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Laurie Orlov's blog

Remote Care Technologies – What have they been, what will they be?

This past week offers updates to services, policy, and practice. Expect more announcements moving forward, but matching reimbursement for telehealth with in-person visits was a big deal. Many other changes have been put in place, eliminating co-pays, adding coverage for telehealth for those without insurance, and many others many of them state-by-state (see Florida and California, for example). Senior living companies are readying telehealth services (see Holiday Retirement) and no doubt more will follow.

Telehealth, HIPAA compliance and innovation tracking

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted instant behavior and tech changes.  And not just about hand washing and social distancing.  For the past two days, it’s apparent that the seemingly forever slow growth of telehealth adoption has entered a new, “When can I have that? Yesterday?” phase.   This applies to caring for and treating the 2.5 million in senior living communities, including nursing homes. Some senior living providers have been ahead of the game for some time with telehealth, like Asbury Communities and Holiday Retirement -- offering services for residents at times when physicians cannot be on site. But the interest and use of telehealth in senior living has been accelerating since April 2019, when Medicare Advantage plans began covering it. And further, when senior living companies were enabled to provide their own Medicare advantage plans, that piqued more interest in telehealth.  All that's left is to install the connectivity to make it effective.

Coronavirus – and the impact on older adults in senior care

Consider the directives aimed at senior living communities. Rant on. The Washington State nursing home deaths and the virus presence in multiple nursing homes have an immediate result. Nursing home visits are now restricted nationwide – and it appears, despite lack of clarity, that also means assisted living – the combination spanning 2.5 million nationally. Most people look at the lock-downs as completely sensible, preventing the spread of the virus to such a vulnerable population.  And worker shortages already plaguing this industry are expected to worsen as workers call in sick, out of fear for themselves or their families. 

Innovative offerings from 2020 (virtual) HIMSS

HIMSS was canceled – but the briefings went on to shed a light on what’s new.  When a conference of the scale of the largest annual health IT event HIMSS (possible attendance of 45,000 compared to 2019) is canceled, it sends shudders through the world of the entrepreneurs and providers they wanted to meet, solving thorny care delivery problems, finding customers and partners, gaining visibility to unusual and compelling solutions. And it created a big challenge for the multiple PR firms engaged to help create that visibility to innovation in care. Following cancellation, phone calls replaced nearly all 10 scheduled in-person meetings. In addition, HIMSS is in the process of arranging a digital version of HIMSS. In the meantime, Here are some of their updates, in alphabetical order:

Five new technologies from the 2020 Market Overview

Technology for older adults has become mainstream. The 2020 Market Overview of Technology for Aging is now online.  This 2020 version reflects the growing market interest in the boomer-senior demographic and its position in the Longevity Economy. This tech market is less about products specifically designed for older adults and more about smarter marketing of many consumer offerings that could be useful to them. This includes smartphones, tablets, smart home technology, Voice First hardware and virtual assistants, and in-home sensors. Each of those devices is enabled for older adults by either more targeted marketing and packaging, enabling software, or bundling into training and solutions for in-home caregiving and/or healthcare. this forward-looking study is illustrated with descriptive graphics and includes more than 25 new offerings.  Here are five of them:

Technology to help care for individuals with dementia

The Early Stage Of Dementia. In the early stages, families will worry. A family member may say or forget things that make them wonder if it’s dementia or just a normal part of aging. They should consider persuading their loved one to get an evaluation from a professional. If their loved one is hesitant, a self-assessment could be used to encourage a visit to a professional. A doctor can help determine the type and stage of dementia and whether it is likely to be Alzheimer’s disease or some other type. If it is Alzheimer’s disease (60-80% of those with dementia), there is typically a slow progression over time. The chances are good that their family member can remain at home through early stages, even continuing to live alone. Even after a diagnosis, they'll continue to wonder whether it really is dementia and look for another test they can do at home. But maybe they'll also be concerned with the day-to-day activities of daily living (ADLs), especially if their loved one is living alone. Perhaps there is an unrelated health issue, and they're concerned about whether he/she is taking medications correctly or making it to medical appointments. Issues such as these can be addressed with calendar or reminder technologies.

2020 - What about those Ten Tips for Launching a Product? A Recap

Today or soon you will launch a boomer/senior, home health tech product or service, or maybe a caregiver advisory service.  As your company gets ready to travel into battle or a booth with the sound of pitches all around, it is time to for you to revisit this guidance. Perhaps sometime 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 existing content and research reports on your particular market segment.  Look over this updated checklist that continues to hold true – with updated links and references. If necessary, refine tactics:

2020 Technology trends that benefit older adults and caregivers

In 2020, focus sharpens on technology market categories of aging and caregiving.  AARP published a new report that showed growing interest in technology among those aged 70+.  CES 2020 saw several exhibit areas and innovations focused on older adults and what they need. This past week, Cambia Health released a survey of caregivers, 64% of surveyed caregivers use at least one digital tool to help them with caregiving.SamsungBest Buy and Amazon now group offerings that could be helpful for older adults and those who care for them. What other changes matter for this market? 

Audiologists can help combat social isolation

The hearing loss statistics are daunting. The number is sizable – 38 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. But probably the most startling statistic is related to older adults – half of those age 75+ difficulty hearing. Of those age 70 and older with hearing loss, only 30% have hearing aids.  How is this the status quo?  Even though age is the single greatest predictor of hearing loss, many people wait 7 or more years before attempting to address it. That could include purchasing a sound amplification product (PSAP), hearing aid, or the newest amplification category, hearables. The consequences of untreated hearing loss include social isolation, which itself is related to poorer health outcomes.  

Where is the detailed survey of older people?

AARP recently published several new reports -- all worth a read.  Rant on. The survey reports, about the 50+ gamers and 50+ tech trends, each identify an age band of the 70+, something AARP began a few years ago and kudos to them, that banding continues among some of their research reports.  Not so the Longevity Economy Outlook, which lumps the wealth of the population for those aged 50-100, but no breakout was offered about the spending potential for the population at the higher end of the age bands. From an economic standpoint -- what will they (or their families) spend money on, how is their health, what is the cost of their care, where do they live? Who knows?

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