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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

Monthly blog archive

Consider aging tech and service long-term successes

When firms collapse noisily, peers notice.  Last week several firms commented (anonymously and by name) on the failure of Lively, a sensor-based home monitoring hub that tried too late to pivot into the PERS industry. Why do startups fail, anyway?  In this industry, it appears more often than not that the founders believed they were different from the other players in the market (Lifecomm or AtGuardianAngel); that consumers would shop in BestBuy for an unfamiliar category (Wellcore); that a celebrity would make a big difference (Floh Club).

Curating quality and value of health apps

We (will) want to use apps and wearables to care for ourselves.  The tech industry sees the potential – even as it is unsure how to move the market along. In December, a non-profit startup spun out of MIT with plans to curate health apps for consumers -- versus used by health professionals.

Aging in place tech firm Lively is out of business – what can we learn?

Lively’s failure is making other market entrants nervous – so let’s consider.  This past week, the remaining assets (no people) of the Silicon Valley firm Lively (mylively.com) were acquired. So let’s take a few moments and reflect on what might have happened. What can startups and current players learn from this? Actually, not too much -- Lively was not typical of the industry it entered. It was founded in late 2012, launching in the spring of 2013 and sank quickly, going out of business just last week.

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So wrong: Japan’s hope for the tech-enabled and robotic aging life

Remember the Cyberdine demo of HAL at ASA some years ago? The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) was designed by a venture firm in Japan to help a wheelchair-bound individual stand and move. It was very cool. It was priced at that time (2009) at around $5000. By 2014, the device could be rented for the equivalent of $1400/month. And now it has again been modified. This time, according to the WSJ article about Japanese demographics, the country needs its older laborers to work substantially longer. So a 67-year-old worker in the construction industry can stack wood just like someone half his age. Yay. And then there is the charming Pepper robot, selling for an equivalent of $1600, leading recreational activities in senior housing, charming the residents. In Japan, 13% of the population is 75+, and in another statistic, 15% of the 'elderly' population has dementia.

Hearables -- hearing technology for boomers and beyond

The numbers are daunting -- must have been those rock bands in the 60s and 70s.  Hearing loss is a big problem among baby boomers -- but their propensity to solve it with hearing aids? Not so much. In 2012, there were 4.5 million of those aged 50-59 with hearing loss, but only 4.5% wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids are associated with the stigma of aging -- but facts are facts. Hearing issues may be attributed to overly loud rock bands from long ago.  Hearing aids are costly and typically not covered by insurance, irritating to wear -- just a few reasons cited by various sources. But those serving the boomer health market, take heed -- once boomers are seniors and take their untreated hearing loss with them into older age ranges, their gait is also impacted, and we know with gait issues comes the risk of falling -- and we know how health risks and costs rise with the frequency and severity of falls. Here are some recent technology introductions that can enhance the ability to hear -- text is from the companies' own material:

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Is aging in place technology at the 2.0 stage -- or beyond?

In the exhibit hall, there is often hope, sometimes disappointment. Startups hope for a committed investor, the inked partnership. Or perhaps a positive nod from a health firm or senior-housing community -- sell-once, deploy-many. At the mHealth Summit, now a HIMSS property as part of the multi-show Connected Health Summit, the obvious signal sent by HIMSS was its lack of interest in mobile and wearable mHealth – the summit was just one of several events scheduled at the same time. Attendees looked at the relatively limited scale of the show, noted its IT emphasis, compared to previous – some very big players did not even bother to participate (Walgreens, but not CVS?). Too much health IT, not enough mhealth? Or is all health tech now actually health IT?

Rock Health Survey: Digital Health needs trust -- and older users

Rock Health buries the lead -- consumers don't want to share with tech firms. [Rant on.] Digital health firms are having a tough time, despite upwards of $6 billion from me-too investors, and that's just last year. The Rock Health Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey 2015 of 4017 people is a testimonial to the mismatch between investor optimism and consumer skepticism. On the skepticism front, blame is placed on a variety of factors, including lack of sharing of data across health providers ('Tech companies don't have the problem, it's the siloed health institutions.') But wait. "The contenders–Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Samsung—all fared poorly, with approximately 5 percent of people saying they’d share with these companies. Facebook was the outlier -- only 2% would share health or DNA data with the social network." Duh. Despite a few hysterically enthusiastic reads of this data, like Forbes, a few saw gloom. Kudos to MIT Technology Review and a few others for noting the tech company chart, small and at the end of the report.

Why not an insurance to protect from a disruptive technology future?

Optimistic boomers think future technology will be a piece of cake.  Asked to picture the future, boomers think they will be different from their parents who resisted new technologies.  Even Best buy agrees that this is a boomer-senior problem – that the next generation won’t need genius bars or geek squads. Even boomers insist that their tech-savviness today will serve them well in 20-25 years – they will accommodate whatever ‘innovations’ Silicon Valley designers, all still 20-somethings, will foist on them. Boomers see the unknown tech future as something they can and want to deal with, the way they mastered (sort of) home network setup, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, and Instagram. And they will want to deal with it, because, well, they are boomers.

Five technologies from the 2015 mHealth Summit in DC

Less mHealth and more HealthIT. When Lenovo displays a full size cutaway blade server at the entrance to its booth, you can surmise that the mHealth Summit is more IT than personal/mobile. HIMSS, the media company for health IT events, seems to have lost interest in selling booth space for their mHealth Exhibit Hall. Most visitors I talked with were disappointed at the reduced scale of the event, which is now combined with the Cybersecurity Summit, PopHealth Summit, Global mHealth Forum. Perhaps this was an optimization strategy? Free up the month of December? At any rate here are five new technologies from this event that could potentially benefit boomers and seniors, content is from the companies:

Why do aging services organizations change their names?

What's in a name? At last week’s LeadingAge, CCRCs became Life Plan Communities. The change was made because "continuing care" implies a setting where older adults are being cared for. (Duh.) And apparently 84% of consumers younger than 65 didn’t know what a CCRC was.  Probably young folks also didn’t get it when AAHSA became LeadingAge in 2011. To the outside observer who last attended in 2010, the LeadingAge conference seems unchanged, and the business of the members? Also unchanged. The book of session topics, exhibit hall booth purchasers, and the roles of executives attending – appears to be the same old, same, as it were, old – not-for-profit CCRCs, uh, Life Plan Communities. Oh, and the for-profit equivalent, ALFA, will not to be outdone namewise - that association is now called Argentum (Latin for 'Silver').

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