When I attended the Hurricane Marketing Bootcamp recently, I was struck by how much change had happened in home care in two years! During these two years, the pandemic upended all aspects of our lives. However, one thing didn’t change in home care: caregivers went into clients’ homes to provide the services they depend on. This resilience was made possible by adapting and adopting technology. These changes have made a lasting (and beneficial) impact on most home care agencies.
This was evident as I strolled along the vendor tables between presentations at the bootcamp. I always like to see what’s on offer by vendors. This time, I was struck by how much innovation is happening in home care technology. “Embracing technology is a huge takeaway,” comments Nicole Peretti of Hurricane Marketing. “Home care has always been years behind in terms of technology adoption so the evolution is noteworthy.”
Here’s what attracted my attention.
Better Communication Between Home Care Agencies and Caregivers
It was great to reconnect with Ken Accardi, of Ankota Software, who had invited me to his podcast Homecare Hero podcast last summer. As the need for senior care is growing faster than the workforce, agencies are looking at technology to bridge the gap. For example, a few are looking at ways to blend high tech centralized monitoring combined with a more targeted high-touch (human) care.
Ken sees a desire for all agencies to have better communication tools with their caregivers. They are hungry to connect to reinforce their culture. Many are using texting. “Texting is useful but it can be overwhelming, especially when messages are not coordinated across the agency and caregivers receive too many. They will tune them out,” says Ken.
Better Pricing for Home Care Services
Carl Ryder and Valerie Love, home care owners in Georgia, wanted a consistent pricing process for services. They couldn’t find anything on the market so they created their own app and started a second business: Home Care Quote. “Most agencies price their services when they start services but rarely re-evolve as the need for care changes,” says Carl. “This means that over time agencies do not account for all the services they provide.” With the Home Care Quote app, the plan of care is very specific because it’s based on a detailed assessment of the client’s needs. Agencies who use the pricing app report a 10% increase in revenue. This translates into better compensation for caregivers and sustainable profits for owners. The app is available to clients and families so they become educated consumers when shopping for home care services.
Competition Creates Opportunities For Innovation
Home care agency owner from San Francisco, Kamran Nasser, realized that most visitors to the agency’s website were not staying more than a few seconds. He wanted to create a way to capture their attention longer. He created a human-powered live-chat feature to improve the “stickiness” of visits to the website which is now known as AidQuest. This app is different from the AI-powered bot known as Olivia or Alexa. “This is not a chatbot,” explains Kamran. “It’s powered by humans who engage over chat on the website with prospective clients and caregivers. It has a much more human feel and responsiveness.”
Home Care Agencies Are Increasing Their Pricing
Nicole Peretti highlighted the fact that agencies are finally increasing their pricing. After years of being reluctant to increase their rates, the scarcity of caregivers has forced the change. Agencies have to be competitive on wages to recruit and keep staff. They also want to reward their caregivers, newly recognized as “healthcare heroes,” for their hard work.
Some Are Cautious Regarding Home Care Technology and Caregiver Recruitment
Steve The Hurricane had a more circumspect take on the push for more technology in home care recruitment. “Being solely reliant on tech could harm agencies,” he said. Home care is a high-touch industry. We need to lead with high touch to differentiate ourselves from other agencies. Too much distancing from the workforce could hurt retention as caregivers want to feel they matter as individuals.
For more articles on HR in home care, check out my other blog posts.