In 2021, we saw widespread market adoption of innovative care approaches that brought healthcare to the home. This shift, driven primarily by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has shown all of us as consumers how to access care at home – much like we do at home or shop.
The rise in telemedicine use and the implementation of Hospital at Home programs have proven successful in improving outcomes, increasing hospital capacity, ensuring patient safety, and reducing costs.
In the midst of this shift to home care, payers and providers are increasingly collaborating with solutions to extend care beyond the traditional setting. SCAN Group, which also includes SCAN Health Plan, made a strategic investment in MedArrive (Disclosure: MedArrive is a portfolio company of 7wireVenture.), Humana invested $ 100 million in Heal and Kaiser Permanente, and Mayo Clinic invested $ 100 million Dollars in Medically Home.
Traditional consumer technology players like Amazon and Best Buy have also entered the market – proof of the possibilities of bringing healthcare into the home.
While the industry’s current approach to home care was critical to improving access during the COVID-19 pandemic, many solutions today are merely aimed at emulating the home hospital visit. Such solutions fail to take into account the immense opportunities created by moving care outside the four walls of a hospital, as well as the opportunities to solve key problems plaguing our healthcare system today – rising costs, an aging population, the burden on nursing staff, and scarcity of service providers, to name a few.
Such challenges will only add to the current burden on our health system. Given rising health care costs and visits to the emergency room, the annual 32 billion focus on home services.
In addition, one in five US residents will be of retirement age by 2030, and 87% of older adults would like to age with the assistance of a local caregiver. Home care will be of paramount importance in the years to come in order to scale health care resources and caregiver skills as the industry handles the influx of consumers who will need more intense and attentive care in 2022 and beyond.
With reports predicting 124,000 more doctors needed by 2034 and a predicted shortage of registered nurses that will worsen as baby boomers get older, virtual solutions that bring health care into the home can help conserve resources to scale the provider and to enable new personnel models, such as coaching models, peer consultants or trained community members.
To meet the growing need for home care, providers, payers and investors will seek innovative solutions that combine technology and humanity to scale our clinical workforce holistically to preventive health and solutions that provide consumers with actionable information to improve health .
Marry technology and human touch
Digital solutions offer an immense opportunity to expand accessibility and capacities for care by relocating care at home, but digital solutions alone are not the solution. The industry must look for new models of care that combine both technology and humanity in a scalable way.
This includes instant access to human support when and where consumers want it, seamless access to specialists, virtual or at home, and the ability to train caregivers. Such an approach also offers opportunities for imaging, laboratory testing, and more that can be done at home.
Don’t just focus on health care or chronic care management, but also on holistic health care
Imagine if your bed could keep track of how you sleep, or your refrigerator could recommend healthy meals based on what you bought at the grocery store. Since much of our health is determined outside of traditional healthcare, real home care should not be defined by the reactive care we often receive.
Instead, preventive care should be a part of the home experience so that consumers are empowered to be proactive. This includes solutions that build trust by using data to connect with consumers based on their personal preferences and that are not intrusive – there when consumers need it, not when they don’t.
Equip consumers with actionable information to improve health
Consumers are inundated with information throughout the day – email, SMS, messages, and data from a portable device. While the shift to home care gives consumers the opportunity to access critical health data in real time and gain insights into the impact of their daily choices on their health, consumers need more information, and not just for the sake of information.
Instead, home care solutions must be action-oriented and seamlessly provide consumers or caregivers with specific steps to improve their health. Information should enable consumers to self-manage their care and be bound by health outcomes that can be noted for both the patient and the general health system. This includes not only cost savings or reductions in resumption, but also a higher quality of life for the consumer.
Although COVID-19 has created new opportunities for home care, the real value will come from innovative solutions that go beyond replicating the traditional hospital visit and instead take into account the immense opportunities created by moving care outside the four walls of the traditional hospital setting develop.
Solutions should unlock the emerging power of technology and data, and empower all of us, as consumers, with the knowledge and resources to take better care of our own health.
Robert Garber is a partner at 7wireVentures, where his focus is on investing in companies that empower consumers to better protect their health.
He has over 30 years of investing, advising, and operating early-stage healthcare and technology companies and has co-managed four venture funds with more than $ 400 million in assets under management. Prior to joining 7wireVentures, Robert was Managing Director at Stratus Ventures and KB Partners, where he led early stage investments in healthcare and technology companies.
Prior to this, Robert held key management positions for three high-growth companies, where he led operations, business development and finance in the e-commerce and software industries.
Robert earned a Masters of Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.