Saga Healthcare Disrupts Established Homecare Market
- The UK’s leading elder advocate expands from offering financial services, insurance, and travel, to offering high-quality home healthcare.
- Built SACHA, a caregiver-to-patient tool, automatically scheduling caregivers to patients, increasing scheduling efficiency by 10x.
When a company launches a new line of business in an established market, its leaders know they have something of value to bring those customers. Their intent is to upset the status quo, often by establishing a new standard of quality. That’s exactly what Saga did when it established a home health care service for the over-50 population.
Today, Saga is one of the leading home care agencies in the UK, thanks to the company’s decades-old reputation for customer service, combined with its ability to disrupt the market with cutting-edge technology.
Saga started in 1951 as a travel company. It has since grown into an award-winning business providing a variety of products, including insurance and financial services for the over-50 population. Throughout the years, Saga has stayed true to its mission: “To help our customers lead the life they want to lead.”
In order to succeed in their mission, Saga understood that the most important thing to do was to listen to their customers. By doing that, they could truly understand them and provide the services their customers would need to live the lives they want to live.
It’s because of this unwavering commitment to its customers that Saga decided to offer home health care services. The company knew it was entering a mature — and crowded — market, but executives were confident that its existing reputation for customer service could help the company bring a new standard of care that was desperately needed. Saga also understood the valuable role of technology to help make this happen. In addition to differentiating Saga from other health care providers that hadn’t yet embraced technology, an agile technology platform would enable the company to respond quickly to an evolving industry and changing customer needs.
Meeting the technical challenge
The Saga IT team sought an application that would serve as the foundation for its home health care service. They needed a cost-efficient technology that would allow them to provide customers flexible pricing and let them tap into and equip a community of caregivers eager to deliver quality care when customers needed it.
“We wanted bleeding-edge technology that would create competitive advantages for Saga,” says John Cahill, Managing Director of Saga Retirement Villages and Director of Operations at Saga Health Care.
The Saga IT team received estimates for the desired home-care scheduling system, only to find that it would cost £12 million and three years to build. The resulting delay in the company’s ability to recover costs could sabotage the new line of business. In addition to lost opportunity cost, the team would lack the ability to quickly make changes to the application to support business changes and customer demands.
A mandate from Saga’s CEO, Lance Batchelor, encouraged automation across the business, inspiring unconventional thinking that drove consideration of low-code development tools, specifically Mendix.
Realizing time and opportunity costs savings with Mendix
Using Mendix, the Saga IT team was able to build SACHA, a care-at-home scheduling system, in just six months — and for less than £250,000. In addition to incredible cost and time savings, the use of Mendix bought Saga more than two years in-market with a brand-new line of business. “Our ability to make quick changes and roll out new technology with Mendix is enabling us to rapidly grow the business across the UK. That’s the biggest benefit Mendix gives us,” says Matt Smith, head of Saga Healthcare’s IT Team.
“We looked to Mendix to quickly innovate and deliver a system that would change the way home healthcare services are delivered. The application we built automates as many of the manual tasks as possible, so we can lower costs while freeing up our people to deliver the personal care we’re known for,” Smith says.
In addition to those savings, Saga realized from building SACHA in-house, Mendix empowers the Saga IT team to take control of future technological innovations. “With a low-code development tool like Mendix, you can easily build expertise within your own IT department, and from there the power to develop and innovate is in your hands,” says Smith. “You’re not reliant on a third party or bound by their cost or timeframes.”
Leading the market as IT innovators
The business side of Saga has also embraced Mendix and is reinvesting the cost savings it delivered. “Mendix brings ideas from the rest of the business, because they have confidence that our IT is stable,” Smith states. “The investment’s there to be able to branch out and create different functionality and enhancements to our business.”
For example, Saga is planning to deliver offline capabilities so that caregivers can enter data from a customer’s residence regardless of whether or not they have internet access. When caregivers regain connectivity, the information would automatically be loaded into SACHA.
Saga is planning to deliver new features and functionality that will ensure the company maintains its market leadership through continued technological innovation. The IT team is looking at building a customer portal that will allow customers’ friends or relatives to check on them. There’s even the opportunity to incorporate the Internet of Things, thanks to a built-in integration in Mendix. Sensors in the patient’s home could continuously monitor the patient and send that data back to the portal.
“We’re tapping into the Mendix technology to provide customers with cutting-edge technology and improved service. That’s what’s helping us to be a leader in this space,” Smith says.
With Mendix, Saga has built itself a solid foundation from which it can continue to grow as IT innovators in the UK home healthcare market. But more importantly, by delivering a new standard in home health care, Saga is fulfilling its mission to enable its customers “to live the lives they want to live.”