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Four Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from July 2020

For older adults, July was a few steps forward…  And a few back.  A new venture capital firm formed that is focused on the older adult market.  Primetime Partners adds a $32 million fund to the miniscule list of VCs both admitting interest AND actually investing in the segment.  At the end of June, the federal government published its status report on aging-related initiatives, which was especially notable for including tech investment in ombudsman programs.  And it became increasingly likely that CMS would make telehealth access for older adults permanent. On the other hand, a new poll noted the prevalence of ageism for older adults and that other Covid-19 related pandemic – loneliness in late life.  More on that in several upcoming white papers. Here are the four July posts:

Hearing loss:  Covid-19 sharpens the benefits of teleaudiology. Half of those aged 75+ and one-third of the 65+ have hearing loss. During the pandemic, telehealth use grew sharply in the care of older adults, enabled by CMS reimbursement changes that likely will be permanent. It’s also likely that teleaudiology (the utilization of telehealth to provide audiological services) will gain additional importance when face-to-face visits are worrisome, even impossible in some locations. As with other market segments, the hearing health market saw the opportunity to promote their teleaudiology (or tele-audiology) services for those who already own telehealth-capable hearing aids that may need adjustment. Some may require a smartphone app and in-office guidance from the audiologist to get started with it, or at the least, read an explainer about "merging face time with FaceTime."  Read more.

During Covid-19, do older adults take their prescribed meds? Not necessarily. Medication non-adherence has long been a topic of concern, with the cost of poor adherence amounting to $177 billion each year, 50% of treatment failures, and as many as 25,000 deaths. And according to the Pharmacy Times, Covid-19 has made a problematic situation much worse. Some pharmacy experts express concern about the pandemic’s side effects of isolation, job loss/loss income, medication costs, missed or unavailable doctor’s appointments, or issues with package delivery. And the CDC has expressed concern about risks and modified procedures for older adults and pick-up of prescriptions in pharmacies.  Read more.

Covid-19 and Mid-Year Look at 2020 Tech Trends for Older Adults. In early 2020, focus sharpened on market categories of aging and caregiving. AARP published a new report that showed growing interest in technology among those aged 70+. The 127,000 CES 2020 attendees in January saw exhibit areas and innovations focused on older adults and what they need. Cambia Health released a survey of caregivers, 64% of surveyed caregivers use at least one digital tool to help them with caregiving. The National Alliance for Caregiving surveyed caregivers about their use of technology (surprisingly low), and Samsung, Best Buy and Amazon now group offerings that could be helpful for older adults and those who care for them.   Read more.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, tech nice-to-haves have become critical. Between boosting the deployment of telehealth technologies, once-delayed initiatives became instantly late. Consumers are on board with telehealth, and engagement technologies like smartphones and tablets are offered through Medicare Advantage, plus a wave of other pandemic-related tactics and free offerings appeared. Thousands of smart speaker devices have been delivered to senior living communities. Note that PACE programs for frail and low-income elderly are now directed by CMS to use remote technology for "activities that would normally occur on an in-person basis," such as scheduled and unscheduled participant assessments, care planning, monitoring, communication, and other activities.  Read more.