Mobility as an Enabler in Homecare
In US, Homecare is a $75 Billion market and currently is growing at close to 4%. The National Health spends only about 3% towards homecare.
Industry growth is primarily due to an aging population. Increasing chronic diseases makes it more prevalent for an increased acceptance of homecare by the physicians.
Let me define what kinds of companies are classified under the Homecare segment.
Companies in Homecare industry primarily provide care services at home. These services may be medical or nonmedical and include skilled-nursing care, personal care, homemaker and companion services, physical therapy and medical social services. This industry also includes in-home hospice care providers. The market is still fragmented as although there are big players in the market there is no company which has a majority of the market share.
Traditionally, Homecare has been perceived to be a more blue-collared, labour-intensive, manual and services driven industry. But, with limited resources available to meet up the voluminous growing demand in the Homecare industry, there’s an imperative need to increase investments in building technology led solutions, that can perhaps, become a game changer industry solution. Technological advancements in Homecare will lead to a more efficiency, reduced manpower costs thereby making services more affordable for consumers.
The next question is how is technology going to help?
Technology can help the people using the homecare service immeasurably. It can not only reduce the cost impact on the patients, but can also help in being an enabler for their services.
To quote a basic example: a mobility driven platform can help alert the nurses/caretakers about the need for the patients rather than making themselves available 24 x 7.
Technology (especially mobility) can also help in effective monitoring & reporting of the problems. Caretakers can make a note of all the patients’ medical readings on a mobile or a tablet and notify the doctors accordingly. This will give real-time information to the doctors and help them make decisions quickly. So if used effectively Mobility in homecare can be lifesaving.
Who are the Users to Such Technology Solutions?
The mobile technology can have a huge impact on the overall customer experience in the Homecare industry. Enterprises can use mobility based solutions to : manage the time of the nurses more effectively, provide better services to patients by providing replacements in case of absenteeism , have a more productive and efficient force of care takers.
Mobility in Homecare could also help improve top line and bottom-line via Referral & Rewards System on Mobile platforms.
Such solutions can help optimize with: Better connectivity with the physicians, get more referrals caretakers & help reward physicians with referrals.
The varied versions of the EMR systems which are used across these organizations can also be connected to the mobile devices for physicians to view the patient’s data whenever needed on real time basis.
These are some of the many possibilities which can be explored by the Caretakers organizations to embrace the use of mobility related technologies.
Consumer apps can also have a niche in the Homecare segment. However, for consumer apps to be successful these have to be promoted aggressively by the Homecare companies.
Key Success Factors
The low penetration of mobility apps in the homecare segment provides a range of opportunity for the homecare companies to promote the apps which are useful as there is less clutter.
Affordable: For any technology to succeed, it has to be quite affordable for the end users. As manpower cost is getting prohibitive, technology investments although may be high initially but most likely pay off in a short time. The return of investment is positive.
High actionable impact: The mobile solutions that are targeted to be used by the end users should make a real and actionable impact on the user’s life. The technology would have only half the impact if the use of technology is just for monitoring. The monitoring technology along with actionable feedback which can be used by the patients in real time can give a significant benefit. Like, in case of emergencies, the solution should be able to trigger an actionable output either for a hospital or for caretaker to act on.
Real time action: The mobile technology which is being used by the patients should have enablers built in for prompt action by the support staff. This can be built using a combination of sending push notifications, setting off beep alarms on the master devices used by caretakers or hospital staff. If the technology is not enabled for prompt action, the loss may be huge.
Usability: The current breed of mobile devices is immensely popular because of the array of user friendly options provided to the users. If the apps have to be successful in the Homecare environment, immense focus should be given to the user friendly aspects. We know that most of the patients using Homecare services are senior citizens. Although some of them are comfortable using the mobile phones, majority still limit mobile phones for calls and texts. It is hence critical for the app developers/app companies to create apps which are user friendly for the older generation so that they are able to achieve their goal.
Challenges in the growth of Mobility in Homecare companies
There are certain challenges that the industry is expected to face in spite of the increased smartphone and tablet penetration. One of them is the limited spend by the public or private industry in home care. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that they expect paring down of approx. $40 billion from federal home-health-care reimbursements over the next decade. This will have an impact as the homecare providers might have to change their models a little and may also decrease the technology spend.
The Second important challenge faced by the Homecare industry is fraud. The amount the companies have lost due to fraud run, range into 50 billion dollars in a fiscal year. Mechanisms would be needed to detect the fraud and some kind of intelligent database can be built for fraud warnings so that the fraud is detected early.
Third challenge faced would be compliance. Privacy and security compliance on account of HIPAA regulations for the solutions being used or proposed to be developed for these organizations would make these organizations incur a significant cost. The companies would also need to make sure the solutions they are selecting meets these regulations in order to save them from litigation costs later.
The market today has a huge potential in the mobility sector in Homecare. With the smart devices now being used everywhere, the companies now need to tap the same by making smart investments at this stage. Mobility as an enabler in home medical care service can help provide best quality Healthcare Services for patients with limited mobility and busy schedules, and also help them save the money and time associated with going to a hospital.
Over 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. Tablet users spend 50% more than PC users. & 95% of smartphone users have searched for local info.
Mobility has already proved to be an enabler in various fields. Investment in mobility for homecare sector would be a great indication as this will definitely harvest great returns in the long run.
Author : Vibhor Gupta, VP-Global PreSales
Email : email@example.com
As Vice President of Global PreSales, Vibhor heads the RFP management practice for the mid to large size bids from Saxon Global. Vibhor is responsible for setting up the RFP process and post selection helps the team in making the solution presentation to the client.
Vibhor holds an MBA in Marketing from Indian School Of Business and B.Tech in Electrical Engg. from IIT Varanasi. He has an entrepreneurship experience of 5 years having co-founded Wit Innovation Technologies where he was managing the client relationships and the pre-sales function. Vibhor also has corporate experience of 8 years prior to being a co-founder, working with IT giants like Wipro, Cognizant and Infosys in various capacities and domains including Financial Services & Oil & Gas. He has been a guest speaker at Carnegie Mellon University where he spoke to students about the Mobile Apps Economy.