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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Policy action on aging and technology – let's expect results

Should we expect change from aging-related tech policy initiatives? The answer is yes. Many are chosen, ideas are circulated from a long list of participants -- good ideas are collected and then the initiative is disbanded.  Maybe it is because the government changes a year later, but the net result is that recommendations appear, but measurements of status or success may not.  A good example from the past 3 years: the PCAST report, summarized in an ASA publication by David Lindeman: 'Independence, Technology, and Connection in Older Age."  A prior report recommending change in the hearing technology industry may have contributed to or encouraged the sale of PSAPs and the introduction in 2018 sale of over-the-counter hearing aids – and may have encouraged additional categories of hearing aids and the growth of interest in 'hearables.’  So to the degree that there is a connection, that’s a good outcome.

Highlighting Eight Technologies from the 2019 Market Overview

The new trend – tech/services for older adults, not just tech.  When the 2009 Market Overview was completed a decade ago, there were gadgets galore, most introduced with maximum enthusiasm and a shoestring of cash.  Today, perhaps due to pending boomer bulge, innovators and their funders may be having a somewhat easier time, at least in some market categories – health, home care, transportation come to mind.  The other apparent trend is the enthusiasm of partners (health care, senior living, home care) to try out new tech-enabled services that target a problem or opportunity that may have existed a decade ago, but is truly apparent today. Finally, the pace of tech improvement is notable – lower cost and improved utility of on body (or in-room) sensors, predictive analytics, and device integration – with smartphones, health systems, and broader solution sets.  Here are eight of the 33 new offerings from the 2019 Market Overview (material from the vendor/news sites) that deserve a closer look – future posts will highlight others:

It’s time for cameras – nursing homes, assisted living, and home care

Where the baby (or elderly family member) may be.  The WSJ investigation of Care.com has only added a level of urgency about the risky business of finding and placing caregivers in homes. Consider the Care.com CEO’s egregious assertion that "Care.com is a marketplace platform, like Indeed or LinkedIn."  Really, finding someone to watch your baby or your aging father is analogous to finding a worker to fill a job opening in your IT department or seeking a manager to fill out your org chart? And having nasty problems with convicted criminals taking on caregiving roles, with deaths occurring in multiple states, but never aggregated into a nationwide picture of a horror show, until research into incidents was done by a Stanford MBA student? Read that link, please.

Ideas from White House's Technology to Support Aging Adults

Technology and aging R&D – who knew about this task force?  Maybe you were also surprised to see this government report posted last week -- Emerging Technologies to Support an Aging Population.  Of course the aging of the baby boomers (oldest are age 73) is on the minds of lots of businesses and government groups, for various reasons.  Some see a market opportunity in services (home care, home health care, home remodeling).  Some see product sale growth of items (like DME equipment) for an aging population.  Some see housing opportunities or changes to make age-friendlier communities, and some see looming health costs associated with the 50 million individuals now aged 65+. It was a surprise, though, to see this White House report last week, and even more of a surprise to read what’s in it.

Focus on Technology for Older Adults Sharpens in 2019

2019 Technology Market Overview is online this week. When assembling the 2019 tenth anniversary version, it was apparent that this year reflects change -- in the supply-demand balance in the overbuilt senior housing market, in policy changes driving health care services into the home, in market forecasts, and in the mix of vendors who serve the market.   It's in many ways a good-news/bad-news story.  Awareness is growing about an aging demographic, working longer and with longer life expectancy than previous generations.  At the same time, the technology market continues to expand in complexity, privacy and interoperability issues, while not effectively lowering cost of access or prices of useful devices -- and not necessarily boosting the availability of training on their benefits or use.  Here are four updated premises from the 2019 Market Overview of Technology for Older Adults:

2009-19 Market of Technology for Older Adults -- All change, all the time

The more things change...This is the tenth anniversary of the launch of this Market Overview of technology for ‘Aging in Place’, to be re-published in March 2019 – the category of offerings that help enable older adults to remain longer in their home of choice. The launch of that first report was timed in conjunction with the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit of 2009 and offered a chance to speak publicly about a market category that had been largely ignored by tech industry analysts.  As a long-time Forrester analyst, this seemed odd, not unlike the ‘tree falling in the forest’ cliché – if there is no market overview of tech categories, how do vendors position themselves in the market? 

Whatever Happened to Tech-Enabled Home Care?

So much VC money, so little resulting change. Past venture capital investment in home care boggles the mind. It seems only yesterday that Tech-Enabled Home Care was published – including that wonderful Forbes graphic "Why VCs Care More About Home Care."  The Forbes article noted the $200 million invested just in 2016 -- with big money that year putting $60M into ClearCare, $46 million into Care.com and $42 million into Honor as next in line.  The VCs cared, all right – if that money was an indicator. But were they smart? Did they change the dynamics of the home care industry? With smaller investment that year, it's good to see that Envoy (concierge service for independent living), Kindly Care (home care agency), Caremerge (home care platform), and Seniorlink (care coordination) are in their same businesses from 2016 – and others from the period like Envoy and CareLinx received additional investment and moved forward. What happened to other Forbes rock stars?  

Five technology offerings from HIMSS 2019

HIMSS 2019 is where 43,000 health IT enthusiasts engage.    Per their own by-the-numbers charts, you see a picture of the scale of it -- more than 40,000 attendees wanted to be in Orlando, braving weather-related travel obstacles, obtain any required continuing education units – and ideally see as much as possible of the 1300 vendor exhibits. Remembering that adults 65+ are major consumers of healthcare. Here are five of these offerings from 2019 HIMSS, viewed with the lens of caregiving and older adults. 

Six Health and Aging Technology Blog Posts from January, 2019

January 2019 was a l-o-o-o-n-g month.  And not the least because of travel to California, Nevada, Tennessee, and a hop through Atlanta.  Most because it was difficult to absorb and rationalize so much tech news, hype, booths and convention center halls at the Digital Health Summit at CES 2019 – where a step counter status update may have been the most satisfying experience of all at the end of the day. Chattanooga was a visit to the Alexa World Fair, where the song ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ acquired new meaning – clearly the Voice First landscape, well-tracked by Voicebot.AI and Bret Kinsella, is heating up.  Here are the six blog posts to kick off the new year in January 2019:

2019: What Technology Matters for Older Adults

In 2018, technology utilization grew – so did frustrations.  While Internet and social media technology use has plateaued over all age ranges, Facebook still has captured only 41% of the 65+.  Pew’s data showed that smartphone ownership still has not overtaken cellphones among the 65+.   In early 2019, AARP Research published a technology survey taken in 2018 which showed ownership of smartphones growing to 65% of the 65+.  However, that same survey revealed low trust in online safety, and generally low trust in institutions to keep their personal data safe, a justified worry, given the number of data breaches that occurred during 2018.

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