Apply online: How My Aged Care made the complex simple [DRAFT]





Project Overview

‘Apply online’ is an eligibility screening and application for assessment service within My Aged Care. Prior to this project, customers couldn’t apply online. Criteria and processes were too complex and professional assistance was needed to complete the needs-based eligibility check. This provided a real barrier for many users to access the services that they needed. Our challenge was to turn the complexities of that manually guided process into an interactive process.

We broke these barriers. Now older Australians or their loved ones can check if they are eligible and complete an application online. Designed through rigorous human-centred design the new service is making it easier for all Australians to access aged care in a way that’s intuitive, supportive and engaging.

Project Commissioner

Australian Government Department of Health

Project Creator

Liquid Interactive


Creating a new service that connects across Government to thousands of service providers took the collaborative efforts of the Australian Government Department of Health, Liquid Interactive, Gaia Resources, Bastion Insights and many other specialists.

Project Brief

Until January 2020, applying for an aged care assessment, and finding out if you’re even eligible to apply for one, was a complex process. The service was primarily delivered over the phone because the criteria and processes were too complex, and most people needed professional assistance to complete the needs-based eligibility check. This was time-consuming for the contact centre and frustrating for many customers, with each phone call taking up to 45 minutes. It was especially challenging for people with hearing and speech impairments.

Customer research and feedback showed that users expected—unsurprisingly—to be able to apply online. To meet customer expectations as well as meet security, privacy, usability and accessibility requirements, we needed to overhaul the whole process. It wasn’t just a matter of taking the questions from the phone screening or the Make a referral tool (which health professionals largely use) and putting them online. We had to make sure that we were gathering the right information from users for the digital format.

Our challenge was to turn the complexities of a manually guided process into an interactive experience. To do this, we started by asking questions like:
* How can we ease the burden on the user?
* Where might someone experience doubt, and how can we alleviate that?
* How can we inform without overwhelming?

Project Need

We spoke with users and call centre staff, and we sat in on support calls to understand the problems people face and identify the key pain points. Customers from all backgrounds, needs and locations were involved in the co-design process to ensure the solution would meet everyone’s needs. Together with Australians across the country, we explored:
* customer needs and emotions at this point in their journey, including alleviating doubt
* simplifying the process, including letting customers know quickly if they weren’t eligible
* comprehension around eligibility criteria
* benefits versus complexity of adding representatives
* granular usability design patterns and content to help users complete an application

We considered everything from capturing communication preferences, to help arranging the assessment, to the visual cues required to support comprehension. It was particularly important we got it right for customers with hearing or language issues who had previously been uncomfortable or had difficulties calling the contact centre.

Using a human-centred design approach, we were able to reduce friction and ensure an experience that is supportive, engaging, and respectful of the user’s time, attention, and emotional wellbeing. From discovery to build, we co-designed the digital service to be easy to use, easy to understand, quick to complete, and seamless.

User Experience

Apply online works as an eligibility screening and application for assessment service on the My Aged Care website. Now older Australians or their loved ones can check if they are eligible and apply online. They can even set up a representative at the same time, if they wish to. And the whole process takes no more than 15 minutes.

The service provides multiple approaches aimed at helping people build understanding and take action. Much of it involves a strategic layering of information, along with specialised tools like the Fee Estimator and the Make a Referral feature for health specialists.

Apply online is making it easier for all Australians to access aged care in a way that’s intuitive, supportive, and engaging.

Project Marketing

Since its launch in late January 2020, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Take-up of the tool was immediate, with an average of 12,000 customers using the service each month, and over 25,000 successful applications between January and October 2020.

Typically taking 10-15 minutes to complete, customers are finding it very convenient, and the feedback has been consistently positive, with a 90% customer satisfaction rate. It’s also delivering efficiency benefits to the government by reducing demands on trained staff.

“So much easier to do online rather than my elderly parents trying to understand and hear someone over the phone.”

"Being hard of hearing it was much more convenient to use an online service rather than the telephone."

“The questions were easy to follow and understood. It made submitting the application easy and not overwhelming.”

"Easy and clear questions. Easy setting up my son as a representative."

Project Privacy

Being a government website, we have a rigorous approach to privacy and security. A plain language privacy statement can be found at https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/privacy

With this expanded feature, by enabling end-users to submit requests for assessment, we had to handle sensitive patient information, but not store it on the website.

To enable this information transfer from the My Aged Care website to the patient referral database (CRM), we had to develop a highly secure information transfer protocol. We architected a solution using a where referral data from the website was sent to external APIs using a SOAP protocol. This was then ingested and processed in the CRM.

To ensure the security of this process, we engaged a third party independent provider to perform a vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. Our solution was assessed to be secure and met all Government information security standards including passing IRAP accreditation from the DoH’s information security advisor.

This can be any expanded existing service or application from a new initiative or internal startup to an established department. We're not just after bells and whistles, but true innovation that exceeds expectations and fills a previously unmet need. in all categories with updates and developments that truly enhance the user experience and take your app or service to another level.
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