David Barnes, an Entrepreneur's Organization (EO) member from South Australia, is a co-founder of Anytime Caring, a company that helps the senior community connect with independent care workers. We asked David how technology is impacting senior care. Here's what he had to say:
The age of digital disruption has long been upon us, compelling businesses to innovate constantly. Consumers expect real-time information, mobile access and social media presence. Within organizations, peer-to-peer networks and app-based innovations have led to reduced operating costs and expedited market introductions for new products. Well-established sectors, such as financial services, have been rocked by new and evolving technological innovation, such as lending clubs and peer-to-peer currencies like bitcoin. While earlier generations patronized traditional banks for financial products, digital banking platforms have provided modern alternatives for lending and investment.
As an industry, senior care*, dedicated to providing support for people in their later years, is a relatively late adopter of technology. However, even this sector is now embracing digital innovation. Increasingly, app-based technology and digital options have provided consumers with greater choices at more affordable prices. Success in the senior care industry is now less about adaptation to new trends than it is a process of continuing innovation.
Aging Population Requires Increased Care
Good news: we're living longer! Better nutrition, healthcare and economic advancement have led to a global aging trend. The United Nations reports 12.3 percent of the world's population is over 60, a number that will rise to 22 percent by 2050, significantly increasing the need for caregivers and expanding the opportunities available for those servicing the senior care industry. Innovation is to be expected, given the greater market size, industry competitiveness and increased potential for technological efficiency.
Innovations that Benefit Consumers
Technology is changing how those seeking care interact with companies that provide services. From the initial choice of a caregiver to wearable technology that assists with senior activities and medication reminders, to GPS trackers that locate lost dementia patients, user-friendly gadgets are putting consumers in the driver's seat. Technology platforms also support professionals in the senior care space, allowing direct contact with potential clients, online ranking of expertise and services, and remote training. These new models are dropping the cost of care by up to 50 percent, forcing traditional models of care to adapt--or they will not survive.
Care organizations increasingly use advanced technology to reach out to consumers. New software suites handle customer support and communications. Products provide social media management specifically for the home care space. This streamlines and improves the business-customer relationship, strengthening loyalty and client retention. It also poses a significant challenge to those companies that do not keep up-to-speed with senior care innovations.
Technology Continues to Evolve
Price drops have driven the technological revolution in business. Innovation is no longer the domain of large, rich companies. Technologies that were traditionally prohibitive barriers to forward-thinking strategies are now available to almost everyone. Costs for website hosting, email hosting and online advertising have plummeted thanks to Amazon and Google. Cloud-based providers have taken a chunk out of accounting costs. Even enterprise resource planning systems cost only a fraction of what they once did.
New players in the software industry are working to create customized solutions that use existing applications. Home health care management is now as simple as an integrated group of functions that handle all aspects of the business, including financials, human resources, documentation, client tracking and customer relations.
This flood of new technological solutions in the market means companies will continue to innovate to provide the best products and services possible to the greatest number of clients. Companies that fail to meet consumer demand will suffer declining revenues as the bar is raised by everyday people who want maximum choice, value and quality for a service that goes to the heart of their loved ones' well-being.
*Please note that the author's original terminology was "aged care," the preferred industry term in Australia.