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Home care software market ‘undervalued’

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The home care software market is undervalued, experts working in the sector have claimed.

The global home care software market is expected to nearly triple in value from 2019 to 2026, growing at an annual growth rate of nearly 14 per cent, and funding for elder home care startups has nearly doubled in the last two years, according to a report from Crunchbase.

However, experts in the home care industry see many factors that indicate estimations for the market are undervalued.

“First and foremost, many of the forecasts for these studies have taken place before COVID-19 started reshaping healthcare models around the world,” says Simo Hännikkälä, CEO of home care software solutions provider Nursebuddy.

“I get continuing signals from clients, governments, ageing populations and the ongoing pandemic that point to an industry that’s undervalued.

“We’ve seen annual growth of 106 per cent per year, with customers in seven countries. This kind of growth would’ve been impossible if there wasn’t a large demand for digital solutions in the home care market.”

One of the ‘signals’ Hännikkälä keeps track of is the NHSX joint project between the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The goal of NHSX is to digitise health care and plans on digitising record-keeping for social care providers, with many goals to be met by 2024.

The combination of health and care is currently hovering at around ten per cent of GDP in the UK. Digital solutions for home care provide an economically viable solution to the many problems in domiciliary care. While COVID massively accelerated the need for digital care, indicators were already there to show a massive shift in how health and home care are administered.

According to experts, the belief in the home care industry that digital record keeping for home care agencies will eventually become a requirement for the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Home care providers currently have a wide range of adoption for digital solutions, with some agencies still utilising pen and paper for documentation.

“There are different types of software available that are used to a greater or lesser extent by providers. Digital rostering systems for example are probably in use by 70 to 80 per cent of providers whereas digital care records are in use by maybe 30 per cent of care providers,” says Jane Townson, CEO of the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA).

“I think the reason why it’s undervalued at present is because levels of adoption at the moment are not as high as they could be. The government in the UK has a strategy to encourage use of digital solutions in the social care sector in general.”

While government often provides funding for home care, administration of domiciliary care is typically contracted to private agencies by local councils. And there is often a large disparity for care between rural and urban populations.

Kate Pym, founder of Pym’s Consultancy, adds: “Digital is an answer to the major challenge of travel. It’s an issue that’s seen by rural communities that isn’t necessarily recognised by urban societies.” Having fewer people on the ground means digital solutions are essentially a necessity, Pym explained.

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