A not-so-complimentary NY Times hands-on review of the AARP RealPad.
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Tech for boomers and seniors -- price right, partner often
Pricing matters -- and for senior-housing sales, it's unrealistic. Looking forward today to the Boomer Venture Summit event here in California, where the sun is shining and the San Jose airport is filled with signs of tech this, enterprise that. But I have also heard this week about stalled deployments of tech projects in the non-profit senior housing sector due to low occupancy, confirmed in this May 28 investor report. Other barriers were cited -- lack of budgeted funds, lack of staff to drive projects. And I also heard about lack of demand yesterday in tech that could improve the quality of resident life. The tech was great; the price (an additional $100/month per user) was not.
Oh, and there's that pesky infrastructure, first. I have also heard vendor complaints about the long sales cycle to get a decision, the need to defer to CIOs, the need for infrastructure (like high speed Internet and wireless, for example) before the project can proceed. Meanwhile, senior housing management may not understand or buy in to the process changes required in a broad deployment, especially when it comes to alerting technologies. Who gets the alert? All alerts or exceptions? Required to read reports? How often? How does this relate to risk avoidance? Or does it (as some have said) add to risk -- i.e. if you know something about a resident and don't respond, is your liability worse than if you didn't know? Answer -- not worse.
Sell into senior housing with an eye to long payback cycle. But given the complexity above, vendors need to know how to overcome these barriers and price to tolerance and budget. Consider small pilots with advocates who understand process change and commit, offered at low subscription pricing for the first year, ideally buried in monthly costs for new residents who need the service level implied, free base units, partner projects to bring in infrastructure at discounts. Forced upgrade pricing for all risks negative reaction and backlash as with QuietCare.
So consumer direct sales must be easier. Well, now is where things get tricky -- clearly at one product at a time, price tolerance has been established by PERS vendors like Philips -- $39-59 per month -- REGARDLESS of what the product does, whether it is mobile or not, whether it doubles as a phone, or whatever. So recognizing the long payback cycle to be visible enough to acquire and retain customers, offering family member benefits and/or packaging devices together with other vendors to fit pricing into the above price band makes sense to me. So vendors will say, but that's a money-losing proposition! Yes, this is true. In the first few years of any of these companies -- that should be the expectation. I am happy for you to prove me wrong.
The untapped -- home care agency and GCM resale to consumers. This may be partnerships matter most: packaging of solutions that include care recipient and family benefits (Ankota), smoothing the discharge process from rehab, incorporating communication from-to care providers to family members. Product vendors should partner (or seek referral agent roles) with health professionals to incorporate biometric device limited use and data transmission, placing the tool or device into its wellness context. Again, product vendors must have a well-defined process of where a tech fits, who does what with it, what the ROI is on its use, and how novice users can try with option to sign up.
Thoughts welcome, as always.