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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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August 2018

Just because a technology can be built, is it acceptable?

Reading the employee microchip article – does it make you shudder?  Observe the development and evolution of modifiers for the word technology.  Words like sustainable, appropriate, autonomous all come to mind. With the micro-chipping of employees – the convenience argument is ultra thin. But why would one think about a microchip for an ailing relative, aka an older adult? (Some say we will all get chipped eventually.)  Consider that these "chips will offer a convenient way to track people — especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia."  But who will opt in to being chipped and tracked in that example?  Employees could opt out – but can a person with dementia opt out?  How different is being micro-chipped from wearing a band with identifying address information? For whom is the 'convenience' of micro-chipping offered?  And because it is possible, should it be deployed?

New Technology Offerings for Caregivers and Families

As summer winds down, innovators rev up.  August is winding down -- the calm before the autumn slew of activity.  Nonetheless, new milestones and partnerships were announced this month, including Embodied Labs becoming a finalist for the Top8 XR Education Prize sponsored by the Bill  Melinda Gates Foundation,  MedMinder reaching 1433 on the Inc5000, the acquisition of GreatCall by BestBuy, and MobileHelp announcing a partnership with LifePod.  And four companies released new offerings to help professional and family caregivers improve monitoring and well-being among older adults:

Robocalls and scams -- a phone-based war against us all

Many years ago, when the phone rang, we eagerly picked it up.  That was then. For good or ill, families want to text, message and chat. And the phone call has turned into a source of harassment and scams. Robocalling is a modern torment, sometimes multiple back-to-back dials from the same source, often spoofing our own cell phone numbers – where answering the phone puts us on a ‘sucker list’ sold to other scammers. Is it Rachel from Cardmember Services or the IRS Phone Scam,  a fake carpet cleaning offer or worse, the disabled veterans scam, or the grandparent 'this is your grandson' scam

Best Buy Acquires GreatCall – What’s it Mean for Best Buy?

First take – this links together multiple Best Buy initiatives, starting in 2011.   Look at the history of Best Buy. First a dabble with the now departed Wellcore in 2011 – clearly the time was not right – the oldest baby boomer turned 72 in 2018, but at 65 in 2010, consumers could not comprehend the utility of a wearable fall detector. But Best Buy executives saw the opportunity and decided to learn more.  More significant in 2011, Best Buy became a founding consortium member in a ‘living lab’ Charter House in Rochester, Minnesota (along with Mayo Clinic). "We believe technology has the potential to foster healthy, productive lives by enabling easier access to information and medical care," says Kurt Hulander, then senior director of health platforms at Best Buy.  

Six Tech (Aging and Health) Blog Posts from July 2018

Voice First technology – triaging the healthcare opportunity.  This week’s Voice of Healthcare Summit in Boston offered up some intriguing attempts to create new Voice First interfaces that inform patients, streamline work, and demonstrate potential (like Answers by Cigna) in versions 2, 3 and beyond.  One of the most intriguing presentations – KidsMD – a Boston Children’s Hospital ‘accelerator’ initiative begun in 2016 and is winning over the staff.  The organization is clearly committed to using Voice First interfaces for patients, for internal questions (“Who is the Charge Nurse on 7 South?”), for hands-free operating room checklists, for post-discharge guidance and for home health (100,000 interactions to date).  They’ve added a skill called AskICU that highlights the potential for ‘hands free, eyes free’ questions that have easy (but difficult to find) answers, like available beds on a floor, or detailed answers like “Medication dosage details from the Code Cart”.   The other hospitals in Boston are well aware of the innovation at Children’s, but other than experiments (like one at Beth Israel Deaconess), nothing of the scope of KidsMD has materialized.  In other blog posts from July: