As I was exploring all the (many!) Bluetooth and Internet-enabled health products on display at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, it occurred to me that they could be an incredible asset in boosting market acceptance of continuing care at home.
Continuing care at home (also known as CCaH) has become a hot topic in Life Plan Community board rooms. Whereas there were only six CCaH programs nationwide before 2010, there are now at least 35, with several more in the planning process. Yet many of these programs have experienced significantly slower rates of growth than expected.
Why is growth slow? There are many potential reasons (which Love & Company will explore further in a proprietary research study this year; stay tuned!).
In most markets, it is a new product that prospects have no prior experience with, and thus have a limited understanding of the benefits. Not only that, but it is a product that does not even have a consistent product category name with which to establish national awareness. For example, it is referred to as continuing care at home, lifecare at home, lifecare without walls, plus many other names created by individual providers. Third, the product category names that do exist all suffer from similar challenges as “continuing care retirement community,” which was rebranded to become Life Plan Community a few years ago. We really aren’t selling “care.” Care is something that comes much later. What we are selling is a proactive approach to staying healthy that is designed to minimize the need for advanced care in the future. So a coordinated national branding effort could be quite beneficial.
But the bottom line is the bottom line: Consumers are not perceiving value in the CCaH product as currently positioned and priced. And that’s where technology can help communicate the “keeping you well” part of the message.
- We can set each member up with their own iPad and health tracking account.
- We can provide an Amazon Echo (“Alexa”), which can provide reminders to take their blood pressure or medications.
- Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs can capture and track blood pressure over time.
- Bluetooth enabled scales can track weight gain or loss.
- Bathroom sensors can detect potential urinary infections.
- Sleep sensors can detect changes in sleep patterns.
- Members can get regular reports on their health, with suggestions to explore potential issues with a physician.
- Telemedicine doctors and mental health professionals (Doctors on Demand) can provide face-to-face consultations via the iPad.
These are just a few of the technologies available for adaptation into a CCaH program; there are many more. Are they expensive? Let’s put that question in perspective. Most CCaH programs already ask for entrance fees ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. An additional $2,000 to $3,000 to cover an investment in technology does not change the cost side of the equation significantly, but it could provide a significant increase in perceived value.
In fact, Wellzesta, a technology firm focused on increasing engagement in wellness activities in Life Plan Communities, is actively increasing technological value in senior living organizations today. According to Kyle Robinson, a partner in Wellzesta, “Senior living organizations are well-poised to move from housing and healthcare to become premier integrated wellness providers. By utilizing technology, you capture real-time, personalized health and wellness data, as opposed to periodic health assessments. You can also offer automated, connected service delivery, in contrast to cumbersome manual service coordination. The efficiency of time, precision insights to make sense of the data, and the ability to centralize information dramatically strengthens the impact we can have on well-being. Capturing biometric data related to physical health is just the tip of the iceberg—the real value is using technology to bring wellness resources to the individual.”
Of course, you may ask, “Do seniors really want this?” In one educational session at CES, the presenters shared research results that showed that 56% of seniors surveyed said they were interested in using digital tools to monitor and help address health issues.
Have you tried integrating technology into your CCaH program? If so, let us know. We’d love to help make this product a major success for the senior living field.