Related News Articles

11/23/2021

A report from The Gerontechnologist. 

11/19/2021

Seniors are juggling being watched with being on their own.

11/15/2021

Shining a light on AgeTech - what they say is an $8.3 trillion opportunity.

Meet or hear Laurie in one of the following:

Monthly blog archive

You are here

Who should monitor the quality of apps for boomers, seniors, and caregivers?

Five Market Overview versions later -- let's recap.  Launching a business venture takes excessive confidence -- or an extreme lack of common sense. Four years ago, after 7 months of random ranting in a blog, an awkwardly-titled Aging in Place Technology Watch analyst business was launched at the 2009 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit. Both of those were in conjunction with posting and promoting an initial report -- Technology for Aging in Place Market Overview (2009).  Now more than four years later, an updated version has been posted on this site. The press release titled "The Longevity Economy Goes Mobile" is ready -- and so there's time for a bit of reflection. Since 2009, how much has changed: the environment in which technologies are discovered and utilized is radically different. Entrenched social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. make it different; the rise of smart phones and tablets as platforms, so different; and the rise and fall and rise of crowd-funding make starting up a company very different; boatloads of blog sites offering a cacaphony of tidbits also makes learning about new technology difficult -- and different.

For a while, the traditions of the tech industry were extended to the tech market for older adults.  In 2009, a Silicon Valley-style process was clear. Products were created through an expensive and lengthy proposition. Teams of like-minded people would form, ideas would emerge, a pitch would be created, funding sought, and much optimistic hiring would consume the first round of VC or angel funding. Pre-announcements were made, the product was put into limited testing, a beta test would be conducted with a broader audience, speeches and press releases were drafted, a launch event would be funded and cute T-shirts designed. The unveiling would ideally be held at a big trade show like CES – companies would last through their several funding cycles and then most would disappear or be re-incarnated into other companies or identities. For the early years of the tiny senior-focused tech industry, this pattern was carefully imitated, but success for this approach was very limited. In fact the market of buyers for this technology as initially described was very limited. For two examples of T-Shirt-and-splash launches see QuietCare, WellCore or WellAware and many others who know who they are.  Money spent, remaining assets sold. (Note to wannabe selves – fame is fleeting but press releases are forever.)

But with the new process – as barriers to visibility disappear, so goes staying power.  Creating hardware still takes time. But oh, for software, it seems to be a new ballgame. Today’s Kickstarter-get-it-into-iTunes-and-Google-Play-Store process has resulted in an enormous and unvetted bazaar of shouts and murmurs. Developers whose ring tone and white noise apps don’t take off lose interest – they delete their phone numbers from websites and move on -- sometimes without deleting the site. Today, truly anyone can be a software developer. Gazillions of software amateurs (including doctors with still-running practices) are bursting with app ideas, but the the noise-to-signal ratio is alarming for those of you sorting and searching online. The rise and fall of an app (see Pocket Health and Cognovant) within a two-year period or less may be the new normal, thus short-circuiting the T-shirt-to-Trade-Show cycle. This cycle brevity makes the jobs of distributors, retailers, service professionals and consumers more difficult and for consumers, finding what is useful and even still in business is more difficult today. 

Aging services professional organizations, please lead. Start vetting  apps -- if not you, then who?  It’s great that there are tech pavilions at the big aging-services shows like ALFA, ASA, Leading Age, and AARP. It's great that they accept paid exhibitors – but for all of the membership fees paid to the parent hosting organizations, it is unacceptable that none of them play a role of vetting technology on behalf of their members. An article here or a blog post there doesn't cut it. A clearinghouse list does not constitute vetting. The immature management processes of the iTunes and Google Play Stores do not constitute vetting.  Members of these organizations must insist on published criteria for admission of exhibitors -- but that's not enough. Using a portion of dues and fees to pay for the review/testing of apps should be expected -- and using membership funds to pay for these monitors of app obsolescence would really help membership constituent boomers, seniors, and family caregivers. Most of all, monitoring the apps market would help guide the army of professionals in aging-related services who are risk-averse and perhaps a bit tech-phobic. If members demand app market vetting and oversight, it will become part of serving those members. So go forth, members, and demand.

Comments

The free market, just like for everyone else. Oh, and journalists.

By the time the free market and the journalists have voted, the app has crashed. You would never suggest that the free market monitor the quality of devices.

I just don't trust any appointed reviewer. Nor would I like App development to grind to a halt if regulated by the FDA.

I agree that someone or organization should monitor how well the apps work and if the apps are friendly enough that people actually use it. You may have a great app that sounds great but it is not friendly enough for people to use it to benefit people.

Great idea. Get a (government) grant and monitor. Or better still, get continuous funding from the government and spend it on the app monitoring.
I can event imagine the results of this monitoring: Angry Birds redesigned for grandmothers :)

Both Android and iOS have built it functionality to customise display, user bigger fonts, set up contrast and brightness. It's quite enough for the applications with the standard interfaces.

It's much more important to raise awareness among developers that their apps are going to be used by both youngsters and elderly people, so it's just a matter of courtesy to make the interface convenient for all of the users. But there's a huge gap between "raise awareness" and "monitor", don't you think so?

Angry Birds?  It is much more important to raise awareness among developers that there are people out there other than themselves. This is a v1.0 world if Angry Birds is the gold standard.

Guess you haven't seen the Medical, Caregiving category. Or the Alzheimer's category.

There is no gap between raising awareness and monitoring if app stores police themselves, set criteria, and weed out junk and obsolete apps on their own.  Oops, that's not their mission and that's not what they're doing.

 

 

 

 

The FDA will be monitoring medical apps, but currently no one is monitoring health and fitness, or other senior apps for specific standards/quality.
 

I suppose it's too much of a task for a place that creates an app to test it out on the very population that is supposed to use it? Thus, (since that sentence previous was redundant) it would fall on the caregivers and/or the people who are teaching the Senior to use the technology to screen out whether the app is a good one and if the Senior can learn this new task. I work with some Seniors on tech. but we try to keep it simple and repetitive.
 

 

In today's digital world, it is the consumers' responsibility to review products. And smart users will use those reviews to decide if an app is worth downloading or not.

When insurance companies or others start paying for products and services, then someone might actually review these things with that eye. In the meantime, for free or close to free (under $20) apps, there is no business model that makes any sense for reviewing.

Video plus article -- the 5 year anniversary of the Apple Apps store.

In the world of app development it is clearly still the wild west and I can think of no other way of effectively/validly vetting apps, particularly ones that are free, other than what occurs now. No organization is going to commit the time or resource since everything changes so rapidly - the apps, the technology, the needs. The best option (IMHO) is to use the system that Apple added in the App Store (stars and comments) and encourage others to also post comments about their experiences. But remember the Buyer Beware mantra at all times. This crowdsourcing method is the only way to get large numbers of users to provide the kind of feedback you need to get any kind of validity. There are numerous lists of list of apps (we publish on on Maine CITE's website - see http://mainecite.org/index.php/apps-as-assistive-technology-at ) but remember these are typically one person's opinion.

I pay a yearly subscription to Consumer Reports for unlimited access to their consumer testing results. They don't accept advertising, so their research and reporting is reliable. And while they sometimes don't test every single product entry or feature, I get enough information to make good choices on everything from bug spray to vacuum cleaners. They've been in business for maybe 30 years and have a great reputation. AARP, Alzheimers Association, or some other large organization could form this kind of service for the aging, their caregivers, and the professional care community. Some kind of federal assistance from the aging agencies would be appropriate. I think many professional associations would support this service by subscription.

I should think that the Dept of Aging should have oversight along with the National Institute of Health.

I think the biggest problem is getting the right application or device for the individual and I would expect family, caregivers, and physician and home care
providers/ nurses should be involved.  But as I see it there is not ONE device that provides all comprehensive program to fit individuals needs.
Perhaps, the home care nursing association could provide direct oversight linked to the Dept of Aging/Nat Institute of Health.

I gave an earlier comment but another input is people who use the apps should give some type of report of like do not like, why it is helpful, etc. Same way as Waze does for their maps and traffic and now Google maps. Who will start a thing I am not sure but I have a feeling a great new apps for some one to start can come out of this and help everyone and the same time while building a new business apps for themselves.

The VA has chosen to screen and then pilot 1000 iPads distributed to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans including: Care4Caregiver, Health Advocate; Health Assessment Journal; Notifications and Reminders; Pain Coach; PTSD Coach; RxRefill and Summary of Care.

I think this is an illustration of an organization taking on the responsibility of selection and monitoring quality.

Categories

login account