Technology Seasonality & Sector Challenges

Part
01
of six
Part
01

Education: Top Challenges

The top challenges facing the K-12 education sector in the US are school safety, standardized testing and government funding.

SCHOOL SAFETY

STANDARDIZED TESTING

  • Another top issue facing K through 12 education in America, per education trades including Trade Schools and District Administration, is standardized testing.
  • Although the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which came into effect in 2016, removed the most challenging aspects of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regulation, schools, many educators and public officials still suggest that standardized testing is "one of the biggest problems" facing K through 12 education in the US.
  • Specifically, critics maintain that ongoing pressure for high standardized test scores continues to create a teach-to-the-test mentality, that standardized testing is still overemphasized in policy and funding decisions, and that other equally important but non-tested subjects receive less attention and resources.
  • However, Starr Sackstein, the Director of Humanities at West Hempstead Union Free School District, suggests that standardized testing may finally become less important as higher education begins to de-emphasize such scores.
  • Meanwhile, W. James Popham, the Professor Emeritus at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies of UCLA, maintains that the growing resistance to standardized testing will not result in significant change until the federal government provides different guidance to states.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING

  • Meanwhile, government funding was also highlighted as a top challenge facing the K through 12 education sector in the US across education trades Education Week, Trade Schools and Teach For America, among other publications.
  • Although school funding is somewhat of a perennial topic in America, 2018 was a year of new energy and activism among teachers.
  • Specifically, concerns over sufficient and equitable funding across US K through 12 schools appears to be only growing as an issue.
  • This is in part due to the fact that more than 90% of the funding for public K through 12 schools comes from state and local governments, and most states reduced such funding streams following the Great Recession.
  • Although some schools have seen funding increases within the current economic environment, many states are still providing less money for K through 12 education than before the Great Recession.
  • For example, 29 states are still spending less per K through 12 student than they did a decade prior to the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Ultimately, the reduction in government funding has translated to fewer teachers and support staff at schools, a reduction in programs, lower overall school resources and, in some instances, teacher strikes.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

Please note, for the purpose of this analysis, we defined the top challenges facing the K through 12 education sector in the United States as those mentioned most frequently by experts in the education sector, including education trade publications and organizations. Additionally, the specific experts and publications noted throughout this analysis not only raised these issues within their literature, but also highlighted each of these challenges within articles summarizing the most important or critical issues facing the education sector in the US.

Please also note, we included an article published by Education Week which highlighted the eight top issues facing K through 12 education in 2018. Although this article was behind a paywall, it was available to the public for free through incognito mode with Google. As such, we have provided a link to the article itself, as well as a screen shot of the content available through incognito mode.

Part
02
of six
Part
02

Local Government: Top Challenges

Some of the top challenges facing local US governments include managing infrastructure with limited resources, managing their data and upgrading their technology for efficiency and predictive analytic benefits, and providing the level of health and human services required by explosive opioid epidemic.

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Infrastructure improvements were cited in 57% of mayoral speeches leading to its placement as a top challenge facing local governments. McKinsey states that cities can use smart technologies to improve the quality of life in many ways like shortening commute times by 30 minutes and reduce crime by 20% to 30%.
  • City governments have limited budgets which keep them from being able to institute infrastructure changes that could improve the quality of life in their cities.
  • Smart technologies are one way city governments can improve infrastructure as it is stated to be able to "extend the life of roads, bridges, and transit systems", smooth the flow of traffic, introduce new commuting options, and more. Many cities are starting to use technological solutions to fix the pedestrian infrastructure, improve walkways, and improve safety for walkers and bikers.

GOVERNMENT DATA AND TECHNOLOGY

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • In light of the opioid addiction health and human services were mentioned in 46% of mayoral speeches. In addition, over 1,600 local governments and Native American tribes have sued the pharmaceutical companies further demonstrating its status as a top challenge for the local government sector.
  • Local governments are trying to develop crisis intervention and diversion programs and solutions-based approaches to address the opioid epidemic that is increasing the number of mental health emergencies.
  • Local governments have teamed up with state governments and sued the large drug distributors placing them as the cause for the opioid epidemic. As of October 15th, the three largest distributors are in talks to pay $18 billion over 18 years and Johnson and Johnson may contribute even more.
  • Cities and counties have launched their own lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies as well to avoid being left out like how the tobacco lawsuits stayed largely at the state level. Local governments state they are the best positioned to help their communities that have been affected by the epidemic as opposed to the state government.
  • More than 1,600 local governments have filed lawsuits speaking to the seriousness of the opioid epidemic at the local levels. Local governments are responsible for "serving and protecting" their respective communities, and research shows that local governments bear the brunt of the responsibility of the costs of addressing those affected by the epidemic.
  • Attempts to measure the financial and social impact of the epidemic have examined health care costs, criminal justice services, and worker productivity.

STRATEGY

We determined these challenges to be considered top by those most mentioned by mayors and local government officials. Also, the opioid epidemic was further verified as a top challenge due to the multitude of current lawsuits brought by city governments and Native American tribes and settlement talks including disbursements of at least $18 billion dollars over 18 years. Infrastructure issues were mentioned by over 57% of mayors and is an initiative that cities nationwide are struggling to address, so that was also included as top challenge. Limited budgets have also led to a failure to upgrade technology and capabilities to manage big data.



Part
03
of six
Part
03

Home Healthcare: Challenges

Four top challenges facing the home healthcare sector are 1) Ongoing labor crunch, 2) Shifting government regulations, 3) Lack of reform in the profession, and 4) Technology (cyber attack). How these top challenges are impacting the home healthcare sector in the US are also provided in the findings below.

ONGOING LABOR CRUNCH

  • There are severe challenges regarding the availability of getting and retaining qualified home healthcare practitioners. Although the home healthcare sector can boast of a large number of employees across the US and massive revenue generation in billions of dollars, they face severe issues of labor crunch.
  • As demand grows in the sector as a result of the aging American population, staffing wars are getting uglier by the year. According to a study, it will cost about $2,600 to recruit and train a new home health worker.
  • The industry currently doesn't have the required labor to satisfy clients' demands. This shortage can be attributed to, among other things, the issue of stricter immigration policies and wage pressure.
  • The persisting labor crunch is impacting the sector because it gives room for unconventional poaching of staffers of competitors. It invariably also brings about contractual legal issues and throws providers of home healthcare agencies into murky legal waters.

SHIFTING GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS

  • Shifting government regulations are among the top challenges facing the home healthcare sector in the US typically because the inconsistency plays caustic effects on the way businesses are carried out by the agencies.
  • For instance, the Affordable Care Act caused a recent shift in the sector through the placement of focus on "values-based medical care payment structures, a critical component of the home health sector."
  • Another government regulation that poses a top challenge to the sector is the 2019 final ruling of the Medicare home health that has introduced a revised payment system.
  • The federal policymakers, through the passage of the Medicare Advantage (MA) program in 2018, allow non-skilled in-home care services that will consequently undermine professionalism in the home healthcare sector. Some experts believe that this initiative is not in the best interest of the industry, indicating that some significant insurers can decide to become 'payviders' — a term for payer and provider.
  • The Trump's Administration strict policies on immigration have affected the sector negatively in recent years as one in four aides are believed to be immigrants, thus contributing to the persistent labor crunch in the industry.
  • As indicated above, the inconsistency of government regulations is impacting negatively on the home healthcare sector. It contributes to the ongoing labor crunch and undermines professionalism in the industry, among other things.

LACK OF REFORM IN THE PROFESSION

  • Home health-care experts have been canvassing for reform in the profession in recent years, particularly in the areas of "better compensation, benefits, training and advancement opportunities for personal-care aides."
  • As it is, home health-care experts do not get the respect they deserve, and this has become a top challenge facing the sector. According to one professional, a home healthcare worker earns "$10-an-hour on a job, often without benefits, providing services to extremely vulnerable people."
  • The jobs that home health-care experts do is "what 99.9% of the population would like to avoid doing." Notwithstanding, about 60% of them work full time with "turnover rates of around 50%."
  • In the prevalence of an increasing number of large employers in the US market with better and higher payment structures, low-paid workers like home healthcare experts are shunning the industry for higher pay rather than a career.
  • The lack of reform in the profession puts the sector on the precipice of a crisis, and if not immediately nipped in the bud with the necessary change put in place, the fear is that demand will outweigh supply. This is even more so since their jobs are not regarded in the real sense of it.

TECHNOLOGY (CYBER ATTACK)

  • Technology has placed a significant footprint in the home healthcare sector with the feature to integrate all care plans into a more massive and central healthcare database.
  • Although technology is meant to enhance the quality of home healthcare delivery, it comes with its attendant risks. One of such attendant risks that pose a top challenge to the sector is the "protection of patient records against cybercriminals."
  • The home healthcare players are in a fiduciary position to ensure the privacy of patients are not compromised as a result of any breach of confidentiality through the cyberspace.
  • Technology is impacting on the home healthcare sector because players in the latter are required by law to protect patients' records against 'unfamiliar territory.' Hence, non-compliance or corporate negligence could result in class actions of litigation, loss of clients, and adverse business environment.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We started our findings by identifying the top challenges facing the home healthcare sector in the US. After concise research, four top challenges were identified based on the following analysis below.
1) The four top challenges identified were impacting the industry and were frequently mentioned by experts in the industry.
2) The four top challenges identified had many top executives of companies in the sector having one or two things to say (either in the positive or negative) as regards these challenges.

3) Based on some market analysis reports from credible business platforms such as Forbes, CNBC, and Glassdoor, the four top challenges identified were mentioned among trends, opportunities, and challenges defining the projected market size of the industry. We were also able to provide reasons for the ways these top challenges are impacting the home healthcare sector in the US.
Part
04
of six
Part
04

Education: Technology Seasonality

In the United States, K-12 schools spend approximately $100 to $200 per child on software and other classroom-based technology each year. The companies focused on producing hardware and software technology for classrooms comprise what is known as the EdTech industry. This industry is highly attuned to school budgeting and purchasing seasons, and as such, companies aim to make the bulk of their sales during a specific time of the year.

EdTech Seasonality

  • Most schools understand their budget's limitations and enrollment estimations for the upcoming year in the spring.
  • Spring is also when most EdTech companies begin reaching out to school districts and administrators to make sales pitches.
  • Education software companies benefit from early spring sales, as those products often require additional approval from school administrators before purchase and implementation.
  • Correspondingly, many within EdTech believe that spring is sales season. However, others within the industry caution that in spring, schools are bombarded with offers and may not be ready to commit to a particular product, making it easy for new technology to be lost in the shuffle.
  • The summer, or approximately 2 months before a typical school year start, is when most K-12 teachers begin planning their school year.
  • Accordingly, actual purchases of EdTech typically take place in the summer, 2 to 3 months before the school year begins.
  • Furthermore, approximately 4 in 10 teachers spend their own money on EdTech, though school administrators claim that number is lower.
  • With teachers spending their own funds and the fact that a complete enrollment picture may not be apparent until school begins, actual purchases may take place in fall as well.
Ultimately, spring appears to be the EdTech sales pitch season, with both school administrators and EdTech sales teams focused on budget numbers. However, actual purchases typically take place after that in summer and increasingly throughout the year as teachers may seek out additional technology to fit actual class needs.


Part
05
of six
Part
05

Local Government: Technology Seasonality

The buying seasonality for technology in the local governments in the US refers to the periods within which the local government plans, buys, and implements technological products.

BUYING SEASONALITY

  • After most companies report their fourth quarter's sales, the technology buying seasonality period ends, which in most cases happens after the holidays.
  • The identification of the technology products to be bought usually happens in the budgeting period, to ensure that the available finances for the local governments are well planned and allocated.

BUYING AND IMPLEMENTATION

  • Buying the identified technological products takes place in the third quarter of a financial year and is implemented in the final quarter as this is the period during which most products are used.
  • The last two quarters of the year depict a high season when local governments enjoy the highest profits from the businesses.
  • The holiday runs from November to mid-February, and as fate may have it, this is when competition among similar businesses is the highest.
  • Therefore, the local governments in the US consider contracting promising startups in different sectors, including health and public transport, to offer services to its people.

CHALLENGES

1. Poor Advice
  • Most local governments have to plan on the adoption of the latest technologies, and this means that they could be missing out on savings regarding costs of the various software and lagging on the efficiency of services to their citizens.
  • Having the right advice ensures that local governments in the US can have notable cost savings on the technological products that they purchase.
2. Lack of Expertise
  • Most local governments may know existing technologies but lack the expertise for implementation.
  • Therefore, there arises the need to look for help from the federal government if the local government envisions improving efficiency in their health, education, and finance systems.
  • Emerging technologies that include smart cloud technology lack skilled people in the local governments that can help out with implementations, and their adoption by the authorities takes longer than expected.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To determine the identification, buying and implementation seasonality for technology in the Local Government in the United States, we checked for available analyses in the form of charts and tables from relevant and credible websites one by one sorting them in the order of their relevance. We discovered that the planning occurs before budgeting time for the local governments, buying of the technological products happens after budgeting as implementations occur in the last quarter of the year, typically during the holiday season.


Part
06
of six
Part
06

Home Healthcare: Technology Seasonality

While there was no publicly available market data that could provide direct insights into the buying seasonality of home healthcare technology products, publicly available data did provide some useful findings about the home healthcare technology industry, as well as the seasonality of health care. For example, the health care and technology sector stock market has particular strengths from April to June and from October to December. Below is an outline of the most relevant findings.

HELPFUL FINDINGS

  • The global home healthcare industry as a whole is expected to reach $349.8 billion by 2020.
  • Telehealth in the United States, one piece of the larger home healthcare technology market, was estimated to be a $26.9 billion market in 2017. It was projected to increase steadily with a 19% CAGR until 2022.
  • Some demand for home healthcare technology and devices comes from healthcare services and facilities; some comes from individuals. These different consumer sources for home telehealth technology may conceal seasonal buying patterns.
  • Telehealth is regularly used by family positions. It's estimated that about 15% of physicians in the US use telehealth technology in their practices, and that the trend is increasing.
  • The healthcare sector experiences seasonal strengths in stock performance from April to December. The technology sector experiences seasonal stock strengths from October to February and from April to June. These periods overlap from April to June and from October to December.
  • Fiscal year ends for hospitals in the United States are most commonly December 31 (32.9%), June 30 (31.0%), and September 30 (17.9%). Less than 5% of hospitals have fiscal year ends in other months. Budgeting processes for spending on home healthcare technology may occur in the months before those dates.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

First, the research team looked for information about seasonal effects in purchasing behavior with respect to home healthcare technology as a group. We searched industry reports, market research guides, surveys, and news sites. These provided some general market data on particular kinds of home healthcare technology, like telehealth, but nothing on all home healthcare technologies together. We think that this information is likely not available publicly because it is a relatively specific request about many quite varied products.

The research team then tried to look for seasonal buying trends for individual home health technology products. The individual products that were considered to constitute home healthcare technologies were those that were used to provide medical care to patients in their home. This included things like telehealth technologies, advanced remote sensors, as well as software applications that provide medical advice. We excluded fitness technologies, social media technologies, applications and technology that facilitate the creation of medical appointments, and home assistants, because, although these contribute to a patient's health, they do not provide medical care. While there is some public research on how these technologies are used, it was not possible to find seasonal buying trends for these technologies separately. One reason it might be difficult is because these at least some of these products seem to be platforms or data, and would likely require a regular subscription rather than a single sale. Companies may subscribe and pay for access to a home healthcare platform or application, and this may not adhere to clear seasonality trends.

Next we tried to triangulate seasonality by looking for press-releases about partnerships between companies that provide home healthcare and technology companies. We assumed that it could be the case that partnerships between healthcare providers and home healthcare technology companies were akin to purchases of service; therefore, if home healthcare technology partnerships were announced at a particular time of year, that could serve as a proxy for when home healthcare technology products were bought. We found several partnership announcements and press releases: one in each of April, June, July, and October; however, there was no clear seasonality trend.

Finally, we tried a method of triangulation in which we looked for some major companies in the home healthcare technology sector and looked at their quarterly earnings over the past ten years to see if there was a seasonal pattern in their earnings. We thought that if there were seasonal patterns in purchasing the products, that could be reflected in seasonal patterns in reported earnings. We looked for relatively large companies that sell home healthcare technology products in the United States, and that do not have products in another sector (so that their earnings from home healthcare products would not be conflated with earnings from other products). Three companies that met those criteria were Teledoc Health, Intouch Health, and AMD Global Telemedicine Inc. Teledoc had consistently increasing earnings every quarter for the past 5 years, so there was no seasonal pattern of fluctuation in their earnings that could suggest seasonal buying patterns. Intouch Health and AMD Global Telemedicine are private companies and do not have public financial data. We then tried to expand the search to other companies as well, including CareClix, Doctors on Demand, and iClinic, but again, these did not have public data about the company's earnings.
Sources
Sources

From Part 03
Quotes
  • "on how home care services are pre-acute and not just for when older adults develop conditions or return from hospital stays."
Quotes
  • "values-based medical care payment structures, a critical component of the home health sector."
  • "protection of patient records against cyber criminals."
Quotes
  • "better compensation, benefits, training and advancement opportunities for personal-care aides."
  • "$10-an-hour on a job, often without benefits, providing services to extremely vulnerable people, doing work that 99.9% of the population would like to avoid doing."
  • "turnover rates are around 50%."
From Part 04
Quotes
  • "Edtech Startups selling solutions to the K12 segment must understand that sales cycle averages around 6 months and EdTech sales is also a seasonal thing. Majority of the schools run on budgets and do not make year-round purchases. Understand the cycle of your target segment. It will be different for schools that close in winter vis-à-vis that close in summer."
Quotes
  • "Schools are inundated with sales requests through the spring... Spring sales should be reserved for products with whole school implementation which will be used for the coming school year."
Quotes
  • "There are a few reasons to sell across seasons: First, different funds are released at different points in the year. Some may be ready by the summer, but other funds are dependent on the demographics of enrolled students, so can’t be calculated until the school year has begun. Second, administrators may not have used the full fund when it was first released, so they may still be looking for products for their funds’ balances into the winter and even late spring. "
From Part 05
Quotes
  • "The period of seasonal strength for the Technology Sector ranges from October 9th through to February 15th. The seasonal trend ends around the time when companies in the sector report earnings for the fourth quarter of the calendar year, which includes holiday sales."
Quotes
  • "The story of emerging technology trends is inseparable from the story of the public sector. Governments and other public entities play a role in foundational research and put new tools into widespread use. "
Quotes
  • "The dawn of the data age could have far-reaching implications across all sectors of society and in all corners of the country. Of course, in tandem with great opportunities come great challenges, and the challenges here are profound."
Quotes
  • "Budgeting in U.S. local governments is about more than finance. The annual operating budgets of cities and counties in the U.S. also serve as their most significant policy"
Quotes
  • "At the NASCIO Annual Conference, Arkansas Chief Information Officer Yessica Jones explained how her state’s data center consolidation has set the state for making smart choices about what’s going to the cloud."
Quotes
  • "The 2019 edition of the survey includes insights and analysis from in-depth interviews with CIOs and their designees from 49 states and territories. It’s a much different group from the last survey — nearly 40 percent of respondents were different from last year’s participants due to turnover that’s occurred, heightened by the changes in executive leadership brought about by the 2018 election cycle. "
From Part 06
Quotes
  • "Advanced remote patient monitoring sales accounted for $29.7 billion worldwide in 2014, according to Kalorama Information, and a good deal of that demand came from home treatment and health facilities."
Quotes
  • "According to Kalorama information, sales for remote patient monitoring was estimated to around $29.7 Billion in the year 2014 out of which a good part of the demand was accounted for home healthcare facilities and services."
Quotes
  • "The period of seasonal strength for the Health Care Sector ranges from April 25th through to December 4th. "
Quotes
  • "The period of seasonal strength for the Technology Sector ranges from October 9th through to February 15th. The momentum in the sector over the past 20 years has influenced a subsequent period of strength between April 15th and July 17th."
Quotes
  • "According to a new research report, “Global Telemedicine Market Outlook 2022”, the market for telemedicine was valued at US$ 29.6 Billion in 2017 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of approximately 19% during 2017-2022. "
  • "Based on end users, the report broadly categorizes telemedicine market into Telehospitals/Teleclinics and Telehome. Telehospitals/Teleclinics emerged as the major revenue earners of the industry, holding the largest share. "
  • "Some of the key players operating in the market are McKesson Corporation, Philips Healthcare, GE Healthcare Ltd., Cerner Corporation, IBM, Honeywell Life Care Solutions, AMD Global Telemedicine, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., and Medtronic plc."