The amount of caregiving-focused technology available to employers has grown significantly over the last three years as more players bring apps to market, says Mark Cunningham-Hill, medical director of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
As the caregiving technology space becomes more competitive, employers are faced with difficult choices when selecting the right provider for the benefit. Save for doing their own research and approaching each individual vendor, there aren’t many ways for employers to learn what’s available, he adds.
NEBGH and AARP released a guide last year for employers to follow when selecting caregiving tech for their workers. The guide lists 24 available apps with information on their user base, privacy standards and digital features. It also includes tips for selecting a best fit, like looking for a platform that also has a human supported component, either in the form of a tech coach or care coordinator.
“A lot of employers don’t know about [caregiving technologies], and the first time they hear about it is when they get a call from a vendor and they don’t know where to go,” Cunningham-Hill says. “This guide gives them the place so if any vendor comes up, at least they have a reference point.”
Another online tool, ExpectNY, developed by the Northeast Business Group on Health, provides information on quality measures related to maternity and newborn care, enabling expectant parents in New York City and Long Island to compare hospitals and make informed choices about where to deliver a baby. Imagine if we could link that easy-to-use quality information — color-coded bar charts accompanied by images showing clearly how a hospital performs on a given measure — with meaningful, understandable price information. That could make a real difference for consumers who are seeking the highest-value care.
Many employers claim to be all-in when it comes to supporting employees who provide care for aging or ailing family members. Now, a boost from digital technology is poised to give those workers even more support.
One survey of employers, for instance, found nearly nine in 10 were interested in providing digital caregiving-support tools and services to employees. So it’s good news for employers that the Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP have teamed up to launch an online resource titled “Digital Tools and Solutions for Caregivers: An Employer’s Guide” to help HR and benefits leaders support the projected millions of employees who also are family caregivers.
Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and AARP released a new tech-based guide to help benefits experts and HR leaders support a growing number of employee caregivers. According to AARP, 24 million caregiver families are balancing work and home responsibilities.
The guide presents lists of available tools, including digital platforms for connecting caregivers to other caregivers and to people with similar diagnoses; monitoring tools for in-home patients; and health management tools. The guide also shows employers how to develop a digital-tools program and includes sections on common caregiver challenges and advice on assessing the value added to organizations offering digital platforms.
The caregiver's organization also pays a price. The Family Caregiver Alliance found that elder care alone results in about $5 billion in absenteeism annually. And a 2017 report from the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH), Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers, found:
In fact, 61 percent of U.S. caregivers for seniors reported feeling stressed, anxious and/or depressed because of their duties, and 49 percent said they were exhausted, according to a March poll by Unum.
These factors—combined with lost productivity and the expense of recruiting and training new people to replace caregivers who leave their employers—cost organizations nearly $38 billion annually, the NEBGH estimated.
Aging baby boomers, longer life spans and seniors opting to age in place are creating an unprecedented need for caregivers, including untrained family members.
To help them, the state and Northeast Business Group on Health have developed new resources for caregivers and their employers, respectively.
On Wednesday, the state Health Department rolled out a New York State Caregiver Guide during a ceremony at the Carter Burden Gallery in Manhattan. At least 1,000 copies of the book, which the state's health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, called an early holiday gift to caregivers, will be distributed by seven organizations across the state.
About 3 million caregivers provide more than 2.6 billion hours of care to loved ones each year in New York, Zucker said in his remarks. The economic value of that care is $32 billion, according to the state figures.
"Our goal is to help caregivers in New York state, so that they can continue to do what they have done all along," Zucker said. The care they provide is a "labor of love," he said.
The caregiver guide includes information about care-team selection, legal and financial issues, and communication with health professionals, Zucker said. It provides resources for caregivers to make sure their own needs are being met. It was published with the support of the New York State Health Foundation in collaboration with the AARP foundation.
Also this week, NEBGH and AARP launched Digital Tools and Solutions for Caregivers: An Employers Guide, for human resources and benefits leaders to use in supporting employees who are caregivers.
NEBGH said a past survey found 9 in 10 employers were interested in providing online caregiving resources to their employees.
Employers are increasingly aware that caregiving is an issue that affects their workforce, said Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH, and they are seeking ways to support their workers.
"The result of that is enhanced productivity, decreased absenteeism, better morale, and also better health and mental health as well as a better family life for those employees who are affected in this way," she said. —Jennifer Henderson
More workers are also caregivers to a friend or family member on their off hours, and employers can provide digital tools to support them, according to “Digital Tools and Solutions for Caregivers: An Employer’s Guide” developed by the Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP.
“Digital tools are not solutions in themselves but they are an important component of a forward-thinking benefits package that can significantly ease the burden on caregivers’ time and can help diminish the mental and emotional burdens associated with caregiving,” guide states.
"The market for digital diabetes prevention and management solutions has continued to mature ... As employers refine the mix of programs and benefit strategies they offer their employees, NEBGH has developed this updated guide to reflect changes in the market and profile a current set of digital solutions available to employers in their efforts to help employees prevent and manage diabetes."
Two large organizations are collaborating to work with employers who want to offer digital tools to employee caregivers in New York City who are working from home.
Working together on the initiative are the Northeast Business Group on Health in New York City and AARP.
A survey of metropolitan employers found that nearly all were interested in providing employed family caregivers with the technology they need to work from home, such as digital platforms that connect caregivers who are treating loved ones to each other, medical management tools and in-home patient monitoring tools.
The need for such tools is great - it is estimated that one in six employees, an average, is working from home.
The Northeast Business Group on Health has updated its “Digital Tools and Solutions for Diabetes: An Employer’s Guide,” to include both enhanced and new solutions—and promising future innovations—to help employers help their workers better manage their diabetes, lower costs and ultimately save more lives.