Survey: Half of aging in place seniors believe wearables will improve home care

By Jonah Comstock
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Many current users of senior home care (either seniors receiving home care or loved ones arranging it) see technology, including wearables and mobile devices, as possible cures for the industry’s biggest challenges.

In a survey of 250 home care users, conducted by home care startup HHAeXchange, respondents were mostly happy with their home care, giving it an average score of 7.7 out of 10. But they were also concerned about two major things: fraud and abuse, which 30 percent cited as a concern, and lack of support in an emergency, which concerned 48 percent of respondents.

“Perhaps more than any other area of healthcare, the home care industry suffers from disjointed and disconnected communication, which limits the quality of care delivered,” Greg Strobel, president of HHAeXchange, said in a statement. “Before we can improve member care, we must first understand what’s currently happening, and where gaps exist that can be improved upon by the home care community. Our survey gives payers and providers in home care powerful insight into how they can ensure program integrity and implement technology to improve care delivery.”

Home care fraud and abuse can happen when a care provider doesn’t accurately report hours spent with the person they’re meant to be caring for. It’s a big enough problem that a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act requires the use of electronic visit verification technology to ameliorate it.

Respondents to HHAeXchange’s survey saw other ways technology could address fraud, waste, and abuse concerns. For instance, 48.7 percent predicted that wearables would be used in the future to monitor providers and make sure they are billing hours accurately. In general, using technology to make it easier for the children and loved ones of those in home care to keep a closer eye on them could make it harder to get away with fraud.

A full 88 percent of respondents said they would value access to an online or mobile app providing information about their loved one’s home care visits. About three quarters of respondents said they would pay a premium for that access and 33.8 percent said they would pay more than $25. In addition, 87 percent of respondents said they would be able to answer three to five questions on a tablet after each visit.

Respondents were asked about other areas of home care where they predicted wearables playing a role in the future: 52 percent said they could alert home care providers about unusual changes in activity level, heart rate, or temperature; 50.2 percent saw value in reminding providers about things like appointments, prescriptions, and meal times; 39.8 thought wearables would be impactful by sending real-time alerts from a home care agency to a member or their emergency contact; and 39 percent hoped wearables could diagnose potential ailments in home care recipients. Overall, two thirds said wearables would be an important part of the future of home care.