Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Towards five characteristics of health tech market maturity

Failure, success or both? This week is the kick off of Aging in America and the What's Next Boomer Business Summit.  So it is time to consider what's next after the bungling and missteps of so-called Digital Health. Gartner did the Digital Health industry a service at the end of 2014, though given the hype and hoopla of 2015, it was likely missed. From this chart, we can see projected peaks in interest in quantified self, smart robots, mobile health, wearable consumer interfaces – all of which were big, big, big in 2014.  And a UK consultant seized the day – and created the Digital Health Hype Cycle chart.


Something happened during 2015, however. Investors were likely disillusioned with consumers and mobile health – and the term Digital Health took over, much of it, wait for it…Health IT!   Was it because of abandonment of fitness wearables? Will everyone really buy a smartwatch because of Apple? Depends on who you mean by everyone. What really was the reason behind Digital Health funding dropping $1.2 billion year over year? Or maybe they weren’t disillusioned? Is it a market when a category is a kitchen sink of genomics, wellness, doctor productivity and mobile health apps? Consumer categories that include patient or consumer experience top the list, followed by wellness/benefits and workflow. Hmm – are those are consumer categories?  At the end of the 2015 year, MobilHealth News gave up and decided to call the whole shebang "Health Tech."  Is it tech for consumers?  Not so much. 


Gartner’s cycle notes that eventually markets do mature.  So what would maturity look like in the Health Tech world as it applies to boomers/seniors? Will the smartwatch be the center of the boomer universe?  Maybe if the font is enlarged and they never need charging. Right now Apple is fixated on doctors, who may not appreciate all of the business partnerships reflected in that watch. Tablets were the center of the innovation universe in 2010 – now sales (not just iPad) are declining as phones become ever-larger. Is the mature tablet market one in which the devices are turned over to seniors? Will that also be true of smartphones, where 56% of boomers have them, don’t like mobile ads – and according to Deloitte, they may not download ANY apps.


Five characteristics of Digital Health market maturity. What would boomers most want to have in our mature Digital Health world? Here’s a starting list – comments welcome. 1) Their privacy is well protected by their insurers, doctors, software, social network and device makers; 2) Their health information is well-integrated into the multi-company health provider world – no need to carry around those CDs of EHRs); 3) Trends in their health patterns are noticed by care providers who use predictive analytics to note possible problems); 4) Boomers do less driving to specialists, more remote consultations, which are appropriately reimbursed through Medicare; 5) Fitness gadgets are replaced by well-being devices and systems.

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