Reality check: home care providers finding it tougher than expected to get tech buy-in

Everyone knows that technology is going to transform the home-based care industry. Right? Remote patient monitoring, family portals to enable constant contact (plus interesting content like exercise videos, recipes, and more), better responsiveness, lower costs — what’s not to llike?

Well, maybe not so fast. As reported here on Lori Orlov’s always-timely blog, the customer isn’t necessarily embracing the new technology as quickly as the providers may wish.

The article quotes Caring Seniors Service COO Jeff Bevis: “We didn’t expect seniors to fully embrace technology, but it was tough. It was a lot tougher than we thought.”

In a predecessor company, Bevis and his team ran a pilot with 300 tablets “for caregivers, clients and their families to create core functionality in the home.” The test was only “semi-successful.”

Bevis said, “We didn’t get the rapid adoption by the clients and the families that we had hoped. We tried to use things like senior fitness, exercise, recipes as well as core communications. We had a family portal where families could use secured care notes. We thought we could build a pretty robust base and draw to those tablets. But we discovered there was a bigger technology aversion than we anticipated.”

The pilot hoped for an uptake of 35% to 40%, but only got 10% to 15%.

In retrospect, Bevis acknowledges “we were truly trying to force too much technology, too fast, into the home setting.”

The article reports on another company, Bedrock Health at Home, that ran into similar problems. But recent programs have been more successful. Companies are improving their communications and training, and being more realistic about expectations, looking at three-to-four year time lines instead of instant adoption.

Three to four years doesn’t seem, to us, to be much of a problem. The issue is not that seniors (particularly SuperAgers) are technopobic, it’s that they are not in love with the tech for its own sake and need to understand both how it operates and what the benefits are. There is no question that tech will transform the home health care industry. But there is a bigger role for communications and training, and understanding the customer, than the technology on its own. Far from being distressed by this report, we’re encouraged that companies seem to be putting the customer more into the picture.

(Photo credit: Metamorworks at iStock by Getty)


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