In the US alone, healthcare costs reached $2.6 trillion in 2010 of which 75 – 85 percent was spent on chronic condition care. Combine that with increased longevity and a global population of 9.3 billion by 2050 and the worldwide cost to treat the chronically ill and an aging population is staggering.
Perhaps the cloud holds the answer to this looming crisis. As discussed in “How’s your (e)Health these days?”, wireless technology is now able to provide the secure and simple interactions required to connect multiple medical and non-medical monitoring devices to family, caregivers and medical personnel. And interestingly enough, the demographic that are the least tech-savvy, the elderly, will be the immediate beneficiaries from the convergence of technologies that are making home-health monitoring a reliable cost-effective reality.
Seniors and chronically ill remain independent, longer
Today many families are geographically dispersed and the ongoing communication and coordination of routine care that enables seniors and the chronically ill to remain independent suffer from ad-hoc, labor-intensive processes. As many of us have witnessed first-hand, growing older and chronic conditions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, as reported in Healthy Aging, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two.” With baby boomers becoming seniors at a rate of 10,000 per day this fast-growing segment are a driving force to revolutionize the healthcare market and realize the goal of every generation–to successfully age in place.
Home-health monitoring, or eHealth moves routine health monitoring to the comfort of one’s own home. Through web-based monitoring devices, such as cameras, motion detectors and panic buttons, as well as integration to healthcare accessories, including pill dispensers, weight scales, blood pressure readers and glucose monitors, family members can take an active role in the ongoing care of their aging and chronically ill relatives, as well as stay on top of changing conditions through real-time communication with healthcare providers.
Service providers get quick entry to lucrative home health market
Service providers possess a goldmine of natural resources, including their customers, network and data which they can leverage to capitalize on the eHealth opportunity. Already expanding to meet consumer demands for innovative home digital services, eHealth is a natural extension that enables them to take advantage of new business models and revenue streams. By bundling home-health applications with data plans, service providers can showcase high-speed network capabilities and maximize quality of service capabilities. As the market matures the number of health-related accessories and apps will grow exponentially.
Already, in October last year, Amdocs announced, the Amdocs Aging in Place and Home Health Monitoring solutions, which enable service providers to break the technical barriers that have hindered cost-effective entry into this growing market. Designed for fast market entry and easy extensibility, service providers can build service offerings to enable virtually any health accessory to communicate data to a smartphone, tablet or other home gateway via the cloud.
Home health prognosis
There is no question that home-health monitoring is a win-win situation for the elderly and chronically ill. From retaining independence to lower-cost healthcare, the benefits are already there and will continue to multiply as new apps, services and devices are launched. With a wide-open playing field the opportunities for service providers to expand their role, develop new partnerships and move up the value chain are great. The question is not whether service providers will benefit, but which ones will get the biggest piece of the eHealth pie.