What goes around comes around and gets a new market sizing. You may have seen a rather giddy press release recently that sized the market for aging in place technology at a cool $30 billion by 2017. The global market for elder care technologies will hit $7.2 billion by 2018 and as for home monitoring of seniors, the number of units of wearable wireless devices will climb from 3 million units (2011) to 36 million units by 2017, and users of family locator services (including PERS) will reach 70 million by 2016. It’s a good thing these sizings forecast three to four years from now. That will give everyone time to overcome barriers that hamstring utilization today -- like controlling the cost of device, figuring out who pays for them and will the target user actually be able to afford to use it/wear it to help them stay safe or will the doctor and supporting staff remain engaged to help the user keep their chronic disease(s) under control?
All size of sizings aside, the tipping point for expectations may be near. While broad adoption may be years away, the changing of the minds appears to have begun, making the market sizings feasible. Telehealth and remote (patient) monitoring are in the cards of the Veterans Administration, CMS is expanding its coverage of telehealth for Medicare patients, and even the senior housing industry mulls the potential for sensor-based monitoring of residents. Note on that last one – mulls the potential, something that has been mulled many times over the past five years. However, between the VA and CMS, remote patient monitoring by 2018 seems likely. The US PERS market hugs its market size close to the industry vest, but it is certainly within the 3 million global units (1 million of which are in the US).
Investors will put their money into tech categories for older adults. Even if sales lag expectations, investors will be reassured by the latest press that helps them identify the business ROI for senior housing, or perhaps they will like thinking about products like Lively as a sensor network for older folks -- in either case, investor money and guidance is now available, helping to get companies jump-started on their real work search for partners, retail sales channels and customers. Considering that investors must put their money someplace and that the market of mobile health technologies for the young and mostly-healthy may be crowded, we should expect market growth – on the funding side. Now if someone could just figure out how to engage the end user -- that will close the loop linking market size to product-service to benefit.