November 2010

Aging in Place Technology Watch November 2010 Newsletter

Two tin cans and a wire -- is that common sense?  Over the hopping month of November, we learned that 500 million people will be using mHealth (mobile Health, sometimes also called wireless health and telehealth) by 2015.  But wait -- not so fast. Then came the wet blanket study from Yale -- the NY Times article described the 'disappointing results' with remote monitoring efficacy. The article quoted Eric Dishman, who "noted that the monitoring system in the Yale study relied on the patients to phone in their daily results. Many failed to do so."  So what the Yale study proved is that the use of technology with a bad process produces a disappointing result.  No kidding.  And because it was in the New England Journal of Medicine and written up in the NY Times, no doubt initiatives that are underway to extend deployment of remote monitoring of chronic disease will now be hobbled into re-justifying and explaining why their study is different, that their results (like the Veteran's Administration) are positive, blah, blah. That their forward motion is based on automatic transmission of results, automatic analysis of exceptions to baseline status, and a phone call TO the patient from a nurse. That after three months, more than 55% would still be participating because they received a benefit from being part of the study.  Now that would show common sense. >>> Read more . . .

Excuses, excuses: overcoming barriers to adoption

Geriatric care managers are cautious and waiting. (Warning: rant on). Last week I spoke about technology for aging in place to a room full of New England geriatric care managers (and a few home care agencies and senior housing folks as well).  When I talked about technology, particularly remote monitoring, filling the gap in hours covered by home care aides, they enthusiastically nodded in agreement. But when I ask if any are using this technology, I heard about interest, curiosity and upcoming pilot programs (no vendors picked yet), and the like. Ditto with the home care agencies represented in the exhibit area. What I didn't hear about -- confident or near-term likelihood of advocacy of a specific product. >>> Read more . . .

Boomers, seniors, and tech: is this really the best of times?

The first boomers are about to turn senior.  One might think that the excitement of the first boomer turning 65 in January would have waited a few weeks closer to January, but silly me. So one boomer will turn 65 every 8 seconds starting in January. Is it the beginning of one of society's great tragic periods -- too few jobs, dwindling public funds for safety nets, declining health, and a fundamental recasting of the societal dependency ratio (see WSJ article)? Or will it be the beginning of a long and joyous 'senior boomer' or 'booming senior' marketing marathon that rises and then slowly ebbs over 30 or 40 years when the 46-year-olds run out of money and steam? Your perspective may vary: it matters whether you make a product for an aging population but want to move the age downward and broaden the appeal (see GreatCall). Or whether the opposite is true and you're Toyota and want to create a vehicle that will tackle problems of aging head on (no pun in tended). Or whether you're in a complex senior-focused market, like MetLife and long-term care insurance, where the economics of longevity and the recession have both shrunk the target buying audience and made the cost of claims untenable. >>> Read more . . .

Market indifference to aging -- cars, phones, traveling, packaging

Market indifference -- the mobility gap.  You've seen the driver -- too short to see over the wheel, too timid to change lanes safely, maybe taking multiple chronic disease medications -- and still driving. In 15 years, 1 out of 5 drivers will be 65 or older. "The result is a 'mobility gap,' Joseph Coughlin, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab, which develops technologies aimed at keeping older people active" said in an interview.  Cars can be made smarter, he says, to help save us. But as a society and marketplace, what are the solutions for today's older driver -- let's say just those 4 million above the age of 80? They can call the bus, take the RIDE, ask a friend, but as the current scenario stands -- to stop driving is, as he says, to be on 'house arrest'. Who would want to tell them to stop driving with this patchwork of transportation alternatives, especially in the suburbs where most live? >>> Read more . . .

Whither the Wii for older adults and other Kinect conundrums

Kinect-ion mania. This was an interesting week -- aside from the  mid-term elections, which were as riveting a score-keeping experience as I've watched since the days before the 2004 World Series. But immediately after the election came the arrival and quick store departure of Microsoft's Kinect sensor units: the Target near my home sold out in one (brief) day.  After reading the various near-rhapsodic reviews in the NY Times -- and this June's hopeful speculation about boomer-senior Kinect benefits from the Senior Director, Worldwide Health at Microsoft -- you have to wonder. Says Dr. Crounse: "How about home physical therapy or medical rehabilitation with expert avatars or live health professionals guiding me?  What about supervised exercise programs for weight control?  How about applications for people with cognitive disorders or neuromuscular challenges?"  Yes -- how about all of that? >>> Read more . . .