Caregiving is at its essence, relational—people taking care of other people. Yet we so often design care experiences, especially health-related, for a single user: the patient. This leaves out the critical role caregivers play in both the health outcomes and day to day experience of patients. We end up building products and services that don't account for the communal reality of how care really happens in people's lives. There is an opportunity to design care products and services that reflect these realities—of multi-person, multi-role, multi-generational care networks—and can more easily facilitate the connections between families, communities, and providers.
The $648 billion dollar care economy includes the diverse care surrounding patients and care recipients, well beyond the clinic or hospital. There are 54 million informal caregivers in the United States constituting a heterogeneous community that we are all a part of—spanning gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomics. There are also 4.7M paid care workers in the care economy.
In sectors like entertainment, gaming and workplace tools, there has been a notable shift towards collaborative software products with multi-user capabilities. Think about Netflix accounts that cater to different preferences and permissions for both kids and parents. Consider shared Google Docs, where assigning someone as an editor or a commenter is seamless. Or even the convenience of Instacart, which allows multiple contributors to a shopping cart. While we're starting to see the healthcare industry embrace multi-user experiences, such as Fitbit and Oura enabling shared data between families and friends, there is still immense untapped potential.
In addition to better care outcomes, designing products for caregiving teams can be a significant driver of product adoption. Multi-user products makes sense from a business perspective: multiple people using a product means more engagement and greater stickiness when a group continuously interacts with a product.