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Six Aging and Health Blog Posts from the Prolific Month of June 2022

The Meta Pixel problem – who would have thought? Never a dull moment in tech world. Meta (how tiresome, we know it is Facebook) has been sending patient data from hospital systems back to Facebook (appointments, doctor, and a host of other patient-specific data) through the use of a tracking pixel.   Results from a study identifying the problem are now published, and the first of possibly multiple lawsuits are being file for mishandling personal patient data. The point of the pixel was to help in tracking consumer responses to advertising. Like many privacy violations and data misuse on the Internet, consumers are usually powerless other than voting with our feet. With this lawsuit, coupled with government attempts to crack down on big tech, is the tide is turning?  Here are six blog posts from the month of June:

PERS Insider helpfully listed the most common PERS Google searches. The result was bleak and informative. Their website identifies the top item (16,000 searches, results with ads) as a 'medical alert bracelet'. Except for the deep-pocketed Medical Guardian which bought ads everywhere, these were all bracelets to help emergency workers determine a health issue. The next one, Medical alert systems (14K searches) turned up ads for multi-vendor sales sites with names like 10 best, 5 best in Florida, and look, there's Medical Guardian! The US News site was not an ad itself, but the article was filled with ads for devices. Ditto for ConsumerAffairs.com. Best and worst companies – more ads -- and Medical Guardian. Even 'I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up' is one of top four search terms (4800), no doubt from those miserable LifeAlert ads. Read more.

Homecare: Consider a vision for 'connected care.' This was conceived by Andrea Cohen, Founder and Vice-Chair of HouseWorks, a large home care company started in Boston. Andrea noted, "When employed to its fullest, remote care technology improves every aspect of how care is delivered in the home. Imagine what's possible when every stakeholder wins." The vision: Change the work process to produce Engaged Caregivers, a Connected Care Team, and Informed Families. Why does this matter now? The home care industry is enormously challenged today -- soaring demand, labor shortages and worker (and client) retention challenges. At the same time, a vulnerable older adult population lacks adequate care in many parts of the country, sometimes due to wage issues, but more often due to the overall fierce competition for workers across industries. Yet the home care industry can attract those who care about older adults and provide them with improved working conditions that underpin their tasks with technology that improves efficiency and care effectiveness.

Falling short on solving the care crisis. A well-known consulting firm assesses the growing care gap. Boston Consulting Group analyzed the care crisis recently asserts that the lack of paid or unpaid care workers to provide care of children or aging parents may prevent them from filling unfilled jobs, noting the 99 million people today who are not in the workforce. y do an interesting analysis built around the premise that some people who could work do not because of care responsibilities. The conclusion -- the one hand, quality affordable care could be subsidized so that more would want to do the work, filling the unfilled care jobs (day care, elder care). And family members could thus remain in jobs that they would otherwise abandon to provide care. Okay, hard to argue with this macro view, but there are some key points missing. Take a look at Exhibit One in the document which asserts that nearly 50 million people, aged 18-64, could become part of the care labor force, particularly those that have children and remain at home to care for them.

Voice assistants made device hardware actually seem smart. By 2018, more technology (and associated improvements) could be found in the Cloud. Besides these invisible upgrades, the voice assistant technology has been continually improving – and if the user could be made aware of those improvements (a BIG IF), they might find them to be very useful. Consider voice-enabled smart plugs, thermostats, audio books, traffic directions, weather, and news updates – and answers to questions that might matter about health, social connection, and personal safety. Today 95 million million US adults have smart speakers and 85% of US adults own a smartphone. Both platforms are now in position to deliver value and benefit to older users -- and thus the opportunity to speak and be heard.

Is there a search problem to solve? Or are we just lazy searchers? The Atlantic tried to assess the Decline of Google as a search tool, citing a variety of fairly technical arguments as to why, sourcing commentary from bloggers and ‘experts’ who track and analyze search engines. The major complaint over time seems to have been the growing presence of ads and perception of selective ranking in favor of Google’s own products (like showing YouTube videos) and/or business alliances. And certainly there are multiple blogs out there that condemn Google as a search tool, suggesting one of many other search tools out there, including Microsoft Bing, Yahoo and (mostly) non-tracking DuckDuckGo. The conclusion of the Atlantic article would seem to be facetious – ‘Google is still useful for many’, considering that 91% of searches are done with it.

[See new report The State of Voice-AI and Older Adults 2022]

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