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Tech and the future of care work – five research midpoint observations

The halfway point -- research about Future of Care Work. Each interviewee was asked for thoughts in the context of the categories suggested by ChatGPT and any other categories that will improve the work processes for those in the care-related industries – home care, home healthcare, senior living care (including nursing homes), and hospital discharge processes to any of those. Few conversations focused on ChatGPT – instead it became apparent that innovation, including AI, is underway to optimize care work, focus on the workforce, and help keep care recipients at home:

Insurers see tech innovation one way to avert hospitalizations.   It is no surprise that Medicare Advantage programs and Veterans administration see that technology deployed under the right circumstances can keep individuals safe at home longer. Consider VA Telehealth and DigitalVA.  The cost of hospitalization of a Medicare patient, for example, is around $13,600.  The cost of in-home care, according to Genworth Financial, averages around $5000.  Patient acuity at discharge has risen by 6% -- and referrals can be rejected, keeping people in the hospital longer.

Staffing shortages drive innovation in care work.  CNA staffing is at the heart of care in senior living settings like AL and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF). Efforts are underway to recruit and train CNAs, offer them more respect, higher pay and a path to career growth.

In the meantime…Enter the AI-enabled caregiver. This is increasingly likely as a form of 24x7 remote care. Possibly in a robotic form, like ElliQ, or sensor-based like or Addison Care from Electronic Caregiver.  Or oversight of a care recipient could depend on using one of multiple sensor-based offerings from firms like Medical Guardian or SafelyYou.  

Care coordination is still an untapped opportunity. To date, coordination of care across disparate providers has been elusive – think healthcare, post-acute care, senior living, home care, never mind just among physician providers, even though the same person receives care across all of these. The solution, of course, relies on data sharing among the participating care providers, not apparent today when you see people entering medical offices with disks from other practices. This is despite success at standardizing on single formats for electronic medical records. Moving forward, there is an uphill climb towards interoperability across systems.

The PERS market size presents a sizable and undefined caregiving variable.  Over time, the simple response to a single alert will give way to newer approaches that factor in improving communication among care circle members, as some PERS vendors, such as SilverTree, have attempted. And personalized care plans associated with response systems will increasingly be built on health data, family input and care status changes, as done with CareDaily.


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