Digital health is not reaching most seniors.
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Vendors should seek geriatric care managers (GCMs) as a marketing channel
I am fortunate to have a paper copy of 'Inside GCM' in front of me (related website is caremanager.org) -- the publication of the "National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers" (NAPGCM). Geriatric care managers are typically trained and certified in coordinating care needs of seniors, referred by MDs or engaged by family members, particularly in long-distance care situations. They can be drawn from fields like social work, nursing, occupational therapy or other specialties. Practices can employ multiple GCMs and can be quite lucrative businesses. So why does this matter to vendors?
In the magazine is an article about how Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) can more effectively market their businesses to the community. So here's my question for today:
Why don't vendors do a better job of marketing to GCMs?The GCM profession is 25 years old -- from the date when 'when 100 pioneering care managers met in New York City.' Today, there are 2000 members of the NAPGCM organization, 2095 profiled on GilbertGuide, perhaps a total of 7000 as mentioned in a NY Times profile last year. With the fastest growing age segment in the US as 85+, with seniors staying put in their homes, let's recognize that geriatric care management is a growing profession, even (or especially) in an economic slump. Today this professions is bolstered with NAPGCM certifications, graduate certifications and master's degree programs from schools like San Francisco State and University of Florida.
In this issue of 'Inside GCM', there was a great article about 'Pharmacology Issues Among Geriatric Clients' by Brian Wolstenholme, a board-certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) that dealt with the plethora of issues that can lead to 'medication non-adherence', the new term replacing 'medication noncompliance', apparently to reflect the rights of individuals to refuse medications. [An aside -- the article noted that the elderly consume 34% of all prescription medications.] And at the end of an issue list, 'forgetfulness' is briefly noted, and the possible need for a medication reminder system, where the reader is sent to an online distributor, epill.com. No mention on that site of MedSignals, EMMA, or OnTimeRx, to name a few.
Which brings me to a couple of points:
GCMs are a referral channel for numerous senior-related services. Although 7000 may not seem like a large market, GCM access is many times that number, due to their role as a coordinator of delivery of appropriate senior-related services. This includes (or should include) legal, financial, technical, care, health-related, assistive devices, social, pharma consulting, and on and on. Vendors need to educate themselves about this important referral channel. "Inside GCM" accepts vendor advertising, according to their headquarters in Tucson, AZ, see contact info on caremanager.org.
GCMs needs information about products and services for their clients. There is no way that GCMs can be expected to stay current on new technologies without guidance. Training programs use textbooks -- like Cathy Jo Cress's Care Managers: Working with the Aging Family that reference technology's usefulness, especially in helping family members with care issues -- but certification requirements do not include that content.
Guides for GCMs about products and service are both feasible and useful. Beyond these soon-to-be-obsolete textbooks, GCMs would benefit from brochures and guides that they can use with their clients. Vendors should consider partnering with other synergistic vendors to produce such a brochure -- for example: "Communication tools to connect clients and family members" could include video, computer, amplified telephone, etc. Medication management for GCM clients is another category, Fitness is another.
Next time I am lucky enough to read through an issue of Inside GCM, or read of an event, hopefully vendors of technology will be well-represented who can help GCMs improve care for seniors.
NOTE: Just to be clear, I don't sell ads for this magazine, get no kickbacks, have no conflicts of interest related, and I am NOT the right contact person for a list of magazines. This post is about the need to educate.