Blogs

Launching your boomer/senior, health tech product in 2014

Don’t quit your day job just yet – do the homework first.  Starting a new company in the boomer/senior, mHealth/Digital Health tech space? I hear fairly regularly from those who have this intent.  Maybe they have a prototype they have created. When I don’t hear first, sometimes I catch who they are through the modern-day miracle of Google Alerts. So maybe we chat, maybe I take a look at a website, learn how they are going about getting their funding, and I ask if they know about products that may be similar to what they are doing.  Or have they browsed online catalogs, or spoken to non-profits (if that is one of the target audiences).  Have they studied market sizings and surveys from Nielsen to Pew to the exuberant Semico Research? And so on.  So here’s an updated set of advice for the pre-early stage: >>> Read more . . .

Health-related smartphone apps -- not ready for prime time

Our smartphones, ourselves – are they useful for managing our own health? In 2009, Eric Topol, the wireless health medical prognosticator, noted that 'we would soon use our smart phones to monitor our chronic conditions.'  Well, maybe – it all depends on what he meant by 'soon.' App developers are obviously struggling to identify a) an app that is useful and b) who the cohort is that would use it. Should you count recording weight, keeping food logs and tracking exercise as 'monitoring' a chronic condition?  It might be more useful to put a smartphone in your pocket (assuming it fits) than to get a grip on another wearable but easily-lost small device. Take a look at the wearable band market and non-usage by the 55+.   Note the easily-lost Fitbit (my sister has lost 3, I have long lost 2) in this Verizon Boomer Voice blog.   >>> Read more . . .

Training offline seniors to be online

The Internet is crawling with tech training programs. But as the latest Pew study spells out, fewer than half of those aged 75+ are online. Ironically for the half that are not online, bank branches are closing – with the biggest decline in Florida. The explanation?  So say the banks: "mobile and online banking has eliminated the need for branches."  The Bank of America example: 9% of all check deposits in the fourth quarter came from mobile devices. And I wonder what percentage of those check deposits were made by people aged 75+?  Oh, I wonder if they know that only 18% of that age group owns a smart phone or tablet? But forward motion is inexorable – we know how badly Social Security wanted out of the paper-check business. We also know how worrisome it can be to manage privacy and security on tablets and smart phones.  Which brings us to the topic of training older adults about smart use of technology – where is the training and what does it cover? >>> Read more . . .

Sensor-based home monitoring for seniors – calibrating market progress in 2014

Sensor-based home monitoring is a maturing market.  A long time ago (2008) when this website was first launched, the benefits and difficulties of getting home-monitoring technology deployed were discussed. Perhaps families were ignorant about the technology, didn’t want to interfere or could not tell their aging parents what to do. Many observed that lack of knowledge about home monitoring solutions was the number one problem. Or maybe the senior's privacy concern was the problem. Or maybe complexity of installation and the need for an installer was the problem?  Searching the topic of 'home monitoring' on this site reveals a long list of companies launching, announcing, updating, partnering with providers, dealers, insurers -- as well as comments about barriers to adoption. >>> Read more . . .

Four new offerings from StartUp Health

Checking out startups offerings that can benefit adults -- including older adults. StartUp Health is a New York-based accelerator fostering 'health and wellness innovation.'  Its purpose is to help entrepreneurs accepted into its Academy gain "access to customers, capital, resources, and a peer group support network." As many are observing today, if it's useful and technology-based, a startup seems likely to categorize themselves as 'health and wellness'. And some of these health and wellness innovators are specifically targeting aspects of care that can be very helpful to all, but could be particularly useful for older adults.  All information comes from the websites of the companies themselves: >>> Read more . . .

Pew Research underscores the tech isolation of real seniors

The majority of real seniors are not online.   The Pew technology survey is up to date – and it is a reflection that tech, training, and perception of benefit have a ways to go with real seniors – aged 75+. Fewer than half (47%) of the 75-79 age group and 37% of the 80+ are online.  And if they were, most do not have broadband access at home. And among the 65+, the song and dance about ease of use of smart phones and tablets is not resonating – 40% of seniors say that physical challenges make some activities difficult – and for those, even fewer go online. And for all the social pressure and media assumptions about online use, non-users do not believe they are at a real disadvantage. >>> Read more . . .

Four recent technology innovations from outside the US

Not made in the USA. Over the years, Google alerts have both helped find technologies that would be useful to older adults -- and because this site has focused largely on US companies and initiatives, those same alerts sometimes seem to be all about happenings in upstate New York or new initiatives in New Jersey. So here is an attempt to start a conversation about great ideas for technology innovations from outside the US that can be helpful to seniors.  Emphasis is 'start' -- and additions are welcome. >>> Read more . . .

Personal Emergency Response Systems aren’t personal about health

Watching PERS and consumer health tech industries is like watching parallel worlds.  You have to notice. Although offerings are now mobile, they are not moving closer to consumer health tech.  Wander from website to website of the leading players – Philips, Tunstall, ADT, Lifestation, LifeAlert, and so on, in the self-described Medical Alarm industry, regardless of who the company is, services are described and compared in this chart by VRI in the context of the 'emergency' dimension of Personal Emergency Response System/Service.  Okay, you’ve looked over the laundry list of companies in the VRI-crafted chart. Now add a few more mobile PERS offerings that aren’t on the chart – like Verizon Sure Response, Tunstall, GreatCall’s Five Star, MobileHelp, AT&T and Numera.  Verizon’s site offers 'convenience calling' (that is, minutes that can be used for non-emergencies); Numera’s site mentions a future health aspect of its Libris offering; and AT&T’s site talks about Health.  Otherwise, the emphasis is about averting or responding to an emergency. >>> Read more . . .

Tracking the trackers -- the need for Boomer Health Tech Watch

Digital health tech is the answer – but what are the questions? What new gadgets and apps can make consumers take better care of their own health?  What are the gadgets and apps that help doctors take care of consumers?  Let’s assume that the combination of tech that helps consumers and doctors equals Digital Health.  In this emerging world, do doctors encourage consumers to give these new apps and gadgets a try? What is the digital technology uptake among the worried well and the not-so-well boomer population – a giant and amorphous demographic blob that some marketers want to cultivate.  Even if we added those modifiers that help divide boomers into cohorts – words like caregiving, wealthy, unmarried, educated, grandparents, rural -- it is a challenge for innovators to peer through the just right Digital Health lens and see clearly who is targeted, what they need, and who will pay for the next new thing. >>> Read more . . .

Five New Technologies for Aging in Place – Jan-Feb 2014

The start of a new year -- it extends past CES!  Let's remind ourselves -- press releases matter. As you know by now, becoming quiet about a firm's products and offerings is bad business practice – silence is assumed to be a bad sign – and the aging dates of content on websites is even worse. That’s because the technology market waits for no man – or woman. And to their PR credit, tech companies get that. So in the past few months new versions and offerings of technology solutions have been swept up in press releases on this site – perhaps missed by readers, so here they are, extracted into a single blog post. As has been the case previously, all of the text is extracted from the announcements by the technology firms themselves. >>> Read more . . .

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