Business Ideas that People don’t Know they Need
A good businessman once said to me that you don’t create a product unless there is a need for it. How many times have you thought about this great product and when you are telling someone else they looked at you like you were crazy. Well I get that a lot and not just by my wife. Sometimes you have to make the new market and sometimes you have to improve the market. Here I am going to try and think outside my comfort zone and see if any ideas make more sense. Be warned I am going to talk about stuff I know nothing about so it should be a little comical at times.
The Aging Population
I am old enough that I remember doctors coming to my house for a house call. I have never understood why when you are sick you have to get out of bed to wait in the clinic to see the doctor and put yourself and others at risk with a lowered immune system. I don’t see doctors returning to this model because there is a supply and demand problem in the system coupled with abuse by some patients makes this impractical with this limited and valuable resource. We are keeping the supply of doctors very low relative to the demand. Since doctors govern themselves, they are not going to let more students into medical school even though they are turning away more students each year then they are accepting. The arguments for this are many but I assume they believe that higher quality is achieved by limiting the pool of prospective students. Certainly, a wrong diagnosis is worse than no diagnosis but as my first boss liked to say “you can’t throw away the baby with the bathwater”‘… meaning that we don’t worry about the edge cases because they are always present no matter how much you try and prevent them. For the majority of us our care can be handled by most health care workers and the edge cases probably would do better with specialists. In an ideal world you would have a well defined set of escalation between health care practioners without creating too many barriers for the patients. No one wants to be passed through the system endlessly but perhaps if we moved the initial triage to the home lines it would make the process a little easier and palatable. There is also some efficiencies to be gained by keeping people out of busy doctor’s offices, letting people know they will recover without prescription drugs, and escalating problems cases quicker into the system. An ecosystem needs to be built that supports this model. Here is how one might look.
- Send nurses to the front lines. They tend to have better bed side manners and can handle the majority the easy cases. They can escalate problems to doctors and as a society we can create far more nurses and faster than doctors. We could create storefronts where nurses work for walk-in and we could have them do house-calls. This would eliminate some of the crowding in Doctors offices, emergency rooms, and clinics. It would also benefit the elderly who have a difficult time getting to clinics and provide preventive medicine before they become very sick. Instead of building more expensive assistant living residences, there may be some saving as seniors are able to stay at home longer.
- Send technology to the front lines. There is a lot we can do with simple technology for remote instrumentation of elderly homes and patients. Not every elderly person is fortunate to have a relative still around that can check up on them. Things in the house can become dangerous such as a furnace, or other normal household appliance. Technology exists that can see,smell, think, and tell temperature. Why not provide the ability for remote diagnostics so that we can check up on our relatives and it could in turn be used by nurses before we dispatched them if its health related. Most of the ideas swirling in my head are pretty mundane like smoke detectors, co2 detectors, thermostats, and other security devices to help protect seniors from aging homes and appliances. Video cameras and software has made it smart enough that we can have the system call us when thresholds are reached.
- Send caretakers to the front lines. This is already being done by health care workers but more can be done. It could be shopping, doing the laundry, or even driving them to the store. Sometimes, its too far them to walk from the parking lot to the store and navigate the traffic and other obstacles when your mobility is severely limited. Drop them off at the door, park the car and then meet up with them in the store to shop for groceries. Simple but effective way to improve their lives. Taking a bath or other simple hygiene tasks we all take for granted are difficult for the elderly. For example, cutting their toe nails can be almost impossible. While this might seem like an extravagant waste of money if it keeps more out of the hospital and more out of assistant living and other state run homes it could help keep costs down.
- Send technologists into the front lines. Computers need care and feeding. Everyone needs an expert at one time or another to explain how things work or show them how to navigate the dangerous of the internet. Should be more business that come to your home for a few hours and help you on your own computer.
- Medical supply and assistant senior needs warehouses. There needs to be places where you can get portable toilets, hospital beds, lift chairs, and other necessities for free. Society also needs to learn to donate purchased items when their relatives have died back to these warehouses where they can be used by the next person in need. More business could service this and it keeps seniors at home longer instead of clogging up the institutions.
- Consulting services in navigating the red tape of health care options from the government, and where to turn for temporary and long term medical supplies. For example, the province of Alberta has a program that will pay a senior up to $3000/month to pay for services so they can stay in their home. It is not needs based but the form can be a little intimidating because one needs to create a Plan on how you will replace the Home Care service with your own solutions. This is a very good program because for some seniors it isn’t realistic to expect them to wait in bed up to 2 extra hours when they need help getting to their portal toilet in their room. Predictable services that will always arrive at the same time could then be purchased.
There is going to be loads of opportunities in the next decade. The aging population may be a lucrative market for those companies to support these items I mentioned above. I don’t think there is any new thinking in my statements above and I have had first hand experience in many of these concepts with the care of my grandfather in his last years.
Here is a list of technologies in no particular order.
- Self Driving Cars by Google.
- We Care – care takers that come to the home and will do just about anything from cleaning to shopping
- Alberta Home Care – Province will send caretakers to help the elderly for free
- AJ Loan Cupboard – Provide free rental for as long as you need for hospital beds, lift chairs, you name it
- Red Cross – Provide free wheel chairs, walkers, etc for 3 months at a time
- Archerfish video monitoring – This technology allows caregivers to track in real time with low bandwidth devices like smart phones
To be continued.