Earlier this year my sister and I joined 40 million other Americans when we were suddenly thrust into the role of unpaid caregivers. We began to navigate the complicated web of the healthcare and support services for our parents. We encountered a fragmented system with confusing and often times conflicting information, limited tech support and the inability to effectively manage care from a distance.
The number of Americans 65+ is expected to top 70 million by 2030 according to US Census Bureau. Almost 90% of this senior population desires to age in place and the caregiving marketplace will continue to explode up to an estimated $280 billion opportunity over the next few years. Home health aid is one of the fastest growing job categories in the country as greater support is required for older adults to remain at home.
Yet for families seeking home care, a confusing array of choices exists with over 12,000 agencies and 400,000 homecare practioners in the United States. Care capabilities vary substantially across providers and the process of selecting home care is challenging. Couple that with the need for transportation and balancing the demands of providing care becomes even more complicated.
Enter the “SilverTech” Marketplace.
Solutions for seniors, families and their caregivers.
Technology is already changing many aspects of our lives from food delivery to money management to wellness monitoring. Absent however are integrated solutions for home care, transportation and caregiving of older adults.
Many health systems have identified door-through-door services as an important need for elderly patients who have difficulty getting to appointments. A recent Community Transportation Association of America paper suggests nearly 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care because they lack appropriate transportation to their appointments. Synergistic partnerships are leading to greater options for caregiving including the recent announcement by ride-hailing app Lyft and on-demand caregiving start-up CareLinx to make sure the elderly can always get a lift with CareRide.
Disrupters in home care also include companies such as Honor. Honor leverages technology as an enabler to facilitate the human element of selecting a care giver and providing a better care experience, both for the care worker and the care recipient. Honor connects homecare professionals with clients based on their individual needs and remote family members can monitor who’s coming when.
While home care has the potential of being a lucrative market, as evidenced by investors deploying almost $200 million into various home care companies in the last two years, it is not without its challenges. HomeHero, a non-medical home care start-up, recently announced that it was ceasing operations. Kyle Hill, HomeHero CEO and cofounder, explained that “this is also an industry built on relationships at a hyper-local level, which is not exactly the M.O. of startups. And since 2013, the industry moved from lightly regulated to heavily regulated, making the economics challenging for any company with huge growth expectations.”
As my sister and I grew increasingly frustrated over our ability to identify trusted home care, facilitate transportation for our parents, and monitor from another city, peace of mind escaped us. Yet an AARP Caregiving study found that technology that offers peace of mind is what caregivers want most! The study demonstrates that with many participants in the circle of care, caregivers seek integrated, multifaceted platforms that help them coordinate tasks and selectively disseminate information. Moreover, the 50+ population receives care from millions of caregivers under age 50 (Gen X and Millennials), who embrace technology even more than the 50+.
While technology can disrupt the industry, a complete integrated, seamless solution is lacking. And though recent developments are promising, there is no substitute for the human touch. The reality, however, for millions of American caregivers, is that is not always possible. Therefore peace of mind technology solutions will alleviate the burden of navigating the complex web of care and enable the ecosystem of caregiving to better serve the needs of the future of aging.