It is well known that the home health care category is poised for substantial growth over the next few decades. For years industry professionals have been pointing to the unprecedented number of Americans about to enter older adulthood.


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Inside This Issue - News

Home Health Care: Solutions approach will pay off for retailers

February 13th, 2011
by Jennifer Johnston

It is well known that the home health care category is poised for substantial growth over the next few decades. For years industry professionals have been pointing to the unprecedented number of Americans about to enter older adulthood.

The numbers are startling. More than 7,500 Americans will turn 65 each day in 2011. By 2025 that number is expected to rise to over 11,500. Compare that to a decade ago, when each day a mere 4,800 people made that leap.

Not only are there more people celebrating their milestone birthdays now than a decade ago, these individuals are of an entirely different generation. And while the silent generation was perhaps more content to accept the aging “status quo,” the baby boomers that succeed them are far less silent about their desire for individuality and the ability to age in their own homes.

What does that mean for home health care? For one thing, many aging boomers see assistive products, such as walking aids, as socially acceptable accessories that help them keep active and maintain their lifestyle. To embrace this social acceptance, many assistive products have adapted by becoming more stylish.

Younger boomers are beginning to exhibit the same trends. And while the youngest of the boomers won’t reach their prime for 18 more years, a good number of these individuals currently care for their aging parents. These boomers may not always identify with the label of “family caregiver,” but caregivers are what they are — over 13 million strong.

Many caregivers whose loved ones do not live with them outfit their own homes with durable medical equipment and assistive living products, as well as modify elements of their homes to provide a safe and convenient environment for their loved ones. They also stock their closets with incontinence products or diabetes supplies. They do these things so that they are prepared when their aging parent comes to visit. If they purchase duplicates of equipment or supplies that their parents already own, there is no Medicare reimbursement.

Caregivers in this situation pay cash to keep their visiting parents comfortable, which equates to dollar signs for retailers who cater to this audience.

Retailers can attract both younger caregiver boomers and older boomers caring for themselves by expanding their home health care products selection. However, before making a commitment, retailers should answer a series of questions such as the following: “Who is your home health care competition?” “Do your current patients need home health care products?” “How much space do you need to display home health care products?” “Should you offer specialty services?” “How will you build the home health care business?”

Answering these kinds of questions correctly is critical to building a home health care presence that shoppers will flock to, according to Hamacher Resource Group’s “HRG Retail Building Blocks: Home Health Care Self-Assessment.”

Another approach a retail operation might consider is having each location carry core home health care products with special product emphasis varying by store. Specialty selection would be dependent on area demographics and positioned at a location where turnaround would be highest.

For example, a retail location that is near a large assisted living facility that houses a high proportion of individuals with walking disabilities could specialize in mobility products, while another location may partner with nearby sleep centers and specialize in sleep apnea equipment.

In the scenario above, all locations would be able to order any item, and the store’s e-commerce web site would house the full breadth of products as well.

Three things are certain when it comes to home health care. First, the number of Americans aging into the target demographic will reach unprecedented numbers over the next 15 years. Second, they will be looking for solutions that allow them to age gracefully and independently. Retailers that recognize the trend and position themselves as understanding solution providers will reap the rewards at checkout and beyond. And third, tomorrow’s shoppers will demand a different kind of “integrated” shopping experience than presently exists.

JENNIFER JOHNSTON is an industry writer and researcher with Hamacher Resource Group Inc., a retail health care research and marketing company.

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