PHARMACY

Integrated home care for seniors, caregivers

BY Jim Frederick

The explosive growth in the at-risk elderly population has spawned a corresponding explosion in the number of baby boomers who find themselves caring for aging parents. In response, start-up companies have sprung up offering new services and solutions to help these caregivers help their parents remain independent, mobile and in their own homes as long as possible.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

One such innovator is Honor, which launched in 2015 to bring new solutions within the expanding $30 billion to $40 billion home care industry. “Honor was created to provide nonmedical home care for patients as they age in place,” said Kelsey Mellard, who leads health system integration efforts for the San Francisco-based start-up. Honor uses a mobile app to help consumers source trained, technology-enabled caregivers who go into seniors’ homes to supplement the care provided by family members.

“We market to adult children with aging parents,” Mellard said. “We get a lot of seniors using the service because they realize their daily living activities are starting to deteriorate.”

Much of Honor’s client base is direct-to-consumer, “engaging them in the community as people transition out of the hospital and back home,” she explained. “But we also have partnerships with local hospitals and health plans.”

The goal is to link Honor’s home care providers with other members of an integrated care team. “We provide care notes back on a real-time basis, not only to the adult child, … but also with any of the referring providers,” Mellard said. “So we’re creating a virtual community of caregivers around the client, but also a virtual community with the care professionals. That allows us to create really personalized care services.”

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PHARMACY

Prime role for health technology is helping seniors stay independent

BY Jim Frederick

Helping seniors stay “active, mobile and independent” is the prime mission for GreatCall, a San-Diego-based provider of independent-living tools for elderly Americans and their caregivers.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

GreatCall CEO David Inns explained, “provides technology and services to keep older consumers safe and independent in their homes longer.” Through products like the Jitterbug smartphone, a Jitterbug urgent-response flip phone, and a line of mobile and wearable devices, the company links at-home seniors with 24/7 access to physicians and registered nurses, helps with medication adherence and refills, easily links to family and friends, and offers an urgent-response service for emergencies.

“All those services generate … data about the overall well-being of the senior,” Inns said. “So we know how much they exercise, leave the house, make it to the doc on time, etc. We can take that data, analyze it and present it back to family caregivers.”

“If that info could be easily linked through a pharmacy system, it would increase adoption … immensely, and increase the accuracy of the system,” he added.

However, Inns said it’s vital to provide support to seniors using new health and communications technology. “An AARP study showed that among seniors who had started using a FitBit, more than half of them stopped using it within the first few weeks … because that experience was designed for a 20- to 30-year-old fitness buff, not for a 72-year-old woman who just needs it to track exercise and wellness. So that’s a really important part of creating value in this health ecosystem.”

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Watson Health: Transforming care with data, ‘cognitive insights’

BY Jim Frederick

Today’s health system is saddled with stark challenges, including runaway costs, exploding demand for services and huge gaps in the quality of care and in the sharing of patient records, treatment options, health risk factors and other data. Meeting those challenges will require all health and wellness stakeholders — including retailers — to build a data-driven “ecosystem” that engages patients and gives doctors, pharmacists, clinicians and health plan payers the cognitive tools they need to make better decisions, said Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, VP of partnerships and solutions at IBM Watson Health.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

This recently launched IBM subsidiary has set an ambitious agenda. “Our vision is to improve and save lives around the world, and reduce the cost of health care through the power of cognitive insights,” McGroddy-Goetz told the panel on retail health and technology. “So we’re working to develop both the technology and business platform to convene a healthcare ecosystem … to transform the industry.”

Watson Health will leverage IBM’s powerful data-gathering and processing capabilities to “bring together individual, clinical, research and social data from a diverse range of health sources, creating a secure cloud-based, data-sharing hub, powered by one of the most advanced cognitive and analytic technologies.”

With the population aging rapidly and millions of boomers thrust into the role of caregiver, the need to advance decision-making and connectivity within this ecosystem is critical, McGroddy-Goetz said. For health retailers, she added, “it’s about … trying to leverage all these different kinds of data and knowledge sources to drive insights” about the needs and behavior of seniors and their caregivers.

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