The mobile opportunity for home health workers

By Brian Dolan
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CellTrak BlackBerryAbout 78 percent of home health care agency CEOs want their workforces to begin using mobile solutions, according to mobile-enabled home healthcare company Celltrak. Already about 10 percent of home care aids use some type of mobile device at work today. With more than 50,000 daily home health care users, Celltrak is seeing a lot of traction with its mobile offering. The company launched in 2006 and quickly secured 12 customers. In its second year that jumped to 17 contracts, which ticked up to 19 customers in its third year. This past year has seen the most growth for Celltrak, which now counts more than 50 customers. Celltrak users are spread across 48 states in the US and all 13 provinces of Canada, Celltrak's CEO Mike Wons told Babyforyou.net.ua in a recent interview. While the company has a strong presence in the US, perhaps surprisingly, about 40 percent of its business is in Canada today.

Wons has reason to remain optimistic. Home health care is one of the fastest growing opportunities for mobile workforce solutions providers over the next five years. With more than 9,500 homecare agencies in the US and Canada and more than 2.7 million home care workers, companies like Celltrak have only just begun to penetrate the market.

This past spring investment bank TripleTree presented Celltrak with its I Award for best operational effectiveness: "This is not as sexy as some of the other companies that are pure clinically focused," TripleTree's Managing Director Peter Erickson stated in the release. "But at the end of the day, it really solves a pain point in the industry, which is compliance and operational effectiveness in home healthcare."

Sexiness aside, Celltrak's solution has appealed to an impressive number of channel partners including electronic medical record (EMR) vendors, device makers, and mobile operators. Celltrak counts Verizon Wireles, Sprint, AT&T and Telus among its mobile operator partners. BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion and Motorola are among its device maker partners and healthcare vendors like Allscripts, Cerner, McKesson are also among Celltrak's partners.

Wons said his focus during his one-year tenure as Celltrak's CEO has been building out this partner channel: "We work really hard at building that channel. Many of our partners found that they needed a mobile solution in the home health space and tried it on their own, didn't succeed so they came to us. We have a vertically integrated solution so there's no issues integrating with systems like Allscripts, McKesson or Cerner," Wons said. "At Celltrak we talk a lot about our mobile app and there is a lot of excitement around that. It's easy to build mobile apps, though. It's not easy to create a healthcare offering that has the ability to be directly integrated on the backend with most any system."

Interestingly, Celltrak started out as a low-cost solution for simple mobile phones like those that run on JAVA or J2ME. Celltrak then moved to the BlackBerry platform and recently made the jump to Windows Mobile and Android. Wons said the company is planning an iPhone launch in 2011.

"We want to be device and carrier agnostic," Wons said. "It's not hard to see there's a lot of buzz about smartphones, but feedback from our customers has shown what helps to make us different is our ability to work on low-end handsets."

Wons said one of the most popular devices their customers on the Sprint network is use is a low-end Sanyo device: "While we do work on many of the smartphone devices out there, our ability to effectively work on low-cost handsets is of great interest to some of the payer networks in the US. That's especially true for the Medicaid reimbursement markets out there where the margins are so tight."

A key driver for Celltrak's focus on working toward carrier and device agnosticism is its multi-generational user base. The typical profile of its non-professional home health care users is a 50- to 54-year-old woman with no college degree. In some markets, Wons said about 30 percent of these users have not used a mobile device regularly. Even those that have are not used to using a mobile device for anything other than voice calls or perhaps text messages.

In the coming years, Wons potential customer base is set to skyrocket: In 2016 an estimated 4 million people will be providing home care and home care services.

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