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Aging in Place Technology Watch June 2011 Newsletter

Google Health, a solution for a problem you didn't know you had. Why did Google launch Google Health in 2008 -- and shut it down this week? I picture folks there imagining in our health-conscious, self-care oriented Internet searchers, yearning for a place to park our personal records, and that the advertisers, knowing this, would ultimately layer in oodles of ads that related specifically our growing health self-management needs and wants. Sorting and organizing our personal health (or elder care) information on an online website -- it sounds like a good idea. From the Times article in 2008: "The companies all hope to capitalize eventually on the trend of increasingly seeking health information online, and the potential of Internet tools to help consumers manage their own health care and medical spending."  Well, they got the former quite right. With more than 60,000 sites to look for a name-that-diagnosis factoid, we are both desperately and patiently seeking health information (sadly not necessarily correlating with our improved health). But unless our insurance companies mandated and incented us to enter data online -- or our post-clipboard era doctors required it, do we really want to put our med lists (or any other personal information lists) on advertising-sponsored sites (including WebMD)? If our credit card files can be hacked and siphoned away, even just thinking our health information (or that our aging parents) is out there, reusable, intentionally or not, should give vendors pause -- and so it did -- bye bye, Google Health.

Is LinkedIn a profession-making buzz board? I'm a crazy member of 23+ groups, several of which push digests of interesting articles out every day. These plus Google alerts keep me pretty well-informed, adding in pushed press releases from PR firms, and news alerts from the NY Times -- how can you not know what's going on? From today's e-mail digest from LinkedIn's Wireless Health: "[1] manager's choice, [11] new discussions, [8] new comments and [2] new jobs on LinkedIn." A similar plethora from Mature Markets, National Senior living Providers as well as Home Care Sales and Marketing. LinkedIn now also suggests 5 pages of other groups I may be interested in joining. Talking to several startup vendors this week, they want to know whether products like theirs are in the market, how to get the word out broadly to possible market segments, how to find business partners who may be interested in reselling their technologies. Spend a day on social networking investigation and sign-up, I suggest. Then I take another look at Facebook and Twitter -- which have relatively unsorted stuff (especially with Twitter, it's hard to say it isn't 'stuff') spilling out -- and I look again at the LinkedIn digests from these many groups. And I see the difference between: on the LinkedIn hand, marketing, networking, collaborating, peer discussions -- which help advance professions and the knowledge about them. On the other 'social network' side, the (business) uses of Facebook and Twitter seem to fulfill a transactional need for spot advertising and enable individual promotions for their followers. Both useful in their own way.

Lurk and launch. Speaking of launching, here are three blog posts from this past year on launching a business in the aging in place technology space. As you know from lurking on, categories of technologies include communication and engagement; health and wellness; home safety and security; and contribution and learning. Overlaying all of those (see Market Overview) -- caregiving technologies for the multiple roles who participate in the care of older adults. If you are contemplating one of those categories for an entrance, please review the following (excerpts shown here):

Ten Tips for Launching a product or services. "In a few short months, numerous newcomer companies will be prowling the vast aisles of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in search of possible channel partners, media attention and a list of who is in their space. In conjunction with that event, perhaps they will 'officially' launch. Or perhaps an existing company will officially launch a new product or service. Here is a checklist as derived from recent encounters and discussions."

Tech for aging in place -- still waiting, integrators wanted.  "Product potential and interest is there.   Within the past few weeks I have been briefed by no fewer than 10 firms about products/solutions being developed to serve the 'aging in place' consumer -- a few are launched: they represent some combination of offerings for senior, caregiver, provider -- with and without devices directly in the home. Some of these startups are steadfastly convinced that offerings can be sold directly through consumer channels, while those with more configurable products may see the need to recruit channel partners to get into the market. Meanwhile, in the past year or so, I have heard from various local service providers (some have registered in this Forum entry) about delivering solutions, even testing them in labs, to help seniors. This is good."

Marketing and selling technology for aging in place. "Consider the ten steps that vendor marketers should check off as they prepare to go to market with a technology for boomers and seniors. Since I still see some vendor sites that do not reflect the usefulness of the product, that do not place the product in an overall problem/solution context, do not offer a video of a satisfied user or enable the viewer to enlarge text, I am getting a feeling that folks might not have seen it -- or maybe disagree."

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*** And if you or your organization would like more guidance in any of these areas, learn more about Aging in Place Technology Watch offers of retainer-based services.***

Hope to see you soon at one place or the other (noted on the home page as well).

All the best!




Those interested in a very thoughtful piece from frog design on what Google failed to do with their health initiative might want to check out this article:

If in fact a company wants to provide a solution "to a problem you didn't know you had" as Laurie states, then it sure better give you good reasons to utilize it as well as integrate the individual solution into an ecosystem of other solutions that are already serving you.

Joel Shapira
Founder of Beyond Age

Google Health may have sounded like a great idea to the developers, but most people are very cautious - or paranoid - about putting their health data online and rightly so, due to HIPPA concerns...

Free electronic health records are NEVER FREE, especially when ADS are involved. Someone expects to profit from accessing your data.

My husband and I are "of a certain age", and go to numerous doctors. So it's very important and helpful to have an up-to-date printout of our meds and other health data for each visit. We can safely store and print our health data in a secure online service, OnTimeRx. For a reasonable fee, we get the online convenience with NO Commercials! NO Privacy issues!