The pandemic has accelerated consumer demand for aging in place, and technology is the key to helping the healthcare system meet the burgeoning need.

COVID-19 has challenged us all to do things a little differently—how we work, how we play and how we socialize with friends and family. Another profound change coming out of the pandemic is the way we choose to age. While consumer and demographic indicators were already trending towards aging in place, the pandemic has accelerated these developments and vastly increased the percentage of people over 65 who prefer to receive care in a home- or community-based setting rather than an institutional placement.

A favorable regulatory environment is also hastening the transition, with increased flexibility among health reimbursement systems and the loosening of regulations around supplemental benefits and telehealth helping to promote new ways of delivering care.

At the same time, we’re seeing a heightened need for providers to integrate purpose-built technology solutions alongside traditional senior care models in order to optimize caregiver efficiency, differentiate themselves with patients and referral sources, and address systemic breakdowns in quality of care for the high-risk, high-cost senior population.

Against this backdrop, aging in place technology innovations are poised to transform the way people age.

For technology companies that support aging in place through a range of solutions, such as remote patient monitoring, care coordination and predictive analytics, caregiver training and management, family caregiver enablement, and practice management, now is the time to step up to meet this generational growth opportunity head on.

I’ve evaluated aging-in-place technologies for more than two decades, first as the CEO of both the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group and Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and then as an executive at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Here are some of my recommendations for healthcare technology companies to best position their growth strategy and sales approach for success with large payors and providers.

A common frustration among payors is that tech companies are unable to prove value across more than one population.

Focus on what payors value most

Payors are the new frontier for tech companies and one of the largest purchasers of healthcare technology. Payors are under constant pressure to optimize quality of care and decrease costs as they embrace value-based payments for their members. To take advantage of the opportunity, technology companies need to closely empathize with their unique needs and challenges.

Demonstrate quantitative ROI

At a minimum, payors want to see a pilot study that has been validated by an outside partner like a university, and ideally that study will cover use cases for multiple populations including Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and commercial health plans. A common frustration among payors is that tech companies pitch a primary use case but are unable to prove value across more than one population.

Help payors create a preferred provider network (PPN)

Healthcare technology companies can often provide health outcome insights based on data analytics, thereby helping payors identify which provider is the best fit for a particular member with a particular set of healthcare needs. By giving payors the data they need to gain insight into differential outcomes of care achieved, technology is helping payors curate and define their preferred provider networks based on specialties, outcomes and other factors, thereby supporting value-based care.

Provide solutions that go beyond immediate need

Home care services, even those under the Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) system, don’t have the resources to deliver 24-hour support. But remote monitoring, telehealth and other real-time technologies are enabling payors to go beyond the immediate need and sustainably support round-the-clock remote healthcare services that can be consumed within the home.

Intuition will always have its place in healthcare, but with multiple providers in the patient’s mix, it should be guided by data.

Align with home health and hospice priorities

Home health organizations are typically focused on providing the highest possible quality of care through innovation, growth and expense management—all while staying compliant. They require scalable technology with good customer support that’s easily integrated and implemented. Technology companies can help by focusing on the following:

Provide insights into their referral system with data

Home health and hospice organizations place a very high value on referrals, and any insights technology companies provide can directly translate into increased revenue. What are the market share trends in their area? Where are the best partnership opportunities? Where should they focus referral efforts? Those are the insights that drive revenue, and the more intel you can provide, the more value you’ll have to the organization.

Drive efficiencies through electronic health records (EHRs)

Technology-driven workflows that generate referrals and other actions based on EHR data are excellent tools for lowering costs while optimizing care. These systems can drive consistency in standards of care, adherence to evidence based practice, and reduction in unnecessary variances in practice and outcomes.

An example might be an EHR that immediately triggers a referral for physical therapy or a targeted home health aide when a patient presents with functional limitations in terms of bathing, dressing or walking. Another might be aggregate assessments to help guide the development of the patient’s care plan and supplement intuitive decisions with access to broader data sets.

Deliver predictive capabilities based on data

Intuition will always have its place in healthcare, but with multiple providers in the patient’s mix, it should be guided by data. Technology providers are in a unique position to equip providers with AI innovations that filter and distill the data into meaningful insights. These technologies can aggregate data to trigger timely intervention, signal a need for a higher level of care, predict the optimal professional discipline blend, and facilitate timely referrals to other types and levels of care, including behavioral health, palliative care, hospice care and long-term care.

Not only does this enhance the standard of care, but it enables health organizations to demonstrate their value to payors. This is a crucial differentiator when bidding on value-based contracts, which are becoming more prevalent than fee-for-service contracts and give providers the opportunity to improve profitability and enhance the standard of care.

Health systems know that the value they see from technology can only be realized when it integrates easily with other solutions already in use.

Think about the healthcare stack holistically

Health systems are another high-potential buyer for aging in place technology solutions, and their priorities are similar to those of the home health and hospice providers who are often part of the system. However, they are also motivated to invest in technology that integrates easily with other solutions that are already in use. Health systems are sophisticated technology consumers. They know that the value they see from technology, including workforce efficiency, data quality and AI-generated data insights, can only be realized when it integrates with the broader technology stack.

Here’s the bottom line.

It’s a pivotal moment for technology companies in the healthcare space, but those that surge ahead will need to do more than dazzle with leading-edge technology. They will need to prove that they understand and are ready to meet the core needs of the payors, home health and hospice providers and health systems that are their most valuable customers.