Honor CTO: Bringing tech to the home care industry

3 Feb 2023

Sandy Jen. Image: Honor Technology

Though the home care industry has traditionally been slow to adopt tech, Honor’s Sandy Jen believes it can make things easier for both older people and care professionals.

Sandy Jen is the CTO and co-founder of Honor Technology, a home care company with a platform designed to support home care providers.

She previously worked as the CTO and co-founder of instant messaging and social networking company Meebo, before it was acquired by Google in 2012. She then went on to work as an engineering manager at Google.

In her current role, Jen spends most of her time working with the product and engineering teams and building these teams is one her biggest responsibilities.

“In 2022, we doubled the team from about 40 to 90 and are still focused on continuing to build out that team so we can ensure we’re helping seniors age in the comfort of their own homes,” she told SiliconRepublic.com.

‘We are supporting seniors by providing tech that makes it easy for them to age at home’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

The biggest challenge we’re facing is industry competition for talented engineers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that by 2026, there will be 1.2m engineering job openings, but more than 70pc of business leaders say it’s currently hard to find and hire tech talent for high demand jobs like IT and software engineering.

As technology deeper integrates itself into more and more industries, the need for engineering talent continues to increase.

We’re addressing this challenge by really focusing our recruitment efforts on the diversity of the work and the team, the immense social and personal impact our work has and emphasising the often overlooked nature of care workers in the aging space.

By bringing this impact front and centre for these workers and highlighting it during our recruiting process, software engineers feel more engaged and a part of the organisation’s larger purpose – in this case, helping aging populations age on their own terms.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

The homecare industry has traditionally been slower to integrate technology due to the highly intimate nature of the work. That said, like so many other industries and especially organisations within the healthcare space, the pace at which the world and our ecosystems are changing (eg the pandemic) has compelled many companies to rethink their approach to leveraging technology.

In one specific example in home care, technology allows care pros to spend more time building stronger relationships with their clients by automating rote tasks and uncovering insights related to their clients that lead to better, more personalised care.

At Honor, we’ve always operated with the mindset that much of our technology should be centred around the care pro, because a fundamental thesis of ours is that if you can better care for the care pro, they can better care for others.

This is a different approach than other companies looking to address the caregiver shortage and retain this talent, but we believe it is critical to solve this problem. By creating technology with the care pro in mind, we are able to achieve lower turnover rates for care pros and higher employment satisfaction and better experiences for both the care pro and their clients.

We aim to use our data insights to give them autonomy and control over their schedules while also providing them with consistent work that they selected based on their interest and/or skill set. It’s a win-win for them and the client they are working with.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?

One general way companies and industries are working to achieve sustainability is to increase efficiency and decrease waste, from processes to materials.

One amazing feature of the home care industry is that when we increase efficiency in our operations and our services, we increase our quality of care and the capacity to care for more and more people.

One of our goals is to provide more and more accessibility and coverage of care for older adults by centralising learnings and operations into our care platform. By doing this, we can help eliminate wasted efforts, materials and time.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Everyone’s aging journey is very different and that’s one of the most challenging characteristics of our industry. Creating a tailored set of solutions for each older adult will require a combination of human-based services like home care and technology-based solutions.

Tech advancements such as Amazon’s Alexa Together and other medicine reminder and monitoring devices, are just the beginning of innovating on the way we care for older adults.

These advancements, which are specifically made to address the preferences and needs of aging adults, add new landscapes to how seniors are able to age in place comfortably and on their own terms.

It’s crucial that we are supporting seniors by providing tech that makes it easy for them to age at home while ensuring their loved ones have insight on their care.

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

Creating trusted channels is one way we can help address some of the vulnerabilities that plague the older adult demographic.

One of the challenges in the senior industry is that it’s highly fragmented, which means the burden of verification and research rests upon every individual with very little guidance or shared learning.

Honor and our care platform are aiming to change that by becoming a trusted expert and resource to guide and help more and more people navigate a really dynamic world. We want to be a trusted channel for the older adult population to access all goods and services that other populations can often take for granted.

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