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2017 Tech-Enabled Home Care Report: Rising worker scarcity, family expectations

Why does tech-enabled home care show potential? Growing life expectancy and shrinking assets limit options of older adults in late life, leaving those who may need care more likely to receive it at home. The biggest constraint for this industry is scarcity of willing workers. Although a greater role for technology is envisioned by many, the highly fragmented home care industry has made incremental progress in achieving it.  As the industry matures, standard practices and tech-enablement have begun to take shape. With the coming age wave, venture capitalists have been intrigued and funding has exploded, exceeding $200 million by 2016 year end. 

Home care can fill some of the care gap, but there are no single provider offerings. The home care industry is both booming and fragmented -- it still lacks a dominant industry player. In a study released in December 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the compound annual growth rate for home care services, particularly personal care aides, between 2014 and 2024 would be nearly five percent, the highest among all industries.[i] Compare the number of workers that provide direct care (home health aides and personal care aides) to retail – these jobs are low-paying at approximately $11/hour and most would say the work is physically more difficult than other low-paying categories.

What tech innovations are likely to matter? Tech-enabled innovations can be categorized as helping firms source effectively, manage for retention and provide measurable value. The future of tech-enabled home care will present opportunities and challenges, both for new entrants and long-time players. Checklists, wearables and sensors will help raise the standard of care delivery; worker certification, information and tools will become service differentiators; contracted partnerships will smooth discharge-to-homecare processes. 

Professionals and families will gain better tools and experiences.  With greater longevity comes care complexity. Agencies have tended to bring on resources and equipment to meet every type of need, whether it is staffing a nurse for care assessments or home medical equipment for training staff on its use. Franchises will join together in geographic clusters to leverage what they have – and what they need, supported by tech platforms.  And family expectations will continue to rise to match levels of service experiences in other areas of their lives.


Great post. As you know, I would add updating mobility/transferring aids for those in wheelchairs or who use walkers and canes. For far too long, innovative design was discouraged since patients and families were relegated to the "cheapest" products via Medicare/insurance coverage determinations. Now, as we focus on FUNCTIONAL INDEPENDENCE, there will be growing demand for such assistive equipment to be easier to use, more attractive in appearance. That in turn, presents a real opportunity to work with the technology world to embed sensors for remote patient monitoring, capturing important use data that can be used for clinical evaluation/assessment for changes in health status. Win-win-win-win for (1) patients/family caregivers; (2) the health system seeking to reduce re-admissions/ED visits; (3) the HME sector; and (4) the tech sector. Good old American ingenuity

Health care connectivity software like MyHomeReach from HealthComms is one excellent way to lessen the burden on existing care givers...smart, efficient and delivers results

Care consumers can only spend so much time each day doing ADLs and IADLs. The longer the caregiver's shift, the less care productive they are. They become domestic servants. Their actual care productivity is diluted with menial unskilled tasks and idle time.  They often become care-sitters and are valued as such.

Making more funding available for in-home care, creating service delivery channels, requiring certifications, and creating marketplaces won’t improve caregiver productivity. It may be necessary to differentiate In-home medical care from other in-home care services and address them accordingly.

Tech-enabling the future of in-home care requires digital care consumers connected in a digital care service network that enables the integrated use of personal care information, collaborative care communication, care automation, telecare and other scalable care power tools. With a care network, all services from all sources useful for in-home care can be made accessible to the consumer to organize as components in a personal in-home virtual assisted living system.

Does anyone familiar with technology really envision a future without a well-functioning digital care network? We need it now and by design as shared infrastructure, rather than trying to react in “evolutionary” time.

Meanwhile, we may want to consider implementing a care labor retention/induction barrier along our southern border, at least until care labor supply and demand stabilizes.

This a great report. Thank you very much.

 Having been the main home caregiver for my mother for 4 years before she passed away, I can appreciate the use of various technologies, and I did use several basics to that effect. However, I fail to see the where the humanity of providing a familial, loving and comfortable environment lies in being fully technology integrated, especially with elders who have limited and sometimes no understanding of technology. Our parents provided us with the loving, family-centered human touch as we grew up to become adults. Is this report/paper saying that we would minimize that human touch and transfer the contact to technology? How can technology still be used as a support and helper while still having a loving, comfortable, and family oriented environment where our elders, our parents, can keep their independence, dignity, and involvement as much as at all possible.

This report touches mostly on care delivery but just to the elder segment. I like the references to remote sensor monitoring, telehealth video calls, big data analytics & trend spotting, and centralized care coordination through some sort of physician dashboard. The advice I’d give developers is to expand the target market, just as the Universal Design concept has done. The home care concept, and each of the technologies, can apply just as well to moms caring for children or healthy workers caring for themselves. 

As Moore’s Law enabled medical devices to keep getting cheaper, smaller, more accurate and easier to use, many more functions once associated with doctors in clinics and hospitals will move down-market to nurse practitioners, aides, and consumers at home. And I think this will happen a lot faster than most people can imagine

Foreseeably speaking, some trends in Laurie’s report of shrinking financial assets and workforce scarcity can provide several aging home dwellers with fewer options should they need institutionalized care in the later years of life. 

Even though the evolving futuristic landscape of home health has some uncertainties, one agreeable constant is technology will play a holistic integrative role when more clinical treatment options are transplanted to a homebound environment. 

If so, adequate training of all clinical staff and caregivers can become another overwhelming task when keeping pace with the accelerated growth of technology, but the importance of integrating family members in the care experience can give relatives peace of mind when a real life 84-year-old Uncle Theodore is slow to bounce back after a recent bout of pneumonia. 

I’ll leave Laurie’s discussion featured, so more interested group members can read this intriguing article…

Very interesting, as you say, limited workers, so technology appears to be the way to progress, no matter what country we live in.

Thank you for posting your 2017 Aging in Home report. For two years I have felt that my industry is stuck in a political quagmire that has completely lost sight of the patient. Your forecast for the future of aging in place inspired me, gave me hope, and nudged me right out my funk. I believe that Home Care is the best way to provide for the aging Boomer population and I am once again ready to fight for what makes what we do great. 

There is lots of room for tech health care and it can help keep folks home for a longer period of time but it will not replace the need for human resources. There still needs to be much focus on bringing those numbers up!

The full history of a very-short-lived company -- given lots of money.