Why Digital Home Health Isn’t Selling by Jason Knott

Here’s an article from CE Pro  June 20th 2011 By Jason Knott – his view on Why Digital Home Health Isn’t Selling….what do you think??? To read the article: http://www.cepro.com/article/why_digital_home_health_isnt_selling/  

Dealers lack the sales skills for digital home health market that is ready to take off.

As the residential market continues to flatten and integrators seek out alternatives, why haven’t more dealers looked into digital home healthcare? After taking a full-day GrandCare Systems training recently at Home Controls Inc., here are a few of my conclusions.

The market is growing: There will be 70 million senior citizens by the year 2030, double the number from the year 2000. This one is even more mind boggling: there will be 1 million people over the age of 100 by the year 2050. Almost none of us will able to afford nursing homes.

The systems are profitable: Systems from companies like GrandCare offer healthy margins for dealers.

The systems offer recurring revenue: Dealers can earn solid “alarm-like” recurring monthly revenues from home health systems.

There is an entry-level option: Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) offer a lower-cost option to “get your feet wet” in the market.

Systems are easy to install: The GrandCare System is stand alone, it does not and cannot integrate with a home control system. That might be a drawback in terms of providing a totally seamless solution for customers, but is probably not a reason for not even offering these systems. Plus, the installation is way easier than installing a control system or even an A/V system.

There is no liability to the dealer: In the case of GrandCare, the system liability is borne by the manufacturer, not the integrator. Besides, the system is not a PERS. It is not designed to detect when granny falls down the stairs.

Since all the stars seemed to be aligned for aging in place systems, why aren’t they selling? The only conclusion I can come to is that integrators are unwilling to put in the sales effort. For the average integrator, the systems are not easy to sell. The sales process requires educating both the caretaker and/or the family of the elderly client. It can be slow with a lot of hand-holding.

Selling digital home health also means you have to establish relationships with a new set of partners (nurse care, physical therapists, oxygen supply providers, etc.), and A/V guys don’t want to do that.

If you want to put in the work, the home health market is ripe for the picking. If you don’t, then you will be on the outside looking in on a market that is unquestionably going to be huge.

Am I wrong?

CE Pro  June 20th 2011 By Jason Knott

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.


Posted by Paul Self  on  06/20  at  10:04 AM

I believe it is more about the transition from the AV/Home Theater dealer to being a true Electronics Systems Contractor (ESC). This industry is struggling to transition from “Home Theater” guys to really address the electronic needs of our lives (even as we age). This same speed bump happened with IT services and video gaming. The CEDIA market practically fought back because it was not home theater, whole house AV, or control system. The industry is still struggling with energy management, which is a lot more than energy monitoring. This industry is at an important juncture that will require a lot of dealers to adjust to being a true ESC.

Posted by Stephen  on  06/20  at  12:41 PM

Have you ever tried to sell tech to old people?

Posted by Paul Self  on  06/20  at  01:03 PM

Therein lies the problem. This article is about selling piece of mind to care givers and helping an aging population live in their own home with autonomy. It isn’t about selling technology to old people. They do not want to live in a “old people’s home”. They want to live at home and not be a bother to their children. They key is to sell the benefit, not to sell the technology. The CEDIA market is struggling past that transition of selling the cool technology and start selling the benefit. We are touching everything electronically in the home, and yet we ignore a major lifestyle shift, aging in place.

Posted by Jason Knott  on  06/20  at  01:17 PM

Paul is right on. The primary sales target is the family member and/or caregiver, not the elderly “loved one.”

Posted by Laura Mitchell – GrandCare Systems  on  06/21  at  09:17 AM

This is an interesting article, Jason, thanks for posting!

I see a few reasons why the market has been slow to accept!  One of the problems was technology in general!  It took a while to really get a hold on the industry!  We started selling GrandCare back in 2006, set up a dealer network in 2007.  Some of it was just a waiting game, waiting until the market caught up with the early dealers’ visions.

I think in a lot of ways, all of our dealers have been extremely visionary, so often way ahead of the curve. They saw the need, they saw the solution years before the general public noticed.

So, some of it was just getting prepared, waiting it out, getting educated and educating their local population on the solutions available.

I do agree with you that so often, there is much more hand holding and explanation/education involved (at least for now) in this industry. We often find that many of our dealers that are successful have experience already in the elder care market OR have been smart to partner with an aging expert.  Some of our dealers have partnered or hired on a geriatric care manager, nurse, continuum of care expert, etc.  These partners are the ones that know HOW to talk with the caregivers/loved ones AND they know how to identify problems and help to solve them using technology.

It’s darn hard to sell something to a demographic that you really know nothing about. For this very reason, in 2008, I started up industry wide aging/technology webinars. They were designed to educate our dealers on the aging market and how to apply tech to those situations!  They are still happening – the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month – we meet here: http://grandcaresystems.webex.com (all are welcome)

Biggest mistake is when a dealer joins this market to “make a quick buck” – it’s not an easy sale, but it IS fulfilling, heartwarming and as an added bonus, the margins are good!

Thanks for the post!

3 replies
  1. Julie Menack
    Julie Menack says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what Laura said – it’s important for dealers to partner with professionals in the field of aging who are comfortable working with this demographic – geriatric care manager, continuum of care expert, nurse, etc. It is critical that this professional assess the individual and family to evaluate their needs so that the system can be designed and optimized for the situation. One key piece of the puzzle is to get professionals in the field of aging so excited about technology that they will recommend a technology solution. I have been working for the last few years to bring the idea of technology to support aging in place to my colleagues.

    Julie Menack, Founder

    21st Century Care Solutions
    5111 Telegraph Avenue #102
    Oakland, CA 94609
    Phone 510.338.3178
    Fax 510.338.3179

    Compassionate Care + Technology = Increased Independence

    Professional Fiduciary Services
    Care Management
    Technology Consulting for Aging in Place

    Announcing the release of the 3rd Edition of the Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Chapter by Julie Menack titled Technologies for Aging in Place.

    Julie Menack quoted in June 2011 Money Magazine article: Keeping your aging parents safe at home

    Please comment on our Blog:

  2. Ron
    Ron says:

    It’s not the technology or the age of end-users that has held home health IT back. Home health advocates lack the clout and cash that other competitors put on legislative tables. If there is any doubt, look at what is happening nationwide to government payments for home health.

    Smart players see that interactive TV will be the medium to connect healthcare providers with the home market. In the interim, sales can be made to institutional owner/operators of retirement living and skilled nursing centers. I know that market and the IT possibilities. I live in Florida and served on the founding board of Continua Health Alliance.

    Ron Hammerle, Chairman
    Health Resources, Ltd.
    Tampa, Florida

Comments are closed.