Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Five technology announcements from the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

WHCoA attracted buzz, hopeful announcements and new offerings.  This event was a follow-on to the previous every-decade White House Conferences on Aging -- the most recent of which was the 3-day 2005 White House Conference on Aging. That conference was developed in a hopeful and financially booming time in the US -- its focus was on the pending retirement of the baby boom generation. Today, the economy is not sizzling and since 60 is now the new 50, many of those boomers have not yet retired. Or they've retired from -- or lost -- one job and are now starting a business. The 2005 conference was the first one that had an exhibit hall devoted to technology. This conference was less about a place and more about regional meetings viewings/discussions of the topics and this single day event.   However there were a number of tech-related announcements released in conjunction, including:

As boomers age, they should be considering diabetes health management tools

Digital tools for diabetes prevention and management.  Population health statistics about diabetes are alarming health professionals, particularly concerning today with 26% of older adults having diagnosed (16% of baby boomers and 27% of seniors) and even undiagnosed diabetes. So there's no surprise – innovation is wanted and much needed. New technology startups are popping up all around to help prospective patients prevent the onset of diabetes – and/or manage it more effectively. While some research casts doubt on the sustainability of these tech interventions, that doesn’t stop new entrants from jumping into the fray. Here are six of the tools available – with descriptions from news articles, smartphone-ish vendor sites or far more informative press reports. Would seniors use these?

Look back at innovation competitions to help older adults

Competitions abound – all need groundwork.  Just a few years ago you might have noticed that there were few business plan competitions for products and services targeting the older adult market (the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit begun by Mary Furlong in 2004 was a rare exception.)  When its Letter of Intent page appeared at the end of 2011, CMS innovation grant applications included technology submissions behind the scenes, in partnership with non-profits and healthcare delivery organizations. Then came the $1 billion round two announced in December 2014 – and with that, multiple other tech solutions were included to help deliver significant changes, including health information exchanges, patient engagement, the emerging field of population health, and today’s CMS reimbursement for telehealth.  With these approvals, CMS effectively laid the groundwork for many of the firms that compete today in health segments.

2015: From Niche to Norm -- Technology for Aging in Place

What is the line between a distinct product market and tech customization?  In 2009 when the original Market Overview was published, the search began to identify the small group of entrepreneurs focused on serving seniors – from the AirGuru SV1 Video Phone and Big Screen Live all the way to WellAware and Wellcore.  Why note such a market, you might ask? All of those companies and many others had the heart and focus to try to craft something usable by and for an older adult. In many cases these were inventions compensating for a gap in care and oversight, but most often filling a gap in internet access and/or usability of devices and software.

The WSJ readers are boomers -- someone should tell the tech writers

The Wall Street Journal thinks that tech will change your life. Perhaps it will even rock your 2015.  Rocking their 2015 is just the kind of experience that WSJ readers -- average age of 57 -- really want.  But the Journal, ever hopeful for pushing down the subscriber age into the ad world's desirable 20’s and 30’s, hopes that the readers will be as excited as their current breathless tech columnists Fowler and Stern. So they want its boomer audience to grasp How to Get Ready. But of course! Starting with Windows 10 – which will have a resurrected Start menu and yes, it will improve multi-tasking – by the fall of 2015. Now aren't you excited?

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