Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
August was a bonanza of buzz, buzz, buzz. Usually August is a snoozer (and a slow news month) in the business world, what with vacations and organizational regrouping. But beginning with the August 3 Intel-GE Joint Venture announcement that fueled hope and speculation about accelerating intentions, more activity and media tracked right behind. During August, Great Call announced a new Jitterbug medication reminder service, Healthsense received a round of investment led by Radius Ventures, a $1.3 billion M-Health market sizing got Qualcomm and AT&T excited. Or maybe that that was 'mHealth' -- Best Buy (re)surfaced with health-related stuff in stores. Within the general what's-it-all-mean confusion, more press followed last month's NY Times series -- this time NPR offered up a series on aging and technology as well. Never one to shut up, I offered my own 'bah humbug' assessment of the assessment.
Alzheimer's hype, hope, oops...reality. Speaking of saturated media coverage, August was a month in which the unsuspecting might actually think an Alzheimer's revolution was at hand. Following July's news of amending (expanding) criteria as to what consitutes the disease, next came identification of biomarkers as possible early warning indicators. But stay cautious about remedies and prevention: see yesterday's NY Times published the NIH jury and Duke 'meta' study -- a study of all previously published studies about what's proven and what's not. The short answer about the various prevention and remedies studied to date -- the answer: NOT PROVEN. Implication? New criteria potentially broadens the population beyond the current 5 million, diagnosis is potentially going to be at an earlier age, and nothing has been proven to work at staving off or curing the disease. To me, this signals an opportunity to create or re-purpose smarter GPS and geo-fencing apps (not just technologies) to prevent wandering, not just find those who are lost -- and while we're at it, let's see some studies that prove which ones work best and under what conditions. We're going to need them.
Amd how long before the iPad solves everything? Ah well, sigh, I guess it will be just a bit longer, judging from the Nielsen study noting that only 15% of iPad buyers are over age 56. I bet that even those (no demographics to prove) are not that much over, either. And will the smart phone be the remote monitoring and fall detection device of choice, meaning all others rest? Not in the near term -- seniors aren't buying or using them either. So for all those who ask about this -- I doubt it. Remember, Apple doesn't even want admit to marketing to baby boomers!. And carriers express interest and even dabble a bit here and there, but invest little or nothing in marketing. So in the meantime, keep on keeping on with solutions for the foreseeable future. When there's a big change, you can read it on this site early and often.
On other topics explored during these supposedly quiet August weeks:
Thinking about CCRCs, technology, and whether boomers will move. One Pennsylvania demonstration tech center offers up a strong hint to other continuing care communities -- and for that matter, senior centers and community programs. Why not a demonstration center to enable families and seniors to touch and try a technology or two? I'd like to hear about many more in the months ahead. One other future-forward thought: CCRCs will be steadily reinventing themselves in the near and long-term, trying to broaden their appeal to the target market family that values connectedness, broadening their services ever more into community-aware home care services, and confronting the groundswell of interest in Aging in Place that so threatens their success.
Mulling what will help an eager dealer and integrator population. While some vendors dream of a direct-to-consumer market -- like shopping in the Best Buy aisle, say -- the target consumer audience and the products themselves are not yet ready. So that means vendors must cultivate channels of distribution. Home automation, tech integrators, security dealers, home theater installers, and home remodelers eye the aging population and see opportunities -- but what do product vendors need to do to help them succeed? One integrator spelled it out and we re-posted her list -- Susan Estrada's criteria should be examined by tech vendors and hopefuls to see if their current and future offerings will meet dealer expectations.
Please look for an interview with me on ABC News this Friday at 12:30 ET. And for those who might be running around here and there like I will be in the fall -- look on the left side of the website at http://www.ageinplacetech.com for a list of events.
(Apologies to those who already received this as an e-mailed newsletter.)