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12/01/2020

The future is virtual, especially for older people. 

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Technologies from the Argentum 2020 virtual conference and suppliers

It’s been an interesting technology week. New announcements in the voice first category were of particular interest. These include GreatCall’s new Lively Flip phone with voice services and the announcement that Amazon’s Alexa has added 80,000 answers to healthcare questions through a partnership with Digital Health company Sharecare. And today (9/24) it announced CareHub, a way to monitor family members from afar. As if that weren’t enough, a tech track at Argentum’s annual (now virtual) conference included a session on Voice First (with Ryan Elza and Nick Patel, sponsored by CDW Healthcare) in a long list of tech enablement session entries. Also on the Argentum site is a product category listing. Here are five from Argentum 2020:

Aging in place – what goes around comes around -- maybe

Aging in place – the latest trend. Rant on.  People want to age in place – just ask them, as AARP did in 2018.  Of course, in the not-cited part of that survey, only 59% expected to be able to do so. Little did they know that a pandemic was coming, that visiting with aging family would become a nightmare – with people unable to see their relatives for many months.  The death rates from Covid-19 (or with Covid-19) of seniors in nursing homes and assisted living were horrific on the one hand and daunting to prospective move-ins.  So by late 2020, EVERYBODY wants to age in place – an unprecedented trend, says Rock Health – and health innovators have taken note.

Pendent medical alerts evolve – and will disappear

Surprise (maybe) – Philips puts Lifeline business up for auction.  How do I know this? Not from any news article other than PERS Insider, a newly created newsletter for those who track the medical alert industry.  Probably given the Q1 profit drop, they had to do something about the steep revenue decline of their Personal Health businesses.  You may not remember that Philips acquired the Lifeline business in 2006 for $750 million.  What did they get for that investment? The leader in the “Medical Alert/Medical Alarm/PERS space.” You pick the term -- or let the search engine do it in order to show you each paid ad after paid ad.

Five Offerings from the RockHealth Aging in Place Report

Venture interest in Aging in Place – is it a turning point?  RockHealth, the "first venture fund dedicated to digital health”, has declared this year a turning point in the market of offerings for older adults (aka baby boomers, particularly those 65+).  In their September, 2020 Aging in Place report, the authors note that demographics, regulatory and policy changes (aka reimbursement via Medicare Advantage plans), and Covid-19’s boosted use of digital health combine to make this a pivotal point.  The oldest baby boomer, it should be mentioned, is 74 now, but the youngest is 56 and may have aging parents who could benefit, depending on health status, from these five offerings from that report. All text is from the websites of the vendors:

Will telehealth momentum help the oldest adults during Covid-19?

What happens when people avoid health-related in-person care? Rant on. Nearly a third of older adults, according to a National Council on Aging post, are foregoing visits to emergency rooms, afraid of catching the virus. Or they are avoiding outpatient visits, afraid of Covid-19, but also concerned about cost of care.  And the cumulative number of lost visits since mid-March continues to grow.   Family concerns about health and Covid-19 also continue to delay or prevent some move-ins to senior living communities.  Presumably, some avoidance is occurring even in circumstances where there is a pressing need for a move, such as worsening dementia.  But is telehealth viable for the oldest? 

Five Health and Aging Blog Posts from August 2020

August in the time of Covid-19.  Normally at this time of year, one looks back at the summer just passing and ahead to the autumn of trade shows, travel, and even – gasp -- talking in person.  This year, the emergence of Work From Home (with an acronym WFH!) has isolated most in Zoom rooms and revealed decorating styles, bookshelves and intriguing wall art. The world’s largest annual trade event that many tech firms would spend the fall preparing for, CES in January 2021, has moved to all-online. The irreversible telehealth boom may be slowing and yet, older adults may be unable to benefit.  More from August 2020:

What is the Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults?

Lots of talk about remote care technologies -- but will the 2020 crisis convert to actual technology change?   So much has changed in recent months as a result of Covid-19 -- startling changes that previously were incremental.  Consider reimbursement for telehealth technologies, a wave of free engagement software,  distribution of tablets to senior centers and Echo Dots to senior living, to remote care voice tech for high needs seniors and government-funded competition to combat social isolation.  And no doubt that's just a subset of what's happening as frantic attempts are made to close gaps in communication, care delivery, safety, social isolation and more.  

Five innovations for older adults from Israel

Innovation for older adults – not keeping pace in the US.   We get pretty excited when a new venture firm starts up in the US that focuses on older adults. One imagines that the phone there is ringing off the hook. Why? That makes at least three US VC firms, including Generator Ventures and Linkage Ventures, that acknowledge the older adult technology market, let alone fund early stage entrants. Consider that the 65-and-older population has grown by a third in the past decade –  now at 54 million (or 16% of the US’ 328 million).  Are three VCs enough to cultivate innovation needed to serve older adults, given the shortage of caregivers in homecare, home healthcare and senior living? And that’s today – never mind the projected growth of the segment in the coming years.

 Why industry analysts and PR agencies both matter

Approaching the 20th year in this job category, so let’s reflect.  OPINION ON. Industry analysts wear many hats, but the primary role is to understand and communicate about a particular category market of companies/players.  This includes writing market research documents (blogs, white papers, reports) about the categories that can help position them in comparison to each other and new entrants. It includes giving advice to current and new entrants. Analysts also do custom paid work for some of those companies– such as advisory sessions, surveys, webinars, speaking engagements, or white papers.  Analyst firms typically publish market overviews -- for the tech sector, Gartner Magic Quadrant positioning, Forrester Wave or IDC market surveys.

Five notable technology offerings for older adults

Companies and products worth noting in August.  It may be the dog days of summer, but life and innovation move forward – and so it is with offerings to note that serve older adults. In particular, it is great to see the emergence of Primetime Partners, specifically focused on the aging-related market opportunity. The first, HomeEXCEPT was one missed at the time, emerging from a 2017 AARP Innovation Business Plan competition. The last was offered by a giant US network.  Go figure.

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