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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Technology and Aging Developments – April 2017 Newsletter

April -- a veritable shower of data, press announcements, and pitches. It was a short but information-filled month of events, announcements, pitches.  The month marked our first foray into the American Community Survey Census data about technology usage of older adults. Much more is possible with this data – including greater inspection of housing, family structure, income as correlated with technology interest (including telehealth).  Each of the April blog posts can be (re)read in full by clicking on the paragraph heading.   

Market sizing, trending, and targeting all depend on data.   Marketers understand this – and their sources, NielsenPew Research and AARP have, for many years, provided data food for marketers. And so every tech company ever launched builds its business case on tech adoption trends (and gaps) derived from these sources.  So what’s the survey population makeup? Consider Nielsen (global, online, n=30,000); Pew Internet use (US, 2015 n=3004); and AARP (US, 2016, n=1500).  These are all declared to be statistically valid samples. But what if the sample size was 3.5 million households, comprising 1% of the US population, as was the case in the last three years of American Community Surveys (ACS) as collected by the US Census Bureau

Is it true that caregivers don’t use technology?  According to AARP, 40 million caregivers are taking care of an older, sicker person -- so says an oft-quoted 2013 AARP Public Policy Report statistic. A different AARP/Catalyst 2016 survey asserts only 7% of these caregivers use technology to help them. What is the 'technology' they won't use? And what is the theory as to why they won’t? Says Jeff Makowka of AARP: "Since many such caregivers also hold down regular jobs, they simply don’t have time to try some new technology." But if they’re working (or of working age), three-fourths of them have smartphones. And given the data-hogging nature of smartphones, all are fairly new. But wait, he also cited an example of an Amazon Echo as deployed for a family member with dementia -- enabling endless repetition of questions like 'What time is it?' etc. Okay, we have to ask, is the Echo a 'caregiving technology?' How about Facebook, described as a caregiver 'mecca'? Do survey respondents consider those technologies when asked?

What is it about pitch events – do they really help startups?  We checked out the winners of AARP’s Live Pitch 2017. Hopefully the best pitches of best offerings will be funded. But that funding is linked to detailed criteria (see the Link-age Ventures criteria as an example.)  Or investment history, as with the five Generator Ventures, can be viewed online.  Startups know that first multiple pitch events will smooth rough edges of the pitch and help refine the offering itself.  For example, one year ago note that GoGoGrandparent started as telephone-based way to call Uber for, sigh, the founder’s grandmother, now refined as a nationwide “services that help families take better care of older adults.” Pitches represent a single step in this process for obtaining feedback, scoping markets, seeking seed funding, later stage rounds -- ultimately scaling the offering into long-term viability, with referrers, resellers, and revenue.  With that as context, consider these three pitch events.

AARP’s Innovation 50+ Live Pitch -- what's new? This marathon tried to put 20 pounds of entrants (culled from many more) into the 10-pound bag of a two-day pitch event across two broad categories. So following this trend towards compression, we will leave FinTech to others and just focus on the Caregiving Health Technology firms. While the pitch may be new, some, as noted, may not be new. Placed in context by taking note of what’s in (or was in) market and similar to these finalists. In the alphabetical order presented and updated with winners noted in the post -- link to available websites or descriptions.

In 2017, has telehealth and remotely-delivered care evolved?  Compared to our published research dated 2011, times may have changed. As surveys have indicated, the healthcare industry is interested and more committed to mainstream use of telehealth technologies.  And telehealth vendors want to help doctors and patients gain mutual benefit of care provided at home versus hospital, especially to lower care delivery costs; augment care for patients in locations far from a specialist or during off-hours; and continue growing the ability of patients and families to self-monitor chronic disease.  In 2016, CMS published a list of covered telehealth services, and no doubt commitment to cost reductions (and reimbursements) in the coming years will result in an expanded list and further industry commitment.  Perhaps ATA's smaller conference will evolve to become part of other sets of conferences, like Connected Health in Boston or part of the ever-growing HiMSS conference collection.