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Miss one of these? Six aging and health tech blog posts from April and May

Is 2022 the tipping point for technology and older adults? Scanning through the collection of blog posts from April and May, the obvious has finally occurred. Baby boomers are aging and want to stay in their homes as long as feasible. Soon all 54 million of them will be over 65. Many will need to be monitored in their home for chronic diseases and in-home risk of falling – Amazon noticed with Alexa Together – Verizon noticed with its Care Smart Watch. Home care companies, senior living companies, skilled nursing facilities are all desperate for workers to address this overwhelming market. At the insistence of customers and prospects, technology offerings (beyond telehealth) will be required in all of these settings, especially at home -- and so as long-predicted, they must proliferate and improve. Consider these six blog posts from April and May 2022.

Staffing issues continue to plague senior-focused care organizations. The news articles pile up – assisted living and nursing home staffing shortages; stranding older adults without home health care; keeping patients in hospitals longer because of lack of care; nursing home staffing crisis; Medicaid paying family members to provide care, low wages and low unemployment worsen care situation, and on and on. And the shortage of care workers is mirrored in other industries – signs are posted everywhere seeking workers in the midst of the ‘great resignation.’ Read more.

We are used to citing population surveys to cite trends. Tech adoption among older adults is clearly increasing. The growth has been tracked most recently in survey samples that compared the most recent with prior time periods: AARP surveyed 2063 and Pew Research surveyed 1502 adults. And Linkage Connect surveys the oldest, with a sizable sample of 2398 older adults. For all three, broadband access and smartphone ownership and use is growing. But what if tech adoption came from a sample size of 2.9 million households pulled from the 5-year census (American Community Survey/ACS) data? That was posted in November of 2021, with surveying ending in 2020 (just before Covid-19) and was made available within the last month. Good news -- seventy-six percent of the 65+ population as of 2020 has access to broadband -- and tech adoption has clearly risen since 2015. One might assume that post-Covid census data will be even more significant. Read more.

Covid-19 fallout pushed the care industries into the home. A sweeping set of changes from that time that may have appeared temporary. But a number of these changes are likely permanent. Telehealth vs. in-person: the Covid-19 public health emergency declaration to reimburse doctors for providing telehealth services for Medicare recipients has been repeatedly renewed. Bills are in Congress will make it permanent. Medical practices are now offering choices to patients – in person or telehealth? Home care vs. assisted living – the demand is for home care. Hospitals continue to close, especially in rural areas. Acute care delivery at home for Medicare recipients has been endorsed by the American Hospital Association – and bills supporting it may pass. Finally, the CMS-created codes for remote patient monitoring (RPM) can be used for reimbursement of chronic disease monitoring services. Read more.

ATA 2022: Five telehealth offerings for older adults. ATA’s live event return to Boston. This week the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) conference, charmingly titled “What Now? Creating Opportunity in a Time of Uncertainty,” returned to a live format event in Boston. For those wondering, the event title relates to 'reimbursement uncertainties, workflow challenges, and investments needed.' Most of the exhibitor list of companies' focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of provider workflow and businesses. But some offered innovation for patients, whether in virtual visits and care, vital sign measurement, and improvements to patient experience. One might note that individuals 55 and older account for more than half of healthcare spending, with costs rising with age. Here are five from the ATA event, content from vendor websites: Read more.

Isn’t it time for a voice-enabled tech concierge? Tech complexity for new users is getting worse. And it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention to Apple new releases, new versions of Android phones and other apps like Spotify. And then there’s the PC that runs out of memory – just encountered yesterday. You want to see what that means by checking the manual. How naïve. No manual. So you do what everyone who has just encountered an error message does. You search the tech forums, find the example of what happened and voilà, there’s the fix. Certainly that must be what senior living residents and older adults living at home do, not to mention the of-course sizable tech staff working in senior living and elder care. Oops. Read more.

The census really knows tech usage and the 65+. When it comes to people, the US Census has all the data. From its American Community Survey (ACS) summary files and detailed tables, we know as of November, 2021, for example, the US population (315 million), the number of housing units (133 million) and whether they are owner-occupied. Further, it tells the number of people in geographic locations, education and marital status, employment status (173 million), the percent aged 65+ (more than 55 million as of the date of the most recent survey). The questionnaire is publicly available on the Census website. While many of the questions are intriguing (and used for redistricting) and the data results are much-reported, technology ownership is rarely discussed. So here are some snapshots of changes in the ACS data from 2015 to 2021. Read more.

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