sure we agree! We asked Fiona four questions about the impact of technology on her role.

What has been the biggest change in technology in the last 5 years?

I’d say that there is a common thread across all industries and that is people’s attitude to technology on a day to day basis. What we have come to expect from technology has shifted. The Internet of Things and responsive web design has changed how we use and interact with technology on a fundamental level. Now we can interact across multiple platforms, locations and functions concurrently.

For example, with Care Home admin, we can provide software that can be accessed not just on a desktop, but on mobile and tablet while also enabling a huge variety of data inputs from different people and roles within an organisation. Inputs to a suite of care home software could include clocking-in information, acoustic monitoring, medication recording, nurse calls, virtual notice boards and more. This can all be accessed, input and updated or exported when needed – simultaneously!

User Interface is so important as part of this. A user interface used to be very computer focused in design, now we expect better. Forward thinking companies will design a user interface that is specialised to its purpose and audience. Instead of trying to cover all functions through their product and compromise on usability, they will optimise the UX of the design with the capability to link into other complementary pieces of technology, to provide the user with the flexibility to customise the adoption of different technologies per their needs.

For example, a care home nurse in the field will have very different needs from a care home manager or HR team member using an admin system. Users therefore need a suite of tools that is intuitive and tailored to the needs of the user, which in turn empowers people to use it, rather than a one-size fits all approach that requires everyone to sit through laborious and unnecessary training.

Invite only Talking Tech events

Attendees will learn from one another industry experts (by invite only) on topics around using technology to drive business performance, over lunch in a beautiful setting, hosted by Answer Digital.

What issue can tech now solve that it couldn’t when you started out?

I think the improvement in UI can’t be understated and how this has encouraged a rate of adoption never seen before. Digital tech used to be considered out of reach for many people, now being over 55 or 65 isn’t a barrier to adoption. For example, take Slack (the instant messaging tool), it’s logically intuitive, if you want to implement it, you just go ahead and start using it - you know that it will either be really easy to use or really easy to customise. With our software, CoolCare 3, the feedback has been that it’s very user-friendly, but we know it can still be improved. CoolCare 4 is streets ahead and this is because of user expectation driving product development and our desire to meet and exceed customer expectation.

What do you wish you could solve with new technology?

This is a difficult one to answer as there is so much now that technology can do, there is almost a risk of over-reliance on technology which can exclude the human element. We need to remember that true human reaction can’t be replaced. Technology can provide the tools to perform many human checks and admin tasks. What it can’t replace is the social need that people fulfil, the understanding of facial expressions when someone is talking about their feelings -areas like this are a key part of social care. Technology is best used when it takes away the burden of certain repetitive admin tasks allowing people to become more human when interacting with each other.

What is the most useful bit of tech that you regularly use in your business?

My iPhone! As someone heavily involved in communications, it’s invaluable for keeping track of news, social media, emails, everything really. I use it constantly, possibly too much. When you plan your outfit based on the weather app, rather than what’s happening outside, it’s probably time to take a break from your mobile!

Invite only Talking Tech events

Attendees will learn from one another industry experts (by invite only) on topics around using technology to drive business performance, over lunch in a beautiful setting, hosted by Answer Digital.