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October 15, 2019

Futurist Jack Uldrich Tells NAHC Conference to Anticipate, Take Advantage of Change

Demography and advances in emergent technology are bringing enormous change to home care and hospice in the coming years and providers and business partners must adapt to this change or be run over by it, renowned futurist Jack Uldrich told over 1000 industry leaders at the 2019 Home Care and Hospice Conference and Expo in Seattle on Monday, October 14.

Uldrich, author of 11 books and sought-after lecturer to Fortune 100 companies and governments on five continents, urged attendees to spend part of every day thinking about the future, which would give them a distinct advantage over their competitors, who, if they are like the vast majority of people, are too busy dealing with urgent problems in front of them to spend much time pondering the future of their business and industry.

In particular, Uldrich warned that other companies are looking to move into delivering health care in the home because they can see that a rapidly aging population of people that prefers home to institutional settings is going to make for an expanding market for home health and hospice.

“Other companies are looking at your industry,” said Uldrich. “Apple is not dumb. They see the sales of the iPhone going down. They want to make money in the future. They want to make money by going into your industry.”

Uldrich also cited WalMart’s investment in blockchain and pharmacy services, an Apple Watch that can monitor body functions and detect falls, and Best Buy’s recent declaration that they plan to begin delivering to five million people in their homes over the next five years, as examples of big, rich companies moving into health care in the home.

Uldrich noted technological advances in virtual reality and Internet bandwidth are making things like remote surgery possible, which would seem to indicate that keeping people at home might be more possible than ever in the very near future. In addition, three dimensional printers are creating everything from medical devices to edible supplements to provide patients with their proper nutritional requirements.

“We’re going to be using these tools to be doing things fundamentally differently and you need to be prepared for it,” Uldrich said.

Advances in genetic science will allow doctors to determine which people are likely to develop certain maladies and when — and even predict with some certainty a time of death. While that might sound macabre, being able to determine, roughly, a time of death for certain patients might enable them to enter hospice care earlier and more reliably.

Finally, swift advances in drone technology can make the delivery of medical devices and supplies directly to the home easier, cheaper, and more reliable than ever. “Smart pills” containing monitoring devices will be able to transmit data to caregivers, enabling them to remotely monitor the health of patients.

A remarkable development in the use of robotic suits, being used by warehouse workers to enable them to lift very heavy loads, could also help caregivers move patients with limited or no mobility so they can dress, bathe, and perform other tasks of daily living.

“I need you to open your mind to what is going to be possible in the future. It might seem a little weird but it’s also really really exciting,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us as leaders to start thinking about these trends and how we can leverage them.”

The future of home care, said Uldrich, is ” not going to come from thinking about today or next week. It’s going to come from thinking about the future.”