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When will a business make money at providing aging in place technologies?
I think the answer to this question is both simple and complicated — and the complicated part is why it is taking so long to see clear results.
Simple — when there is agreement about the urgency, payment model, and target audience among the triumvirate of category providers.
That’s where the complexity surfaces. We’re talking about Home-related industries (interior design, architect, building contractor), information technology providers (like Intel, Microsoft, Honeywell, Cisco), and the health care supply chain.
Let’s say you want to stay in your home. Your kids (or your doctor) are worried about you or how your spouse will cope. How to get your kids (or your doctor) to not be worried? How do you (or your spouse) feel safer staying in the current home longer?
It seems so simple: you (and your kids and your doctor) want to know about a retrofit package for your home — with coupons and suggestions for vendors of grab bars and voice-activated security systems, as well as names of service providers who can put it all in. Right now, home builders don’t see to have a big interest in this retrofit package.
You want a catalog of products — like the ‘Nana’ technologies, described by Andrew Carle at George Mason University, all available now, but not packaged (except on his website and in USA Today!). Catalogers don’t seem to be interested in a Brookstone’s or LL Bean catalog of these already available products, like medication dispensers, fall detection monitors, video games to exercise the brain and other cognitive fitness, talking thermostats, robotic vacuum cleaners, over-sized remotes, mail chimes, and large-button phones.
And you want the geriatric care management industry — which does not seem to be organized or interested in collective endorsement of technology packages to help them preserve the well-being of their clients.
But all of this is going to change — as several phenomena converge: first, aging boomers (no more to be said there), second as university and corporate researchers push more — and more mature — product to market (as Intel promises it will), and finally, as the healthcare structure of payment and advocacy shifts. For example, when Medigap insurers lower the premiums of those who show receipts from a checklist set of products.
But I’ll have more thoughts on this after I do more research, described on Aging in Place website forum.
And I will be at next week’s AARP Life @50+ convention in Washington — one among 25,000 people trying to see who is trying to sell what. Can’t wait!