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Investors and providers must transform AgeTech market from products into suites

The population is aging – and still, the tech solution market is immature.  Investors of all types demonstrate interest in a product here and an offering there.  Competitions highlight product winners; money is raised for one product at a time.  One reason for the immaturity of the market is the behavior of buyers. Senior living companies buy a product for this and an offering for that. The future is predicted to incorporate new technology like AI – but that is always ‘in the future.’ Everyone agrees that AI could enhance retirement living and healthcare, but deployment of new offerings is always described as in the future. No other software categories in tech history – consider office, finance, supply chain –  remain a laundry list of point products when markets expect suites.

Living your best life -- bring on the suites. Blogs from June 2024

Don’t we already have technology to live our best life as we age?  Absolutely, as predicted in 2011, needs have been fulfilled, tech innovation has made it so. But do older adults know about it?  Could they afford it?  Could they deploy it in their homes? Will it enable them to age in place?  Do investors view the ‘best life’ suite of capabilities as an opportunity worthy of funding? The process of pitching one product at a time is well established – and innovators are comfortable with it, as are their judges.  But is that what older adults need?  Or would a suite of offerings, with deployment before the need becomes urgent, make more sense?  Here are the four blog posts from June, 2024:

Scam innovation outpaces all – tech won’t slow it, so train people instead

Losses to scams continue to grow.  One wonders if there is an entire funding source somewhere that pumps money into new and scam incarnations – like the voice cloning scam (this is your panicky daughter! Send money!).  Around forever, though, remember the laundry list beginning with Medicare and Social Security (goal – get money), Publisher’s Clearinghouse (goal – identity theft) and many others per Google AI.  It all added up to $3.4 billion in 2023.

End fragmentation in 2024 -- where are the AgeTech solution suites?

The 2024 media message touts aging in place. It’s what everyone wants to do, even those with homes that are difficult to navigate, long distances from family, and must have major modifications to enable remaining there. Yet you read this message nearly every week  -- Next Avenue lauds the benefits, sponsored by Lively from Best Buy Health.  Fortune tests home monitoring systems they say are critical to Aging in Place.  And USA Today publishes a survey that underscores the desire to age in place. So what is the market of tech that will support this goal?  AARP calls it AgeTech – and has a startup directory of new entrants, including categories of health, mobility, caregiving and more.  But that is a list, not a solution.

How about health tech use by older Americans?

Older adults today are beneficiaries of widespread tech access. And it really does fulfill the 2011 prediction in the AARP report, Connected Living for Social Aging.  Broad access to online capabilities was imagined by experts when that report was written.  They knew that someday high speed Internet access, widespread use of social networks, online access to food delivery, health appointments, shopping, holding video gatherings with families at holidays – all taken for granted now, but then it was just a dream. The good news is that most older adults take advantage of these and many capabilities today. Internet access today is being delivered out to remote rural areas – and most of the 65+ will soon be connected. Then what is the next quality of life frontier for older adults?  

2011's AARP prediction for older adults: technology to live your best life

An old report, the core concept of Connected Living was excellent and predictive.  Thirteen years ago, AARP sponsored research that posed questions about technology’s future role in connecting older adults with families, resources and each other. With input from 30 industry experts, the research attempted to determine how technology could better serve older adults moving forward. The result was a 2011 report called Connected Living for Social Aging: Designing Technology for All. You won’t find it on AARP’s website – it’s too old.  But it is very interesting, especially given that year's low technology adoption and extremely limited use among older adults compared to today. The report accurately predicted the major role technology would take in their lives as they aged, though experts were not exactly sure how.

Did you miss one? Four Aging and Health Tech Blog Posts from May 2024

The month of May -- and the hostility about AI overflowed.  Given the pace of change in AI technology – both the software and its rate of adoption – it’s curious that recently the Wall Street Journal published an aging survey about what customers don’t use and/or like about chatbots. These observations include the usual: ‘hallucinated’ answers; lack of customer awareness that they are talking to a chatbot (really???); the chatbot is too nosy. Or it asked too many questions; or couldn’t handle two questions. Which would make this article, like much of media coverage of AI, sound negative. Too late, adoption happened anyway. This is a commentary, perhaps, on the nature of news media in general, who either are mirroring the AI skepticism in the public, or more typically promoting it. But clearly with chatbot adoption, the public is paying new attention. Sigh.  Here are the four blog posts from May, 2024:

Yesterday’s news – an old survey critiques chatbots

It’s 2024 -- chatbots, yuck? Given the pace of change in AI technology – both the software and its rate of adoption – it’s curious that recently the Wall Street Journal published an aging survey about what customers don’t use and/or like about chatbots. These observations include the usual: ‘hallucinated’ answers; lack of customer awareness that they are talking to a chatbot (really???); too nosy. Or it asked too many questions; couldn’t handle two questions. Which would make this article, like much of media coverage of AI, sound negative. Too late, adoption happened anyway. This is a commentary, perhaps, on the nature of news media in general, who either are mirroring the AI skepticism in the public, or promoting it. But clearly with chatbot adoption, the public is paying new attention. 

Consider the potential for AI technology in Senior Living

You can read about AI -- it's discussed everywhere.  Searches reveal the many AI possibilities and current uses in healthcare. In fact, a Google search reveals multiple paid webinars you can attend today to learn more. Consultants are seizing the opportunity. You can read about AI’s trust issues in Harvard Business Review. (My favorite issue: ‘unknown unknowns.’) And check out healthcare investment in 2024. Follow the money – it might be in claims processing.  And as for care management, did we mention the opportunity for AI-powered digital experiences?  Some care will be delivered and supported with AI in the resident’s home, especially healthcare.

Five new technologies for older adults – May 2024

As the year progresses, the older adult population gets the innovators' attention. As it should be, given the swelling older adult market, growing visibility with investors, and increasing attention from the federal government. Rock Health break out the 65+ in its surveys of health tech ownership. Surveys show that Americans prefer to age in their own homes, also known as aging in place. Pew Research notes that the Centenarian population will triple in the next 30 years, baby boomers are hitting ‘peak 65’ this year, and in just six years, all 72 million baby boomers will be 65+. Within that context, it will continue to be important to note new innovations that could improve their quality of life, such as:

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