Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Five tech and aging blog posts from October 2019

October was a long and extravagant month for the tech market.  Between trade events, including the Connected Health Conference in Boston, LeadingAge in San Diego, HLTH in Las Vegas, the Aging 2.0 Revolutionize Conference in Boston which was highlighted by the reveal of Venture Capital investor Dominic Endicott's $2 Trillion Age-Tech market size, making the Consumer Technology Association's $29 Billion look cautious. No doubt there were also many smaller events throughout the country. Here are the October blog posts:

New Technology and Services Disrupt Hearing Aid Ecosystem

Hearing aids should appeal to those with significant hearing loss.  It’s a given that hearing loss interferes with communication – which itself is a risk for social isolation – as well as fall risk and dementia.  Ironically, according to the recently published and comprehensive MarketTrak10 survey, the decision to wear them is so often delayed years – the delay resulting from excuses like “hear well enough; can’t afford; too expensive; no coverage.”  Given the associated risks and isolation from delay, it is surprising that until recently, the devices were well-matched with the excuses.  What’s changed to overcome all of these excuses?

Hearing aid pricing and weak insurance – older adults lose out

You may have seen that rechargeable hearing aid commercial.   What was most striking about the commercial to a hearing industry outsider is the upfront commentary on what sounded like the predatory price of hearing aids – providers “charge whatever they can get.”   Several interesting aspects to that commercial – but the most interesting was that comment.  Who is ‘they’, how much can they ‘get’, and is there insurance that pays for them?  This is in an era where hearing aids have evolved to incorporate embedded AI, fall detection, direct connections for phone calls, and numerous other features and functions.

Highlighting Eight Technologies from the 2019 Market Overview

The new trend – tech/services for older adults, not just tech.  When the 2009 Market Overview was completed a decade ago, there were gadgets galore, most introduced with maximum enthusiasm and a shoestring of cash.  Today, perhaps due to pending boomer bulge, innovators and their funders may be having a somewhat easier time, at least in some market categories – health, home care, transportation come to mind.  The other apparent trend is the enthusiasm of partners (health care, senior living, home care) to try out new tech-enabled services that target a problem or opportunity that may have existed a decade ago, but is truly apparent today. Finally, the pace of tech improvement is notable – lower cost and improved utility of on body (or in-room) sensors, predictive analytics, and device integration – with smartphones, health systems, and broader solution sets.  Here are eight of the 33 new offerings from the 2019 Market Overview (material from the vendor/news sites) that deserve a closer look – future posts will highlight others:

Ideas from White House's Technology to Support Aging Adults

Technology and aging R&D – who knew about this task force?  Maybe you were also surprised to see this government report posted last week -- Emerging Technologies to Support an Aging Population.  Of course the aging of the baby boomers (oldest are age 73) is on the minds of lots of businesses and government groups, for various reasons.  Some see a market opportunity in services (home care, home health care, home remodeling).  Some see product sale growth of items (like DME equipment) for an aging population.  Some see housing opportunities or changes to make age-friendlier communities, and some see looming health costs associated with the 50 million individuals now aged 65+. It was a surprise, though, to see this White House report last week, and even more of a surprise to read what’s in it.

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