Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Do some professionals think we're speaking another language? Maybe it's just my particular experience. But have you ever tried to discuss aging in place technology with a home care agency or other caregiver group and watched them morph into that blank stare, I-don’t-like-or-trust-technology catatonic state? A while ago, I was at a presentation given by the West Wireless Health Institute. In the room were dozens of caregiver organizations – home care agencies, disease affinity groups, senior centers, etc. The presentation was fascinating – GloCaps, Band-Aid heart monitors -- all kinds of neat health gadgets as well as the challenges that lie ahead with deployment and acceptance.
Creating anxiety among professionals? It seemed to me that half of the caregiver representatives fell asleep during the presentation. This was something I had never seen before in this group, which was normally attentive and interested. Then, we got to the question and answer session. Boy, did they wake up and get fired up.
· What if the technology fails?
· How can you keep it secure?
· I wouldn’t want that kind of big brother technology in my home.
· What about privacy?
· I need to see my doctor in person.
Honestly, I was dumbfounded. How could these folks not see the obvious (to me) advantages of the technologies presented?
Blast from the past. Ah, but then I remembered. Many years ago, I was working on a telephone system and we were introducing voice mail into our organization. Most of the employees hadn’t used voice mail and were slightly concerned about it. But there was one group in particular who were downright panicked about its installation - the secretaries/administrative assistants. Why? Voice mail was too hard, too confusing, too impersonal, too unprofessional. Then, I got the real reason when a one said, “What will I do now? The boss won’t need me to answer his phone calls anymore and I won’t have a job.”
Fear of job loss? The tech industry needs the home care agencies and other caregiver channels to learn to love technology solutions. But, we have an uphill battle ahead of us, especially if a deep-seated fear of job loss is part of the picture. Sun Tsu said, “For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.” The industry must find a way to quantify the rewards of AIP technology deployment for each channel. Increased profits, less liability, lower employee turnover, increased employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction – what does your product or service provide to help professional caregiver organizations?
Susan Estrada is the founder of Happy@Home, a new product testing and review site, and will offer her perspective in this blog from time to time.