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Aging in Place Technology Watch November 2011 Newsletter

With tablets, eReaders and smart phones, will individual home broadband matter? I wonder why more isn’t written about rural broadband and FCC initiatives that are intended to expand broadband access at the same time tablet, eReader and smart phone use is exploding?  A data plan for your smart phone or tablet is portable. Some eReaders have built-in 3G cellular services that enable downloading of (some) free books. Carriers may soon lose interest in promoting low-cost broadband for seniors if they ever really cared about it at all. This may soon make the deployment of tablets, smart phones (currently kind of dumb) and eReaders the best way to bring older adults online and connected to family, friends and services.

Everything but the kitchen sink -- what’s a ‘health innovation’ anyway?  Information Week ran an article in early November – 12 Cool Innovations to Keep You Healthy – based on what they encountered at Connected Health in Boston. I won’t comment on the event because I wasn’t there – and all of these technologies are interesting – some are quite familiar. But the Information Week article reminds me that tech for health care (m, e, and tele) has become such a broad concept as to be what you want it to be – always just prior to broad-based deployment, insurance reimbursement, and/or introduction of the next new, new thing at the mHealth Summit or Healthcare Unbound

Market sizes make you wonder. See this Mobile Health App market sizing of $400 million by 2016 and telehealth market at $990 million by 2015 – compared to Health IT market sized at $24 billion. Telehealth is not an emerging market – it emerged a least 10 years ago and never really took off – it has yet to really chip away at health-related spending that threatens to swamp our economic future. That is despite the need for remote management of chronic disease, the increasingly urgent need to keep people from being readmitted to the hospital and the growing prevalence of diabetes (26% of seniors) and CHF (the most common cause of hospitalization of seniors). The $990 million telehealth projection in comparison to the mobile health app market says to me these markets should be consolidated by vendors and investors (the stronger sweeping in the newer and small) into a larger market of multiple form factors and interaction choices.  Of course this depends on whether a smart phone or tablet is nearby – and if it isn’t, let’s see heavily discounted tablets offered by insurers to really help you stay out of the doctors’ offices. That is, once the apps are vetted, the incentives are reversed and it is worth it to doctors to have you stay home.

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