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By Monica E. Oss

May 9, 2011

As of last week, MedCottage units— affectionately referred to by The New York Times as “granny pods”—are available commercially to anyone in the U.S. (see First MedCottage Units Available for Lease or Purchase all members). MedCottage units are 299-square-foot modular homes equipped with telecare or remote care equipment, and designed to be temporarily placed on a caregiver’s property.

The MedCottage is one of many new developments to leverage new tech development to support both consumers and caregivers – allowing more consumers to remain in community-based settings with less stress and strain on the caregiver. While MedCottage is the entire “home,” we’ve reported on a number of other developments:

The market for these new tech tools is not insignificant. Five percent of the U.S. population (those individuals with chronic and complex medical conditions) account for 49% of total U.S. health care spending (see Health Care Cost Drivers: Chronic Disease, Co-morbidity, and Health Risk Factors in the U.S. and Michigan ). And, the investment in caregiver time is significant— unpaid caregiver time for patients with Alzheimer’s disease alone reached $202 billion in 2010 (Annual Unpaid Caregiver Time For Alzheimer’s Patients Reaches $202 Billion ).

And, caregivers are interested. A recent study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare (see Three in Five Americans with Chronic Disease Say Using Home Medical Devices Would Improve Health ) found that caregivers are very receptive to technologies that may help them to take care of their loved ones:

  • More than 75% of the caregivers surveyed said they were interested in and likely to try using personal health record tracking software.

  • About 70% felt a caregiving coordination system and a medication support system that dispenses pills would be helpful.

  • Between 60% and 70% cited interest in other technologies, such as devices to monitor and transmit medical information.

  • About 69% of caregivers said they would be somewhat or very receptive to using smartphone applications to help them with caregiving.

As we move ahead with our tandem national goals of allowing as many consumers as possible to live in the community and reducing our health care spending, look for more action in tech tools for consumer supports.


Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS

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To read more about how technology is influencing health care services, see: Technology is Raising Consumer Expectations all members 

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