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Laurie Orlov's blog

What is the Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults?

Lots of talk about remote care technologies -- but will the 2020 crisis convert to actual technology change?   So much has changed in recent months as a result of Covid-19 -- startling changes that previously were incremental.  Consider reimbursement for telehealth technologies, a wave of free engagement software,  distribution of tablets to senior centers and Echo Dots to senior living, to remote care voice tech for high needs seniors and government-funded competition to combat social isolation.  And no doubt that's just a subset of what's happening as frantic attempts are made to close gaps in communication, care delivery, safety, social isolation and more.  

Five innovations for older adults from Israel

Innovation for older adults – not keeping pace in the US.   We get pretty excited when a new venture firm starts up in the US that focuses on older adults. One imagines that the phone there is ringing off the hook. Why? That makes at least three US VC firms, including Generator Ventures and Linkage Ventures, that acknowledge the older adult technology market, let alone fund early stage entrants. Consider that the 65-and-older population has grown by a third in the past decade –  now at 54 million (or 16% of the US’ 328 million).  Are three VCs enough to cultivate innovation needed to serve older adults, given the shortage of caregivers in homecare, home healthcare and senior living? And that’s today – never mind the projected growth of the segment in the coming years.

 Why industry analysts and PR agencies both matter

Approaching the 20th year in this job category, so let’s reflect.  OPINION ON. Industry analysts wear many hats, but the primary role is to understand and communicate about a particular category market of companies/players.  This includes writing market research documents (blogs, white papers, reports) about the categories that can help position them in comparison to each other and new entrants. It includes giving advice to current and new entrants. Analysts also do custom paid work for some of those companies– such as advisory sessions, surveys, webinars, speaking engagements, or white papers.  Analyst firms typically publish market overviews -- for the tech sector, Gartner Magic Quadrant positioning, Forrester Wave or IDC market surveys.

Five notable technology offerings for older adults

Companies and products worth noting in August.  It may be the dog days of summer, but life and innovation move forward – and so it is with offerings to note that serve older adults. In particular, it is great to see the emergence of Primetime Partners, specifically focused on the aging-related market opportunity. The first, HomeEXCEPT was one missed at the time, emerging from a 2017 AARP Innovation Business Plan competition. The last was offered by a giant US network.  Go figure.

Four Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from July 2020

For older adults, July was a few steps forward…  And a few back.  A new venture capital firm formed that is focused on the older adult market.  Primetime Partners adds a $32 million fund to the miniscule list of VCs both admitting interest AND actually investing in the segment.  At the end of June, the federal government published its status report on aging-related initiatives, which was especially notable for including tech investment in ombudsman programs.  And it became increasingly likely that CMS would make telehealth access for older adults permanent. On the other hand, a new poll noted the prevalence of ageism for older adults and that other Covid-19 related pandemic – loneliness in late life.  More on that in several upcoming white papers. Here are the four July posts:

What’s next with Voice tech and seniors?

Voice tech is pervasive – for some, but hardware market adoption may be slowing.  At the end of April, ninety million US adults were estimated to own smart speakers, one-third of consumers.  The last published eMarketer survey in 2019 sized the software voice assistant market  (Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa et al.) as penetrating one third of the US population – 111.8 million.  But according to a late 2019 AARP survey, only 20% of the 50+ population use voice assistants – and for the 70+, only 12%.  For those that have them, they are being used daily.  What’s holding the others back?  Typically, as in this podcast from 'This Week in Voice' about Aging in Place, one hears the concerns about security and privacy, no doubt because older people have expressed those concerns.   Note that 51% of 5000 responders in this 2020 global marketing survey worry about voice assistants listening to them without their consent. Also note that the survey extended to boomers (those aged 56 to 74) who apparently cared less than younger people.

To connect older adults, when will a trend convert to a mandate?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, tech nice-to-haves have become critical.  Between boosting the deployment of telehealth technologies, once-delayed initiatives became instantly late. Consumers are on board with telehealth, and engagement technologies like smartphones and tablets are offered through Medicare Advantage, plus a wave of other pandemic-related tactics and free offerings appeared.  Thousands of smart speaker devices have been delivered to senior living communities.  Note that PACE programs for frail and low-income elderly are now directed by CMS to use remote technology for "activities that would normally occur on an in-person basis," such as scheduled and unscheduled participant assessments, care planning, monitoring, communication, and other activities.”

Covid-19 and Mid-Year Look at 2020 Tech Trends for Older Adults

That was then… In early 2020, focus sharpened on market categories of aging and caregiving. AARP published a new report that showed growing interest in technology among those aged 70+. The 127,000 CES 2020 attendees in January saw exhibit areas and innovations focused on older adults and what they need. Cambia Health released a survey of caregivers, 64% of surveyed caregivers use at least one digital tool to help them with caregiving. The National Alliance for Caregiving surveyed caregivers including their use of technology (surprisingly low), and Samsung, Best Buy and Amazon now group offerings that could be helpful for older adults and those who care for them.

Considering medication packaging and dispensing during Covid-19

During Covid-19, do older adults take their prescribed meds?  Not necessarily. Medication non-adherence has long been a topic of concern, with the cost of poor adherence amounting to $177 billion each year, 50% of treatment failures, and as many as 25,000 deaths. And according to the Pharmacy Times, Covid-19 has made a problematic situation much worse.  Some pharmacy experts express concern about the pandemic’s side effects of isolation, job loss/loss income, medication costs, missed or unavailable doctor’s appointments, or issues with package delivery.  And the CDC has expressed concern about risks and modified procedures for older adults and pick-up of prescriptions in pharmacies.

Hearing loss: Five teleaudiology offerings in the time of COVID-19

Covid-19 sharpens the benefits of teleaudiology. Half of those aged 75+ and one-third of the 65+ have hearing loss. During the pandemic, telehealth use grew sharply in the care of older adults, enabled by CMS reimbursement changes that likely will be permanent.  It’s also likely that teleaudiology (the utilization of telehealth to provide audiological services) will gain additional importance when face-to-face visits are worrisome, even impossible in some locations. As with other market segments, the hearing health market saw the opportunity to promote their teleaudiology (or tele-audiology) services for those who already own telehealth-capable hearing aids that may need adjustment. Some may require a smartphone app and in-office guidance from the audiologist to get started with it, or at the least, read an explainer about "merging face time with FaceTime." Here are five examples – content is from the vendors:

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