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Tech and aging marketplace: Did you miss these posts?

Do VCs matter in the older adult space? According to a Stanford Business School analysis, in today's economy VCs have become a 'dominant force' in the financing of innovative companies. This began, they note, with "a regulatory change in 1979 that permitted pension funds to invest in VC funds."  Okay, but do VCs really matter? Now switch coasts and perspectives, note how a Harvard Business School report picked through six myths about VCs, pretty much debunking the rhetoric in the Stanford report. Most VC funds, especially larger ones, do not outperform the market. "VC financing is the exception, not the norm, for startups" and given the rise of crowd funding and a broad range of angel investors, "VCs will continue to play a significant, but most likely smaller, role in channeling capital to disruptive start-ups." The question to ponder:  which category of investor, and specifically which investor groups, are interested in the older boomer and senior markets?


Can Silicon Valley on demand businesses reshape traditional players?  Consider that Boston taxis and limo firm Boston Coach now have an on demand mobile app, that tech-enabled home care firms may put pressure on traditional home care companies, and that Craigslist and VRBO also compete withAirbnb. Further, consumer shock and awe at Uber surge pricing no doubt contributed to the emergence of external price estimators. You willingly hand over your phone number and address to these on-demand companies to obtain the service -- and trust that they won't package up your information and resell it to advertisers. Also worth considering -- when you buy your next blender, will it be too smart for your own good? When you launch a new economy app from a phone, tablet, or computer, have you looked at the settings and defaults? Have you opted in to share everything? Or did you just trustingly update an app -- just to discover something new, something that you didn't really want after all.


Is the state of health tech just ‘quackery and snake oil’? Consider that online health system portals ("Don't call us, get your test results here") and WebMD symptom searches pioneered version 1.0 of health tech. Now consider that the tsunami of ‘health’ apps and zombie health companies are part of today’s version 2.0 – the over-investment and under-deliverstage, in which billions are invested, turned into zombie companies to be seized by bigger firms, likely to accelerate time-to-market of either a product name or the kernel of a good idea.  In the v3.0, health apps will be curated – recommended or not for a health-related use.  The symptom checker will be augmented with a voice-enabled search -- it's easy now to say to a smartphone "what are the symptoms of arthritis?" and get an abbreviated Mayo Clinic answer.  So then one day a bit of AI will be added: "Here are my symptoms...what do I have?"  And voilà! The silly Firesign Theatre 1968 Beat the Reaper vision will have been tech-enabled.  


No online presence signals market disinterest or worse -- out-of-business. Perhaps your files are filled with material from departed companies.  For their time, perhaps they were great ideas, service offerings or products.  Perhaps these firms thought they could market without channel partners or perhaps they picked the wrong partners. Perhaps they led with a poorly-thought out product description.  Whatever the reason for their exit, future prospects have the right to know that they are gone. Consider Emeritus Senior Living -- online now as part of Brookdale but also immortalized on Wikipedia and elsewhere.  Does it matter that Brookdale tweets?  Of course it does -- it shows that they are still around and view Twitter as the searched environment that it is – that they want their website to be found.  And the redirect from the search for Emeritus?  Ditto.


Communication is a must for all paid services – but in senior care, it is rarely provided.  Let’s say you hire a carpenter to build a room for you while you are on a business trip. Can you imagine them NOT wanting you to know progress when they quit for the day? Nothing in HIPAA prevents email communications -- certainly about health status changes, assuming patient or patient representative wants to receive them.  So you would think that home care agencies and senior living communities would prominently feature their capabilities for communicating with family members.  Could find no indication on Sunrise or Home Instead websites, searching for a clue about what/how communication with families will be provided. Clearly neither see this as a promotable feature that would make them more appealing in our tech-connected times.  

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