Health care industry outlook

Senior care looks to technology to address labor woes and patient engagement

Nov 01, 2023

Key takeaways

The steady surge in the senior population has created booming demand for senior and home health care.

With labor shortages not easing, senior care organizations should look to adopt new technologies to augment their workforce.

Tech innovations can provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace and improve quality of care.

Health care

The senior care labor force has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. The latest U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that approximately 76.4 million baby boomers, or those born from 1946 to 1964, will be fully eligible for Medicare by 2030. Though both senior care and home health have added thousands of jobs so far in 2023, the aging population and growing demand for services continue to outpace labor numbers.

The steady surge in the senior population has created booming demand for home health care—from health monitoring and hospice care to occupational therapy and skilled nursing care. Home health care is positioned to answer growing demand for senior services by offering flexibility and convenience to consumers, wherever they are along the continuum of care. However, the sector will continue to seek out additional solutions to minimize caregiver burnout. 

Bridging patient needs and workforce demands

Today, sophisticated technology is essential for the delivery of home health care and senior care. It provides critical solutions to bridge workforce constraints and patient needs, and can help to fuel overall growth. For instance, generative artificial intelligence and remote patient monitoring continue to grow in effectiveness and accessibility. These emerging technologies represent new ways to reach patients and provide them with personalized care.

In addition, the sector should expect to see greater adoption of voice and video in senior and post-acute care services next year, driven in part by an increase in digital health companies focused on aging. Voice- and video-based technologies allow older adults to maintain their independence by accessing information on demand and connecting with others remotely.

Senior care organizations can provide customizable experiences for their clients through these technologies to drive resident engagement. Staffing issues aren’t going away, but automation can give clinical and nonclinical staff more time in their day to focus on patients and residents. Automation of  repetitive tasks such as filling out forms related to employee onboarding or patient data can boost efficiency in clinician and operational workflows.

In addition to implementing automation for documentation, many senior care organizations are turning to robots for help. One example is the use of dining robots, which are replacing people for repetitive tasks such as running meals and dirty dishes to and from the kitchen. This gives dining staff more time to talk with residents during meals.

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The next wave of adults eligible for senior living could be just what the industry needs to boost occupancy and operating margins as labor and development challenges linger. From getting creative on supplementing labor to implementing technology to support operations, senior living providers must innovate to survive while high interest rates and other market forces dampen new growth.

TAX TREND: Remote workforce

Many health care organizations are expanding their labor pool by accommodating workers’ preferences for remote or hybrid arrangements. Organizations that hire workers across state lines need to understand the corresponding tax obligations to comply with jurisdictional laws and accurately measure the return on this investment in labor.

Learn more: 5 signs your compensation and benefits packages need an overhaul

Senior living operators face elevated expenses and tightening margins; even as the client census improves, uncertainty on the capital side will continue to slow down growth. With the runway for distressed properties shorter than ever before, senior care organizations are having hard conversations with lenders. However, long-term positive market conditions will ultimately mean that the winners will pick up more management contracts and capital providers could be the losers.

TAX TREND: Generative AI

Senior care organizations may develop generative AI software themselves or license it from a third party. The tax and accounting implications of each approach will factor into overall cost-benefit analyses.

A business that licenses software usually deducts each year’s license expense from its taxable income in that taxable year. Conversely, the tax treatment of software development expenses became less favorable in 2022 when a law change took effect.

RSM contributors

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