Meet or hear Laurie in one of the following:

InsureTech, Washington, DC, May 30, 2019

Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, June 6, 2019

DC Longevity Summit, December, 2019

 

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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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What mattered -- blog posts in aging and technology in 2015

2015 was an intriguing year for technology and aging. The market opportunity has become more apparent, as the oldest boomers reached aged 69.  Just for instance: there were multiple age-related fund launches; home care with tech underpinnings began to attract the lemming-like VCs; PERS offerings began to be integrated; speaking to devices (not typing) became increasingly possible; smartphones became tablet alternatives; senior housing organizations attempted re-branding of their offerings, likely to better match boomerdom. As we get closer to 2016 and summarizing key forward-looking trends, consider blog posts from 2015.


Tackling social isolation and seniors – beyond email and phone calls. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone’s family lived next door? Maybe. The reality is that people move. A lot. Out of California, in big numbers. Into Florida (from the Northeast) in big numbers.  In fact, 10% of the population moved in just one year, 2012-2013. And most Americans don’t move to be near family.  Which explains the vast numbers of people aged 80+ in retiree-attracting locations who have no family nearby.  One can speculate as to why, but likely the locations in which they settled, while great for recreation activities, may have limited job prospects or job growth.


Toward an Internet of Caring Things. We have seen the scary future – and it is behind the firewall.  Let’s say it: The Internet of Things almost seemed useful – smart objects connected together was once a great marketing tag line. Now it is becoming an Orwellian nightmare, not just because Google can drive the car while you text. Now we know your car has millions of lines of code in it and is easily hacked by two guys on a couch with a laptop. Volkswagen’s internal hacking, uh, deception to meet emissions standards has given visibility to the Internet of Cheating Things, not to mention the Internet of Hacked Things (from drones!!), and Scammed Things (from the refrigerator).


Medical Alerts – Seller and comparison sites mislead.  The medical alert industry chugs on…and websites mislead.  [Rant on] Fear-based medical alert marketing enjoys robust web traffic, an enhancement to its senior-centric TV advertising. Searchers with an at-risk family member or who saw an older woman at the bottom of a TV staircase can find a plethora of matches. That particular you-know-who staircase vendor was founded in 1987 and salvaged a slogan from a defunct originator, adding the word 'help' in its next trademarked life. But by now, shouldn’t this market have been transformed by technology or undergone a business model change that would mandate a new name?  Well, it truly was transformed by a technology – SEO. Go ahead, Google the term. The not-so-medical alert is an SEO marvel, injecting old content with fresh dates. As you scan the list, note multi-device review sites that appear to be pay-to-play, whether they are or not.


Listen up – will new pricing of data plans further limit seniors? If you don’t like the way carriers serve older adults, just wait, it could get worse.   A few months ago we learned that carriers are pushing tablets, ha! Just as tablet sales overall are slowing. Carriers obviously read that Gartner report about slowing tablet sales -- and then 'encouraged' us to add a tablet to a plan for $10/month for up to 5GB of data. How generous. That’s not a lot of movies, maybe 2.5 hours of streaming HD per month. But what plan? How to encourage data usage with wireless data plans? No problem, those have all changed, with AT&T following T-Mobile and Verizon aping AT&T. And all of this following the precedent long set in Europe – now the full price of the phone is disclosed ($650 for an iPhone!). You could buy the phone upfront, but not to worry – there’s a monthly installment plan for the list price phone.


Redfin’s best cities for technology-assisted living – you can’t make this up. You would have to read this to believe.  RANT ON.  It pains me to actually link to the original article, because that was, of course, this real estate company’s goal – so this link is to the link that has the link.  Nela Richardson, the first chief economist with hot real estate website Redfin, has announced that cities with Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and CareLinx provide the most economical and 'tech-enabled' alternatives to assisted living.  How’d that get calculated, you might ask? Seniors or their caregivers "would have at least $1,500 each month to spend [after accounting for the mortgage] on the cost of services booked through Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and Carelinx versus the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility."


Consumers lose: Medical hacking, 911 failure, Google rules. Ho hum – another day, another few million records are hacked. Rant on. It’s a small hack really, only 4.5 million impacted by the UCLA Medical System cyber attack. But what a relief, the impacted individuals will receive identity theft recovery and restoration services and credit monitoring at no cost. That category of service firm is buying plenty of ads all around and may be one of the boom businesses of 2015.  Because of course the 4.5 million must be added to the 22 million Federal government individuals and the 80 million Anthem Blue Cross individuals -- for starters.  And the solution?  A new services industry emerges with vendors popping up in every flavor. As for fines for those that let the data get out of the bag? As for the notorious insurance industry leader, Anthem (first quarter net income $865.2 million) has received a fine of $1.7 million – but fines for data breaches remain rare.


Speak to us – voice interfaces make the audible difference.  Alexa made me write about voice.  We signed up early for this Amazon Echo home control/music library accessed through a Pringle can looking box.  True, it needs to be connected to broadband and yes, it needs to be plugged into a wall outlet. But it has no keyboard, only voice input through a lighted-ring of seven microphones listening, continuously learning speech patterns. What to ask this smart-aleck Alexa?  Well, it turns out, it can play an amazing ‘shuffle’ of music you may have purchased through Amazon, but if you are an Amazon Prime member ($99/year), it can also play any of a million songs.  And it has the ability to set up logic scripts (If This, Then That) – links between wake-up alarms and turning on the lights. Oh, and did you know that to encourage voice-tech adoption, Amazon is also launching a $100 million Alexa Fund?


Let’s remember ten tips for startups entering the market. So you want to launch a boomer/senior, home health tech product or service.  As your new company get ready to travel into battle later this spring at the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, the Digital Health Summer Summit, Health 2.0, mHealth Summit, and all remaining 2015 launch events to-be-marketed, it is time to for you to revisit this guidance. Perhaps some time soon, your new or existing company will officially launch a new product or service, or perhaps a long-awaited, over-described and much-anticipated offering will finally ship. First read the AARP-sponsored Challenging Innovators research report. Then look over this mid-year updated checklist that continues to hold true – with a few links that are merely examples.


Smartphone usage by older adults is up – why? Times change, so do phones. One year ago according to the latest from Pew, 18% of the 65+ had a smartphone – today, 27% have them. Why? Well, for one thing, when a phone breaks, smartphones are easy to find in the store as directed by a rep and online, while ‘basic’ phones (Verizon has 6 unique basic phones) are buried under pre-paid plans. AT&T's two unique brands are very difficult to find, with a handful of non-contract Go Phones – found online after wading through a gazillion smartphone choices. Also, 41% of people aged 65-69 are smartphone owners, perhaps side effects of working longer, greater longevity, families with pics, videos, and chats that must be seen NOW. But still, more than 70% of the 41 million 65+ still do not have smartphones. This likely isn’t because of the cost of the plans (43% of smartphone owners pay between $50 and $100) – only 10% of the 65+ are statistically classified as living in poverty.


Caregiving technology needs a version 2.0 upgrade. The dilemma of distance -- boomers have parents who live in, for example, Florida. The oldest boomer is 69. They’re not all that healthy. The still-living parent(s) may be even less healthy. In this age of medical specialization and long distance families, many aging women living alone: they need to see doctors, perhaps multiple doctors. Even if the children of aging parents live nearby, experiencing enhanced intergenerational proximity (!), the aging parent may ultimately live alone. With life expectancy for woman now averaging 88+, it is safe to say that older boomers are still involved in coordinating the care of their aging parent/mother. And they’re doing it from a distance – since the boomer woman with a career may not reside in Florida. Consider that Florida is now on track to become the 3rd largest state – with population growth primarily from migration. The state now has a median age of 74 for its 65+ population, one-quarter of that population widowed. But the dilemma of distance crisscrosses the country from California to Maine, from upstate New York to New Mexico.

Comments

Excellent post!! Could you please provide the names of the funds that launched.
Thanks

Has anyone had any dealings with them? GENerator seems to be all hype and AARP seems to look at investing as asset management by using Morgan Stanley and not partnering with a true VC

I would greatly appreciate any feedback as my company is looking to raise its Series A round

Thanks 

Michael Neuvirth

Laurie,


With all due respect--and I have great respect for you and your work-- I still think cost is an issue for seniors re technology ( even though poverty rates have declined over the years, mostly because of SS.) I was thinking maybe this is because I live in rural America, where many are widows whose husbands got no pensions. But at least in the world of hearing technology, I think it's a factor in access. Especially if you start drilling into the actual numbers and what would be available for the average person in terms of discretionary spending after out of pocket costs for health care, etc. And actual income even if they are not at extremely low poverty rate income.


Just a thought...happy new year and thanks.


For example, please  this recent kaiser study...http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/poverty-among-seniors-an-updated-ana...


 


"According to the report, while 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below $14,400 (the federal poverty level is $11,670) and half have incomes below $23,500, 1 percent have incomes exceeding $171,650. "

Over the last few weeks I encountered a gentlemen who was proud of his new hearing aids -- these could automatically adjust volume levels differentiating between nearby music, talking, outdoors, etc.  $7000 for these devices -- not covered by insurance.

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