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Consider Challenging Innovators to Design for older adults

Consumers don't care about products -- they want solutions. What year were those words said? "The senior home monitoring market has historically been more aligned with home security and security installer/dealers than with the hands-on consumer/family. But in fact, home security dealers were not well-prepared to market to seniors. Now innovation (versus Digital Health quackery) and price disruption are pushing those offerings into the hands of consumers, where what matters is simplicity. And what matters is ease of integration into what exists PLUS availability of training on how to use it."  See how the advice from a previous research report stands up to scrutiny -- published exactly two years ago -- repeated today with new links right before the 2016 Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit:

  1. Find incubators and accelerators that spur innovation for older adults. Within the past five years, incubators, accelerators, and venture capital funding partnerships have surfaced to spur innovation and speed up time to market, for example,Aging 2.0 GENerator. Some have sponsored innovation contests, some host startup companies, some award funding, and others provide access to pilot user communities. Beginning in 2013, AARP collaborated with StartupHealth and subsequently with Parks Associates to identify caregiving tech opportunities, leading to deals in tech categories relevant to the 50+. Live pitch events are so numerous, some startups in 2016 are constantly on the road.
  2. Leverage policy changes – for providers of care, insurers.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) spurred consolidation of providers and related companies. It also produced a number of perceived opportunities for health and technology startups that focused on the newly insured.  Medicare reimbursement changes like penalties for readmission triggered consolidation of hospitals with short-term rehab facilities and related services. And as a byproduct of Medicaid expansion, a plethora of startups emerged to serve the now-covered population.
  3. Precipitate price disruption – a byproduct of innovation or miniaturization. Innovators seize an opportunity offer a product or service that is distinctly different and at a lower price point. Other disruptors include low-cost Personal Sound Amplification Products, or PSAPs, for hearing assistance, wearables that help families track seniors, tablets replacing home monitoring interfaces, or smarter (and waterproof) phones replacing feature handsets or PERS. And for firms using these underlying technologies in age-related segments, re-purposing them for new solutions can enable other applied uses that also benefit baby boomers.
  4. Utilize crowdfunding to validate concept and gain early customers. Since passage of the JOBS Act in 2012 eased security regulations, crowdfunding has mushroomed. From charitable efforts to post-graduate startups, time-limited crowdfunding campaigns raised over $2 billion by the end of 2012, reaching $5 billion by the end of 2013.  Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other theme or regionally focused crowdfunding sites might be one first step to verify possibilities.
  5.  Unseat the gorilla in the market.   Engaging appropriate home care or senior housing is typically a search driven from urgent need. It has depended on a lead referral business in which facilities pay referral services following move-in -- or a franchise operation that depends on recruiting a low-paid, high turnover workforce. Large players command name recognition or long-standing, not entirely transparent relationships between referral sources and senior housing companies. Even with referrals, finding good home care or an appropriate and affordable space for a family member is labor-intensive the existence of a product or market. Even when campaigns fail, they succeed in getting a message out. And sometimes the product idea is so good, they raise more money than requested.
  6. Innovate at life-stage transition points. Why has the Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) grown far beyond $1.5 billion in the US, more than 18 billion globally in annual revenue? Because it addresses a need-based challenge that worries families and care providers. Typically that challenge occurs after a life event marking a transition to feeling or being more at risk. The transition can result from a newly-diagnosed chronic disease with mobility limitations or a sudden fall leading to hospitalization.  Innovators see multiple opportunities in these care transitions – technologies to help older adults maintain independence, minimize care costs by keeping a person at home, or helping them function after a fall.
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Sage Advice from Laurie Orlov! Must Read for Anyone trying to Enter the Senior Care Marketplace!!!


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