Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Model for Home Health Care

In his article entitled “CareLinx’s New Model for Home Health Care” from October 25, 2012, Nick Lieber discusses the relatively new, innovative company CareLinx that aims to drastically change the homecare industry by eliminating the middleman of actual homecare agencies and allowing those in need of a caregiver to seek out a willing worker and independently agree upon things such as a consistent paying rate as well as schedule of meetings. Onetime Merrill Lynch derivatives trader, Sherwin Sheik founded CareLinx back in December and currently maintains a database of 5,500 home-care workers out of San Francisco. “Visitors to the site can search the listings based on criteria such as work experience and overnight availability or post a job for free.” While homecare agencies “generally charge $15 to $20 an hour and pay workers $10 to $12 an hour,” the worker can take home anywhere between $12 to $15 on average per hour.
What really interests me the most about this new model is that it is essentially the Match.com of homecare. Not only does CareLinx allow a truly personal experience that allows the caregiver to receive more money for their services, it also offers the opportunity for those in need to potentially not have to be placed in an institution. While the caregiver is still practically a stranger, the individual or family seeking a caregiver will now have a plethora of knowledge about the worker available at their fingertips. An interesting outcome of Sheik’s model could be that significantly sized agencies also have access to his site. Instead of spending an indefinite time seeking help or requesting interviews, agencies can now use CareLinx’s in depth services and information and hire, effectively putting money into Sheik’s business while effectively competing with them.
Moving forward, CareLinx can add a user review system that allows those who used the caregivers services to provide feedback and give the caregiver some sort of score that will allow future clients to see just how good he or she is. Large agencies could also partner up with CareLinx by dispatching workers to reduce the cost of having actual physical institutions.
While this new model seems to be promising, there are still potential shortcomings. By having access to the information of the caregiver, there is a possibility of people having preferences based on gender, race, or age. They can single out certain groups of people based on personal likes or dislikes. Ultimately, this could negatively affect the company and opportunity for certain caregivers to find work. Also, by not having some sort of physical space, this could prove detrimental if the database fails. Large industry agencies still have years and years of reputation and experience of operations that CareLinx cannot simply provide. As a society, we tend to buy the brand rather than the product or service because of the reputation that surrounds whatever we by. Therefore, large homecare agencies have a name to rely on that CareLinx does not. 

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-25/carelinxs-new-model-for-home-health-care


  1. Mark, I found your article very interesting and think it is a well written critique on the innovation of Carelinx. I felt as if I was able to connect with this article especially because I have been a caregiver for the last 8 years, as a babysitter for numerous families that live in my area. I know what it is like to be on the side of the caregiver rather than the one searching for one. As a caregiver I often found myself struggling to find families that needed babysitters. I would simply rely on referral connections with other families to get my name out there. By creating a profile on Carelinx I would not only rely on intermediate connections but would be able to expand my services to others that I may not have been able to meet on my own directly.

    I agree that this article is interesting in the sense that Carelinx has the same qualities and goals that a “match.com” or “eharmony.com” provides, but instead of an online database to find a sole mate it is an online database for home-care. Carelinx works similarly to “match.com” in the sense that you create a profile about yourself and hope others find you, by surfing the online database. Carelinx allows you to create a profile online about your working qualities and intentions for doing various tasks. The data base then links each profile up with the caregiver’s zip code for a potential client to contact you. A caregiver could be someone who not only watches over children but dogs, mentally ill, elders, or anyone who needs extra home-care. Carelinx’s website states that this site will help people to hire affordable and compatible caregivers. Carelinx is available to help find and manage a compatible caregiver that matches one’s specific home care needs and budgets. Another essential piece to Carelinx that Mark mentions is that Carelinx can add a user review system that allows those who used the caregiver’s service to provide feedback and give the caregiver some sort of score for future clients to see just how good they are. I think this a very important part to the website. When it comes to care for loved ones, buyers of these services need to feel good about who they are bringing into their home.

    If more people start to use the system and start creating more and more profiles this could diminish the middle man. The existing home care firms carry a lot of insurance, protecting them from liability issues and as a result have a pretty good track record over the years of keeping their clients safe. CareLinx will have to start building their reputation from the ground up and will need to make sure only reliable, screened resources are allowed to be part of the database. Mark touches on this point that I agree with, instead of spending indefinite time seeking help or requesting interviews, agencies can now use Carelinx’s in depth services and information for their hires. If the database remains reliable, their business should grow.

    This database sounds like an innovative idea although it still will require a lot of maintenance in order to make sure it doesn’t turn into a data dumpster. Hopefully CareLinx has thought out how to maintain a very rich, useful, reliable database. Some of the best caregivers might not have heard of the site yet or are opposed to putting their private information on a public site, but I would think more and more resources will start participating, especially if it becomes a go to web site for those in need of home care. This site is definitely a good start for seeking out potential caregivers and streamlining the often agonizing process of looking for reliable help.


  2. Mark, I agree with you on the possible dilemma facing CareLinx: racism, sexism, or ageism. Human nature, for too long, has seen these issues and its an unfortunate truth in the world we live in.

    However, I feel that it is a good idea to leave that option in the hands of the person seeking help. For instance, an elderly woman may prefer to have a woman caregiver because she feels more comfortable with privacy issues or because they may be able to relate on personal issues.

    An widowed, elderly man could seek the care of a woman that reminds his wife. At first this may seem wrong, but I am not suggesting it in a manner that provokes any form of illegal behavior. I am suggesting that a person who requires a caregiver needs to have something to live for or to fight for. If an elderly man is lonely and misses his wife, he may look forward to seeing the caregiver and that one person could keep them fighting.

    Besides the beneficial effects from a personal standpoint. CareLinx produces an incentive for caregivers to not work for agencies. Agencies look to take money off the top while Carelinx looks to put more money in the caregivers pockets while saving the people in need some extra money. The idea is simple and efficient.

    I wonder how Carelinx makes their money. Is it purely based off advertising to their internet traffic, or do they charge membership fees? If they do not charge membership fees, what is keeping them from doing so in the future? There has to be more to the business plan than meets the eye to cause an ex-Wall Street derivative trader to leave such a lucrative industry. I could be wrong, Sheik could have a personal goal to have his own business or the subject of caregiving could touch close to home, but from a purely financial standpoint, I believe Sheik sees their is profit to be gained from this industry.

    I, however, see there to be a flaw to the Carelinx plan. Caregiving agencies are great because they ensure the person in need and their family that the caregiver assigned is genuine. Caregiving agencies require background checks and handle any malpractice issues as they come. Carelinx needs to incorporate a security function to ensure caregivers are not taking advantage of people or abusing people. Caregivers could easily be tempted to steal from the home of a bed ridden person, or there could be times, God forbid, that caregivers take advantage of elderly. I hope this to never be true, but Carelinx can not assume all caregivers are angels. CareLinx needs to account for all possible situations and make sure the legitimacy of their operation stays intact.

    I believe that Carelinx is a step in the right direction for the caregiving industry and the economy will benefit from this person-to-person interaction.

  3. With the large population of baby boomers aging, home health care is an essential service that many people will need. CareLinx seems like an innovative and more affordable alternative to the traditional home care agencies.

    One major thing to take into consideration is the safety of both the patients and the caregivers. Patient abuse is unfortunately a common news headline. Caregivers are entrusted to care for the patients who are often completely incapable of functioning solo. After doing some research, I found out a shocking fact: “No federal standards or regulations exist for home-based health-care aides and because state regulations are generally weak and vary widely, the industry is plagued with corruption and attracts opportunist predators” (The Daily Beast). Although CareLinx runs background checks on the workers, how reliable is their system? Will it be accurate enough to ensure that the family is hiring a reliable worker?

    The safety of the caregivers is also another important thing to consider. A predator could easily post a listing looking for a supposed caregiver, putting them in danger. How can CareLinx create a safeguard against this type of situation? How can they ensure that the people signing up for accounts are legitimate?

    I do believe that the flexibility of CareLinx is beneficial for both families that can’t afford hiring a worker from a home care agency and care givers that are currently unemployed. Cutting out the middleman will benefit both parties. If CareLinx can ensure that their screening process is reliable, I think that it will be a success.

    Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/11/27/the-strangers-in-our-parents-homes.html

  4. I remember the day when my mom would be planning a vacation and we would have to go to a travel agency in order to book our trip. Now we no longer have to set aside time out of our busy day to get the service we need, since we can book trips in just minutes online. This allowed companies to make a lot more money since they no longer have to pay the agency commission. Internet websites have allowed the middle man to be completely cut out. This is the same for dating services such as match.com and eHarmony. Customer service has been taking to a whole new level with CareLinx.

    CareLinx is a website where care givers can make a custom profile just like match.com, which will try and portray them, as accurately as possible. Caregivers can be babysitters, someone to watch over the home, help the elderly or even take care of pets. Customers will be easily matched to a caregiver first by zip code then by similarity and needs. This will give the customer a truly compatible experience and make them feel most comfortable. They no longer will just have any random caregiver sent to their home, but rather they will have someone handpick making the experience more personal. This is also economically beneficial to both parties because the middleman is cut out so the care giver can make more profit or they can negotiate a fair price.

    My major concern is with the safety of both the customer and the worker. The thing is, you never know who is really sitting behind a computer making that profile. How do you know that it’s not a 48 year old child molester trying to watch your children? Or how do you know that the person is not lying and over exaggerating the information listed on their profile? It is sad to say but things like this happen today and the client must be aware or vice versa. I agree with Mark, that there should be a review section of not just CareLinx itself, but each person who makes a profile. This will allow the customer to be more at ease after reading certain reviews of what other people have to say about a certain caregiver in their local area.

    If the flaws could be somehow minimized I think this is CareLinx is a great site. I believe it will be very successful because of its simplicity. I know from my own experience that it is very hard to find babysitting jobs in my local area and this will make the process much easier for people like me. It will not only allow people to be compatible with whom their working with but it will also allow either the caregiver to make more money or the customer to be able to pay less.

  5. Mark, nice Cardigan! Anyways, I found your article very interesting and a sign of our changing world, much like Erica commented above. I find it kind of scary that there is now basically a Facebook for someone to care for our loved ones. It obviously offers efficiency, practicality and a larger range of service but there are many cons as well. How do we know exactly who could be coming to our homes? How much can you really know about someone by their profile? Would you really leave your children in the hands of someone you met online? This sounds so sketchy to me. With all the poor caregiver stories that have graced the newsrooms over the years I would not want to leave my loved one anywhere with someone I had not really met. As the Baby Boomers get older, more and more elderly people are going to need help and CareLinx provides a place where "users can search a large network of qualified and screened caregivers, which surfaces matches based on several backend algorithms." I'm sorry but I do not trust algorithms. If the most complex algorithms in the world cannot keep the Stock Market from crashing then I do not trust less complex algorithms which try to search thousands of caregivers to find the "perfect" on for me.

    CareLinx says it provides a secure environment for searching caregivers but I do not trust social media let alone this. Maybe I am an anomaly in my time, I do not have Facebook, Twitter, and I use a 11 year-old phone but I just do not trust online security. Too many people get in trouble for utilizing the internet the wrong way and too much information ends up in the wrong hands. I love technology and I use it everyday and look at new ideas as well. I have fun playing around with it and using it for school but I just do not use it to conduct my personal business.

    The final reason for my not trusting CareLinx is the overly possessive and satanic look of the woman on the homepage of the website. Enough said...