As we look towards 2018 in the homecare sector, we see a global market filled with opportunity and growth. That doesn’t mean that homecare providers will get to rest on their laurels as the industry continues to be beset by caregiver shortages, shifting funding models, and an overall empowerment by clients to receive care on their terms (and their schedule).
We work in many jurisdictions around the world, and sit at the table with homecare executives across Canada, the US, Australia, and the Middle East. Almost every one of our partners is facing caregiver shortages in their local market.
Employee retention thus becomes ever more paramount. Increasing the pressure on providers is a steady drumbeat of pressure towards self-directed care models; from Consumer Directed Care in Australia, to the expansion of Direct Funding in Ontario, to CDPAP in NY State.
Even in the private pay market, we are seeing a shift in consumer expectations. In the age of Uber, Amazon, and Netflix, consumers are expecting to get the care that they want, when they want it. In 2018, the care recipient will be more empowered to dictate the terms of their care than ever before in modern history.
These two trends are particularly opposed because in most markets we see a fundamental mismatch in the temporal supply and demand curves for homecare. The demand for homecare services tends to peak in the morning (7am to 10am) and then again in the late afternoon.
On the supply side, caregivers want to work contiguous shifts, making matching a split demand particularly challenging. Evenings and weekends present similar challenges. We believe that 2018 will see an increase in variable pricing, and the price mechanism is the classical way to shift not only supply, but also shape demand. In more places around the world, we will start seeing 9am visits cost more (and pay more) than visits at noon.
The other technology whose time has finally come in homecare is Schedule & Route Optimization. This promises to bring some relief to agencies grappling with the challenges of matching demand with supply. Caregivers crisscrossing the city between visits wastes capacity and frustrates care workers at a time when agencies need to be working harder to retain them.
In 2018, you will see more agencies express care needs to their software tools as preferred time windows and will allow optimization algorithms suggest caregiver matches and timing of the visits so as to minimize travel time and maximize continuous shifts.
For example, instead of guaranteeing that Jennifer will be Mr. Smith's caregiver at 9am on Monday, a caregiver to be determined will arrive between 9am and 10am on Monday. This model allows for the greatest flexibility for the homecare agency.
Homecare agencies can also breath a sign of relief as the drumbeat of decamillion dollar funding announcements for start-ups seeking to Uber-ize homecare fades. With the highly visible failure of Home Hero in February of 2017, well documented in this article: There is No Magic in Venture Backed Home Care, Silicon Valley financiers have come to realize that there are no shortcuts in the people business of delivering great care.
We at AlayaCare are re-enforced in our view that the future belongs to homecare agencies who leverage great technology to achieve better outcomes for patients and staff.