Opportunities in Home Care, a Growth Area
Smart homes that monitor their inhabitants’ health, sleepwear that monitors patients’ vital signs, and artificial intelligence programs able to prevent both mental and physical diseases. The future of healthcare is trending towards taking people out of hospitals and bringing care to them in their own homes.
Glimpses of this could be seen in one of the latest CES editions in Las Vegas, when Japanese housing construction group Sekisui House showed its new “Platform House Concept” that allows seniors to live independently while being monitored to detect illnesses or health issues. Developed with scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sekisui House uses ceiling sensors to check a person’s heartbeat. If the person has a heart attack, the house will call for help and open the doors after verifying that an emergency team has arrived.
Another Japanese startup presented its “e-skin” pajamas, designed to monitor the vital signs of seniors discreetly using artificial intelligence. They look like normal pajamas, but the sensors analyze vital signs and sleep conditions, and detect falls.
Another portable device for seniors is a wristwatch monitor from US company CarePredict that can allow their loved ones to track activities such as food and sleep before their vital signs indicate problems.
Population aging is a demographic trend affecting both Europe and Latin America, and has a significant impact on a country’s health expenditure. As the proportion of elderly people increases in a population, demand for health care and long-term care services increases.
The figures reflect the demographic situation in Europe and Latin America, where population aging is a reality and poses challenges and opportunities in health care, senior care, and other services related to active and healthy aging:
- According to the European Commission, roughly 30% of the European population will be 65 years or older by 2050.
- In some European countries, the proportion of people over the age of 65 is even higher. For example, in Italy and Germany, it is estimated that more than 20% of the population is already 65 or older.
- Life expectancy in Europe has also risen. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), life expectancy at birth in the European region is approximately 81 years.
- The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects that the proportion of people over 60 in Latin America and the Caribbean will reach 25% of the total population by the year 2050.
- Some Latin American countries are experiencing rapid population aging. For example, in Chile and Uruguay, it is estimated that more than 20% of the population is already aged 60 or older.
- Life expectancy in Latin America has also risen in recent decades. According to the WHO, life expectancy at birth in the region varies between countries, but generally stands at around 75–80 years.
How population aging affects health expenditure
Population aging brings with it an increase in health costs, representing a challenge for health systems and public policy. This is why countries are adopting appropriate strategies and policies to address these challenges in order to ensure financial sustainability and quality of health care for the elderly population.
The effects of population aging on the health sector are as follows:
- Higher prevalence of chronic diseases. With population aging there is an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders. These diseases usually require long-term management and treatment, which increases health care costs.
- Higher demand for health care services. As people age they are more likely to require health care and long-term care. This includes regular medical visits, hospitalizations, medication, physical and occupational therapies, and other related services. The increased demand for these services means increased health expenditure.
- Senior care. Population aging is also accompanied by an increase in the need for senior care, whether through nursing homes, home care, or care provided by relatives. Senior care may be expensive, particularly in situations requiring specialized and long-term treatment.
- Pressure on health systems and social security systems. Population aging puts pressure on a country’s health and social security systems. Extra resources are needed to ensure adequate and sustainable care for the elderly population. This may include aspects such as infrastructure investment, personnel training, and preventative health care and health promotion programs.
Home care, a growth field
The home health care market has seen significant growth worldwide as a result of population aging and the demand for in-home health care services. What follows is an overview of the size of the home health care market globally, in Europe, and in Latin America:
Global market for home health care:
Home health care market in Europe:
Home health care market in Latin America:
The market size may vary among the different countries in Europe and Latin America, depending on factors such as demographics, health care infrastructure, and the availability of specific services in each region.
Rising demand for home health care services and products
As mentioned earlier, home health care is a growth area offering a range of business opportunities. These include:
- Home nursing services. It is possible to start a business offering home nursing services, where a team of trained nurses provides basic health care, such as administering medication, changing dressings and monitoring vital signs, and preventative care.
- Specialized medical care. If you are a physician or have access to a team of healthcare professionals, you can offer specialized medical care services in the home. This may include medical consultations, chronic disease monitoring, palliative care, and physical or occupational therapy.
- Medical supplies and equipment. You can set up an online store or a brick-and-mortar establishment to offer the medical supplies and equipment needed for home care, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, canes, wound care products, and others.
- Technology and mobile apps. Developing mobile applications or technology platforms that help communication between patients and health care providers may be an interesting business opportunity. These applications can facilitate appointment scheduling, treatment monitoring, medication management, and other useful features.
- Senior care. Population aging fuels demand for home health care services for senior citizens. Services of personalized care, companionship, help with daily activities, medication administration, and basic health care for seniors who would rather remain in their homes than move to a nursing home are in increasing demand.
- Medical transportation services. Many people with mobility issues need medical transportation to get to their medical appointments, or else receive treatment at home. There is demand for medical transportation services that allow patients to travel in safety and comfort, in vehicles equipped to meet their specific medical needs.
Health care payers in Latin America
In Latin American health systems, payers of home health care may vary depending on the country and the specific health system concerned. This means that access to home health care coverage may also vary in Latin America because of the differences in the health systems and the resources available in each country. Some countries have more developed programs and a higher degree of coverage, while health care in others is limited or inaccessible for certain groups of the population.
Potential payers for home health care in the region include:
Public health insurers.
In some countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, there are public health insurance systems that cover part of the costs of home health care for certain population groups like the elderly, people with disabilities, and people in situations of socio-economic vulnerability.
Private health insurers.
Many people in Latin America have private health insurance, whether through employers, insurance companies, or individual plans. This insurance may cover home health care services, depending on the policy and its coverage conditions.
Some Latin American countries have specific government programs for home health care. For example, in Mexico there is IMSS-Bienestar, a state-run welfare program that provides home health care services to rural and marginalized communities.
Out-of-pocket payment by patients.
In some cases, patients may pay for home health care services directly. This happens if they do not have health insurance or the services are not covered under their health plan.
Five technologies that are changing home health care
Lastly, home health care benefits from a wide range of technologies that help deliver quality health care services and improve communication between patients and care providers. These technologies contribute to improving the quality of home health care, facilitating patient health monitoring, and allowing effective communication between patients and health care providers, including remotely.
Technologies that are now common in home health care include:
- Telemedicine. Telemedicine facilitates remote medical consultation through communication technologies such as video calls and mobile apps. Patients may have virtual consultations with doctors and receive diagnoses, follow-up treatment, and medical recommendations without having to travel to a health center.
- Portable medical devices. Portable medical devices like blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and physical activity monitors let patients monitor their health conditions at home and share the data with their physicians. These devices provide real-time information and allow for more accurate monitoring of patient health.
- Mobile health apps. There are numerous mobile applications designed specifically for home health monitoring and management. These apps allow patients to record medical information, track medications, set reminders, monitor vital signs, and access health and education resources.
- Medical data management platforms. These platforms allow patient medical data to be stored and accessed securely, facilitating collaboration among health care professionals and coordinated medical care. Data management platforms may also include features such as appointment reminders, electronic medical records, and medication tracking.
- Home automation and virtual assistants. Domotic (home automation) technology such as movement sensors, video surveillance cameras, and emergency phone call systems can help monitor patient safety and well-being in the home. Virtual assistants are also used to provide medical information, set medication reminders, and schedule appointments.
Contact GHI to learn about the personalized market analysis and research we offer on health care in Latin America, and more. GHI can help your business understand the market better as a whole or in a key segment of a specific country.