Amazon, Cano Illustrate Growing Need For Senior Healthcare Creates Opportunity For Innovation


There are currently 73 million baby boomers in the United States, more than half of whom have already passed their 65th birthday. In 10 years, by the end of the year 2030, the entire generational cohort will be older than 65, with the oldest members in or entering their early 80s.

It is a change that is altering the world around it, as boomers are aging out of their most active years as workers and consumers and into the time in their life when their consumption of medical services will be the absolute highest. A change, and also an opportunity that an increasing number of players are keying into as the world of healthcare is attempting to recreate itself in the post-pandemic world more eagerly envisioned today as the availability of a vaccine appears to be drawing closer.

Among the larger big moves recently on observation is the announcement by special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Jaws Acquisition Corp. that it plans to acquire healthcare provider Cano Health LLC and take it public in a deal worth $4.4 billion including debt, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Barry Sternlicht-backed SPAC will invest roughly $800 million in Cano — a firm best known for its advances in provisioning primary care services for older and senior patients. The firm, founded in 2009, bills itself as a value-based care platform offering services for more than 103,000 members through its network of 564 primary care physicians across 14 markets in Florida, Texas, Nevada and Puerto Rico. The firm’s specific focus is on providing high-touch population health and wellness services to Medicare Advantage members, particularly in underserved communities.

The $800 million cash infusion will allow the firm to continue its expansion into more geographies.

“We have fulfilled and will always remain faithful to our mission — to improve patient health and quality of life by delivering superior primary care medical services, while forming life-long bonds with our members,” Cano Health Founder and CEO Dr. Marlow Hernandez, said of the deal in a statement. “We truly believe our model is transformative and can lead to fundamental improvements in America’s healthcare system, while helping Americans who need our help the most.”

Jaws Acquisition head Sternlicht noted that Cano was an ideal target for the SPAC as the firm is ideally positioned to capitalize on a massive market opportunity driven by the government’s shift toward Medicare Advantage and “demographic tailwinds in the market.”

Tailwinds, it is increasingly becoming clear, that Jaws isn’t the only player responding to and attempting to ride.

Amazon recently rolled out its Care Hub feature for Amazon Alexa — designed specifically to “help simplify the remote caregiving experience for both the person providing support and their aging loved one.”

The Care Hub allows an easy path for checking in on a loved one while protecting their privacy and building in safety features like a high-level activity feed and alerts. The system works by allowing two Alexa users to create a connection between their accounts. The user to be cared for sets up their Alexa-enabled device, app and connects with their remote caregiver via invitation.

From there the caregiver can monitor their family member’s activity (at a high level, with privacy enhancements such that the activity feed will note, for example, that someone listened to music without offering details on what they listened to), allow a caregiver to receive alerts directly through the system, if their user hasn’t interacted in any way over a certain set amount of time, for example. The system also is built to allow seniors to call for emergency services in the event they need immediate help.

Care Hub is new, and just coming out of piloting; Amazon confirms that more features are coming soon.

And it seems more competitors will likely be coming along with it. Because as boomers continue aging, the market for making their care safer, smoother, cheaper and better is only going to keep on growing.

And as Amazon pointed out in its statement, the COVID-19 experience has convinced many of them that with digital it can be done better. And now the race is on to build the array of products that can deliver on serving what will be a growing need over the next decade.

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