(“Community Insights” are articles by members of the Techonomy community, contributing to the ongoing dialogue that is our raison d’être.)
One of the key criteria for the company I co-founded was to look a human in the eye and know we were going to make their life fundamentally better. We started Honor with the mission to care for our parents. We are doing that by significantly remaking the customer experience in non-medical home care.
This starts with a focus on building technology and a new business model that empowers humans – the care professionals we refer to as Care Pros. They care for our parents every day in what can often be very trying circumstances. We believe that by caring for our Care Pros, they will be able to deliver the best high-quality care to our clients.
As our loved ones get older, they need to be able to get dressed, prepare food, and get around. If they can’t do those things, they can’t live in their own home without help. Home care is a $30 billion industry in America. There are an estimated 2.5 million paid care professionals. But, we will soon need twice as many, because the population of people 65 and over will double in the next 20 years. The problem is that the industry is broken, and we have a shortage of these important workers. This is in part because care professionals are treated poorly. Wages are so low that 56% are on government assistance. As a society we have put care professionals in a place where they can’t care for themselves. How can they provide great care, if they can’t provide for themselves?
This is where technology comes into play. It can elevate the role of professional caregivers and empower them to build stable careers.
Honor’s technology platform leverages machine learning to uniquely match a care professional’s skills with the needs of specific clients. A client’s profile will include details including care needs and things like whether or not he or she has a cat. The software will then only match a client to Care Pros who have skills matching his or her needs and no allergy to cats.
Smart matching is made even more effective by the Care Pro app. It helps caregivers manage their schedule, learn about a client’s needs, share notes about each visit, and even check out and navigate to the next appointment. The client or authorized family member can access and share those care notes and provide feedback. This clarity and efficiency offers much-greater transparency than is typical among caregiving companies. More importantly, the technology puts the care professionals into situations where they are likely to succeed. No one wants to be set up for failure in their jobs. If Care Pros are matched with customers whose needs match their capabilities, then everyone wins.
Technology also drives down Honor’s operating costs. That helps push pay for Honor Care Pros at least 10% higher than average in our current markets–the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Since launching the service in 2015, caregivers have responded to these changes. The turnover rate with Honor is significantly lower than the industry average. This is an encouraging result that confirms the value of investing in tech tools to help this group of workers thrive.
Technology can also be used to deliver training and care guidance. Care Pros have the ability to execute a wellness check using the Honor app on their phone, so the client’s family can share the resulting information with their loved one’s physician. The National Parkinson Foundation, American Cancer Society, and the Alzheimer’s Association see the value of this specialized approach to care and are working with Honor to deliver their expertise into homes through the Care Pro app. This helps Care Pros improve their skills and their pay, even as the role they play in the healthcare ecosystem becomes more evident.
We hear a lot about how advances in technology or changes in business models take away jobs. But Honor’s technology is creating more opportunities and better jobs for people who want to provide high-quality care in an area where our country badly needs them. And while the tech may be impressive, we believe the Care Pros are the real “product” of the company. They are the stars. They work with our engineers to continually improve the tech’s capabilities. They are the ones providing a great and new experience for clients. Technology is giving these important workers respect and recognition for the critical role they play in caring for aging Americans.
Seth Sternberg is CEO of Honor and a serial entrepreneur. He will be speaking at the Techonomy Health conference in NYC on May 16.