Aging in Place: The Digital Home Health Boom
As marketing manager for Home Controls, I have been helping custom electronics professionals promote their automation, networking and security businesses. I talk about branding, web presence, marketing materials, social media, networking, training and referrals. In the past few years, I have also been encouraging our dealers to expand into the aging-in-place market by offering digital home health systems.
Why? That's a good question. If you don't know much about the aging-in-place market, then you can argue that creating a dynamic home theater system, complex security system or elaborate home network is drastically different than creating an environment suitable for a loved one who is striving to live independently as they grow older. From my perspective, however, your knowledge and experience as a custom electronics professional is ideal to enter this new and growing market.
Here's why you should consider adding home health tech to your business portfolio.
As the housing market is shrinking—along with a lot of the custom electronic businesses—the senior population is booming. The numbers are staggering.
"Between 2010 and 2050, the United States is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population," the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. "In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, more than double its projected population of 40.2 million in 2010."
There were 35 million seniors in 2000. That number grew to more than 40 million in a decade. In the next two decades, by 2030, that number will skyrocket to 70 million, and up to around 88.5 million by 2050. An extended outlook projects that there will be 1 million people older than 100 years of age by 2050.
This increase can be attributed to the Baby Boomer population coming of age this year. According to the Pew Research Center, Boomers are turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 people every day—a rate that will continue for the next two decades!
The population that provides personal and medical care to this aging population is just as impressive. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimate that 29 percent of Americans are caregivers. That's an additional 44 million people that can benefit from digital home health technology.
Also enticing is that demographics are easily defined. Trying to find a prospective client who wants a cool theater system or a state-of-the-art automated home is a challenging marketing task. By comparison, an aging-in-place market can be targeted by age, location, gender, income, ethnicity and more. And even if your marketing efforts are not too refined, your message will still be heard by a great number of prospective clients—either the seniors or those who care for them.
If you are an expert at installing an automation, security, entertainment or networking system, then you are going to be an expert with home health devices. Most systems are easy to install and even easier to operate. Most manufacturers provide some form of training assistance, and a lot of that training also includes a strong marketing foundation.
"Every dealer knows that who they buy from is as important as what they buy. This goes double for companies selling home health technology solutions," said Peter Radsliff of Presto, maker of a computerless email printer specifically for seniors, and chairman of Aging Technology Alliance (AgeTek). "The maturity and value of a supplier can also be gauged by how much support they provide to a dealer in terms of sales and marketing support. While it is not a manufacturer's job to sell to the dealer's customers, providing tools, materials and training to help the dealer be successful is their job."
Laura Mitchell of GrandCare Systems, an elaborate communication and monitoring system for caregivers, agrees and says to also look for the same relationship and support for your distribution network.
Home Controls officially launched its Home Health Tech division this year; however, we've been promoting the independent living benefits of consumer electronics for almost a decade. Chances are, you are too—but might not even know it.
If you do any type of lighting control, security, access control, perimeter sensors, intercoms, automated blinds or remote-controlled doors and windows, for example, you are already selling digital home health devices.
Access controllers help people struggling with arthritis. Perimeter sensors can be used to notify family and caregivers when a loved one unexpectedly wanders out. Automated and remote-controlled blinds, doors and windows assist those with limited mobility. The list goes on and on, providing assistance for people with visual, dexterity, hearing and other age-related conditions.
The health care industry is looking to you to step up, get involved and provide the needed technical expertise. There is no other industry remotely close to what you have to offer. CR
As a professional businessperson, you need to consider the financial considerations. Yes, you can make money in the digital home health market. Good money. Recurring money.
"Dealers can usually expect recurring revenues from remote home-monitoring systems in exchange for providing full-service customer support and system maintenance," Mitchell from GrandCare said.
GrandCare and Presto both offer recurring revenue. So does Halo Monitoring (a fall detection system), MedMinder (a medication compliance device), Lok8u (a GPS watch) and several personal emergency-response systems like Linear and LogicMark, just to name a few more.
"Many solutions carry the possibility of recurring revenue, either from the manufacturer or by the retailer as part of a dealer-offered bundle," Radsliff said. "Choosing these products and services carefully can not only greatly enhance the brand of a dealer, but it can create a financially significant annuity that will pay dividends for years to come."
"It's possible for a dealer to get into the business without a huge capital investment and then put all of their invested time and effort into sales and marketing," Radsliff said.
From market to dealership opportunities, from products to income potential, the aging-in-place market is growing. If you want to grow with it, start now and watch your business boom.
Jonathan Young is the marketing manager for Home Controls, Inc., a stocking distributor for home automation and digital home health care products. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience as a reporter, columnist and editor, Young has been a member of the Home Controls, Inc. marketing team for the past decade, providing assistance, training and materials to dealers interested in this market.