Laurie Orlov is one of the smarter people in the field of tracking, assessing and predicting what is and will be happening in the area of technology associated with support of our aging population. In here recent newsletter, she writes (among other items):
By the numbers, seniors want to remain at home – but who will provide care? Switzerland has been ranked the number one country for care of the elderly, but the price of dementia care makes some residents leave. And not just from Switzerland. At an average of $41K per year for assisted living in the US, the sale of an average home in the US of $272K does not enable early move-in, especially for a married couple. According to the industry, however, cautious building of new units has kept overall occupancy high at 89%. Besides the cost of residential care, family caregiving is coming under increasing pressure; home care is pricey at $51K/year full time on average (never mind turnover and vetting), and we are headed for trouble from a population perspective – as boomers age, fewer people will be available to provide care. However, home care and home health workers received minimum wage and overtime protection in 2013 and so far, the world did not end.
PREDICTION: Still not much resident-oriented tech deployed in the senior housing industry and no sign that the home care industry is focused on equipping either workers or care recipients with technology in the home. However, we have not seen the true impact of potentially changing Medicare/Medicaid coverage, doctor shortages, or the corresponding demand for low-cost ‘telepresence’ aka remote video consultation either in the home or senior housing – although remote consultation via roaming robots seems to be of interest to rural hospitals. In fact, 2014 may be the year in which all of these trends begin tipping. From a resource perspective — too few medical professionals and too much demand will intersect.
Laurie is, as usual, on target with her observations. Overall, the non-clinical home care industry is not equipping workers or care recipients with tech tools to improve health care. At Support For Home – along with several other companies – we are committed to changing that. Along with Northwestern University School of Medicine and Wellspring, out of Chicago, we have applied for a Medicare Innovation grant to address some of that gap in a new and meaningful way. We should know in a month or two if the grant comes through. Our fingers, toes and eyes are crossed on it. 🙂
As Laurie points out, there are too few medical professionals and too much demand for geriatric health care. Folks in the non-clinical home care industry have a huge role to play in addressing that gap, and we are ready to play it.
Best wishes, Bert