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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

Monthly blog archive

Five technologies from LeadingAge 2015 Annual Meeting in Boston

An age-friendly event in young Boston. Last week, LeadingAge returned to Boston after an absence of 23 years, now that the city has a convention center that can hold the 8500 attendees. Perhaps more remarkable, is the desire of the city to become age and dementia-friendly, as opined by the Mayor, Marty Walsh, who received a citation for such efforts. For convention attendees, that may need some more work. The pedestrian walk time duration near the convention center was just enough time to (walk quickly) and only reach the road's median. No surprise – as the town is for the young, and this new area was likely designed by them: Boston's median resident age is 31.7. The event exhibition hall was the expected mix of food service providers, furnishings, bathroom supplies, technology suppliers, and health-related products for the senior living industry.  There were quite a few sizable technology companies known in the CCRC/Senior Housing market, including CDW, Stanley Healthcare, Panasonic, LG CNS, Hamilton CapTel, IN2L, SimpleC, Care Innovations. Here are just five new technologies drawn from the event, with the material from the company websites:

Five new technologies from the 2015 Connected Health Symposium

The Internet of "Healthy" Things.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has provided material for many markets, so the acronym begs for reuse and recycle. Consider the Internet of Caring Things, (gadgets that note worrisome changes in wellbeing). Then there’s the Internet of Everyday Things (think vacuuming and thermostats), the Internet of Transportation Things (that's cars and truck stuff), the Internet of Medical Things (old term: Health IT), etc. The 2015 Connected Health Symposium was sponsored by Boston’s sprawling care delivery system, Partners Healthcare. So last week's IoT boomlet was sub-titled: The Internet of Healthy Things, and included improving patient digital experience through 'better understanding of their emotions' through the use of facial, voice, and other indicators.

For some seniors, will the digital divide ever be closed?

User interfaces are poorly designed – so a new inclusive one must be designed.  A $20 million grant just went to the University of Wisconsin to contribute to a user interface design that could help many deal with technology that has been designed without them in mind. Professor Gregg Vanderheiden says: "There are many people who, because of disability, literacy, digital literacy or aging, can't use the technologies they encounter. As a society we are designing the world out from under these people. When a person encounters something with a digital interface — a computer, Web page, TV, themostat (for the iPhone generation) -- the interface on the device or Web page instantly and automatically changes into a form that the person can understand and use."

Six Offerings from the 2015 Louisville Innovation Summit

Louisville, Kentucky is the aging-industry capital of the United States. The city is a very big player in long-term care, host to a variety of "headquarters in nursing home, rehabilitation, assisted living and home health administration." Last week the city (and a variety of its long-term care industry sponsors) ran an industry summit that included two days of sessions and a bevy of live pitches. It is striking to contemplate the simultaneous growing blur and yet near-complete disconnect between health-related innovations involving doctors and the world of aging care. There has long been a need for disruptive innovation in the long-term care industry -- which, like the health care industry overall, struggles with lower reimbursements, which in turn have resulted in further industry consolidation.

Consider the focus for elder care technologies -- what should it be?

Just as interest is heating up, could adoption stall?  Turns out we’ve been in an innovators' bubble for Digital Health's Hype-and-Hope (HAH). Who knew there were 10 indicators of doom ahead? Stating the obvious, 'entrepreneurs are creating products patients don’t want to use' and there aren’t enough 'reimbursement incentives to drive providers to prescribe.'  And those creating wearable and mobile variants seem to have missed sight of the target market – that is, boomers and beyond.

Boomers and adoption of mobile health -- not so fast

Let's start at the conclusion -- the hype hasn't produced health for boomers.  The new California Health Care Foundation sponsored boomer health tech report is out.  First the bad news. Baby boomers (aged 50-69 in 2015) aren't getting the health innovation investment money's worth, though the spigot is wide open for digital health funding.  Which is odd because they represent the single largest cohort that generates health cost, possibly as a result of their more sedentary lifestyle, compared to the previous generations.  Health care costs are often described in the press as going down, but really only the rate of increase is slowing – according to PwC, the growth rate still outpaces inflation.

Tackling social isolation and seniors -- beyond email and phone calls

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone’s family lived next door? Maybe. The reality is that people move. A lot. Out of California, in big numbers. Into Florida (from the Northeast) in big numbers.  In fact, 10% of the population moved in just one year, 2012-2013. And most Americans don’t move to be near family.  Which explains the vast numbers of people aged 80+ in retiree-attracting locations who have no family nearby.  One can speculate as to why, but likely the locations in which they settled, while great for recreation activities, may have limited job prospects or job growth.

November will matter for Caregivers, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and more

When is a month not just another calendar page? Thanksgiving is not the only festivity in November. It’s the month when PR agencies get to do what they do best – publicize, generate awareness, mobilize media coverage, also known as free content. There’s the laundry list of days to consider.  While October was pretty full of health observance dates, November is also impressive. There's Purple Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month (5 million Americans) not to be confused with World Alzheimer’s Day held September 21 (46 million globally). It’s also National Family Caregiver’s Month (90 million family caregivers) and National Diabetes Month (29 million) and World Diabetes Day (371 million worldwide). Now you see those numbers, now you are aware.

Toward an Internet of Caring Things

We have seen the scary future – and it is behind the firewall.  Let’s say it: The Internet of Things almost seemed useful – smart objects connected together was once a great marketing tag line. Now it is becoming an Orwellian nightmare, not just because Google can drive the car while you text. Now we know your car has millions of lines of code in it and is easily hacked by two guys on a couch with a laptop. Volkswagen’s internal hacking, uh, deception to meet emissions standards has given visibility to the Internet of Cheating Things, not to mention the Internet of Hacked Things (from drones!!), and Scammed Things (from the refrigerator!!). And just think how obsolete CES "crap gadgets" will seem after the 2016 CES – the real tech news will be these long-distance and unwelcome invaders from afar, redirecting gadgets on the show floor.

Five new technologies that can help older adults and their families

Some tech companies don’t see the senior market as an opportunity. They are the Peter Pan tech firms, the ones in which no one (including the customer) ever ages (you might know them as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Twitter). Meanwhile, from Nashville, France, and Germany, others see inclusion and extra services as good business, maybe because this market is pretty much ignored by the gang of four. Here are five companies that vary a platform or a product to make it more useful for an older adult market or service. – All material is derived from the vendor websites or press releases:

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