Silicon Valley see older people and home care as a big new market
Summary: Silicon Valley investors and entreprenaurs are backing a new home healthcare system. Will we see growth in this market in the UK?
Someone in a large UK tech company said to me recently that the reason there was so little attention to the role of tech in ageing better was that older people weren't seen as a significant market.
Unfortunately most of the charitable ageing industry is also fairly uninterested in tech - including, so far, the Centre for Ageing Better. As I reported here, their current strategy has no mention of tech.
At the root of Honor is an online marketplace. Caregivers will be able to list their qualifications, skills, hours they’re able to work and distances they’re willing travel. Seniors will specify the type of help they need, the hours they want and important personal details — that they only speak Mandarin, or that they have cats, or that they live in a multi-story unit. Honor will match caregivers and seniors accordingly, with final approval of the match in the hands of the seniors and their families.
>Honor will also give seniors a custom-built, easy-to-use touchscreen appliance where they will be able to update caregivers on any changes in their needs or condition, so the caregivers will be better prepared when they walk in the door. The devices will also be used to record what services seniors received and for how long, and to allow them to rate the quality of care. Authorized relatives will have access to the information, so they’ll be able to monitor the situation.
The aim is to pay caregivers a higher wage than average, and develop employee profiles and training developed by Apple stores creator Ron Johnson.
I should think that once the system is in place, there will be scope for introducing more personal health technology. As Helen Cherry said at a recent digital health and care event, we could do with the equivalent of Apple Store Genius Bars to help people use the apps available on smartphones.
The US Honor system, and HomeTouch, are both examples of the business model developed by Uber, Airbnb and others that create systems that connect clients and service providers directly, with minimum middle management (and reduced costs). Of course there are potential issues around fair wages and quality control, but clearly there is a market emerging.
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