Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Like polls, health tech market size and savings could be wrong

In a week where polls were so wrong, predictive science may be shaken.  Watching pollsters apologize this week for missing the obvious, folks wonder if the polling process has flawsPew Research concluded: most pollsters 'underestimated' support for the eventual winner. Duh. Were these polls out of whack due to 'nonresponse bias'-- that certain types of people don’t respond to surveys?  Are non-responders a 'type' or were they were becoming grumpy at the phone's frequent ringing, listening to the hum of the robocaller connections to live pollsters?  And if so much money was spent on conducting polls and research that did not predict the outcome, how about polling and surveys that track and predict technology uptake, particularly in the much-hyped category of digital health? 


Consider smartphone uptake for seniors, required to benefit from some digital health tools. The Pew Research latest number on seniors' smartphone adoption is 30% for the 65+. Sounds reasonable enough, considering the cost of devices and plans, not to mention training.  Hmm, does that jibe with Nielsen's year-older assertion that half of mobile phone owning adults over the age of 55 have a smartphone?  From that same year, a MobileSmith assertion that since 74% of seniors have cell phones (pulled from a Pew report) and since tablet adoption is growing (ditto), health apps for seniors may be an untapped 'gold mine.' Or maybe the apps have been built, but usage, it’s not so much.  And doctors are not yet on board with 'prescribing' health apps,  Meanwhile, the incidence of diabetes among older adults has ballooned for the 65+ by 113% (from 10.1 to 21.5%) from 1993 to 2014, and by 140% (now nearly 20% for those aged 75+).


Digital health market predictions presume that those with disease will use the tools. So are market sizing projections similar to polling?  Uh, yes. They rely on models which in turn rely on assumptions, which in turn may be wrong. Take this 2015 IoT market projection from Goldman Sachs, where the projected health care cost savings in the US are stated as $200 billion and the rise of EMR and smartphone integration, including for behavior modification, are factors that will facilitate gaining those savings, not to mention the '$15 billion commercial opportunity.' Will those savings be realized in a timeframe that enables comparison between what was said and what happened?  Does it matter that these projections may be unrealistic in the face of other forces -- like the accelerating incidence of obesity among older adults -- to the investors in digital health?  No, because digital health hype will continue to blossom at CES 2017. And digital health investment, which rose to $4.5 billion in 2015, continues to cultivate peak optimism startups like Onduo, which received $500 million in funding (!) based on solving one of the 'biggest problems' in healthcare, diabetes, through the marriage of technology and medicine. 


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Comments

Right question to ask, but would argue that technology can be embedded in assistive devices, passively collecting importance biometrics.  Not everything has to be an app on a smartphone.Would also add the broadband access also key.  Huge sections of upstate NY has none.  Just read an article that makes the case for including broadband in any infrastructure improvement funding.

Indeed right Q to ask Laurie.   Peg I hear you and agree w you about opportunity for rightly designed assistive devices passively collecting biometrics.   I'll opine that the user interface and adoption, home installation are bigger factors than broadband.   Overall the data to be transmitted for medical and environment are really small IMO and can be done via dial up modem and phone line (technology still exists).