Technology for Aging in Place, 2017 edition preview

Industry analyst Laurie Orlov previews her annual review of ‘Technology for Aging In Place’ on LinkedIn with six insights into the changes roiling health tech in the US. We’ll start with a favorite point–terminology–and summarize/review each (in bold), not necessarily in order.

“Health Tech” replaces “Digital Health,” begins acknowledging aging. This started well before Brian Dolan’s acknowledgment in Mobihealthnews, as what was ‘digital health’ anyway? This Editor doesn’t relate it to a shift in investment money, more to the 2016 realization by companies and investors that care continuity, meaningful clinician workflow, access to key information, and predictive analytics were a lot more important–and fundable–than trying to figure out how to handle Data Generated by Gadgets.

Niche hardware will fade away – long live software and training. Purpose-built ‘senior tablets’ will likely fade away. The exception will be specialized applications in remote patient monitoring (RPM) for vital signs and in many cases, video, that require adaptation and physical security of standard tablets. These have device connectivity, HIPAA, and FDA (Class I/II) concerns. Other than those, assistive and telehealth apps on tablets, phablets and smartphones with ever-larger screens are enough to manage most needs. An impediment: cost (when will Medicare start assisting with payments for these?), two-year life, dependence on vision, and their occasionally befuddling ways.

Voice-first interfaces will dominate apps and devices. “Instead we will be experimenting with personal assistants or AI-enabled voice first technologies (Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana) which can act as mini service provider interfaces – find an appointment, a ride, song, a restaurant, a hotel, an airplane seat.” In this Editor’s estimation, a Bridge Too Far for this year, maybe 2018. Considerations are cost, intrusiveness, and accuracy in interpreting voice commands. A strong whiff of the Over-Hyped pervades.

Internet of Things (IoT) replaces sensor-based categories. Sensors are part of IoT, so there’s not much of a distinction here, and this falls into ‘home controls’ which may be out of the box or require custom installation. Adoption again runs into the roadblocks of cost and intrusiveness with older people who may be quite reluctant to take on both. And of course there is the security concern, as many of these devices are insecure, eminently hackable, and has been well documented as such.

Tech-enabled home care pressures traditional homecare providers – or does it? ‘What exactly is tech-enabled care? And what will it be in the future?’ Agreed that there will be a lot of thinking in home care about what $200 million in investment in this area actually means. Is this being driven by compliance, or by uncertainty around what Medicare and state Medicaid will pay for in future?

Robotics and virtual reality will continue — as experiments. Sadly, yes, as widespread adoption means investment, and it’s not there on the senior housing level where there are other issues bubbling, such as real estate and resident safety. There are also liability issues around assistance robotics that have not yet been worked out. Exoskeletons–an assistance method this Editor has wanted to see for several years for older adults and the disabled–seems to be stalled at the functionality/expense/weight level.

Study release TBD

Technology for Aging in Place 2016

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/elderly-smartphone.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Laurie Orlov’s updated view of technologies that assist home caregiving/living, and her observations on trends for both boomers and those well over 65, is hot off the (virtual) presses and available here on her website. It is US-market oriented, but the trends explored here will be of interest internationally. The focus in this study is home-based systems for safety, alerts, activity/location tracking (telecare), home care/caregiving tools and what this Editor would call ‘health monitoring light’–med minders and logging apps versus medically-oriented telehealth (vital signs, save for AliveCor) and telemedicine (virtual visits/consults).

Highlights:

  • In communication, internet non-usage among 75+ has declined to 50 percent over the past 15 years.
  • The tablet form factor is losing ground as smartphones get bigger. Older adults and smartphones are beginning to ‘get along’ partly as they grow larger, but also that feature and simple phones are becoming less available.
  • Also losing ground is senior housing–residents are delaying entry to assisted living until they are mid 80s and frailer. Savings and debt in the boomer group is low and high, respectively.
  • Investors are caring more about home care, with large investments ($80 million) in three regional home care worker startups: Honor (San Francisco), Home Hero (Los Angeles), and Hometeam (New York/New Jersey), caregiving apps and chronic care management (CareSync, with an $18 million raise).
  • Dementia care support tools are (finally) developing into its own category.

Surprising conclusions: PERS alerting stays strong, but changes to be mobile-enabled and more cosmetic; a lot of convergence of categories and forms; and the term ‘health tech’ will replace ‘digital health’. Oh my!

eCaring gains Series A financing (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/eCaring-Screenshot.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]Home care management/monitoring system eCaring (New York) this week secured $3.5 million in Series A funding, led by Ascent Biomedical Ventures. Private investor Stephen Jackson will be joining the eCaring board, as well as being on the board of client MJHS. Funding will go to product development, sales and marketing targeted to managed care plans, home health agencies, payers, hospitals and related entities. The CareTracker program is unique in that caregivers/aides with relatively low English language or computer literacy can, through icons, easily input both clinical and behavioral information on a home care patient which summarizes by patient and aggregates at the care manager level. There is also a CarePortrait feature that determines baseline norms for behavior such as activity and sleep. eCaring, with Pace University, was also one of 2013’s PILOT Health Tech NY/NYEDC/Health 2.0 winners for a project with the Henry Street Settlement. A big cheer for CEO/founder Robert Herzog who has been championing this aging services/aging in place technology for several years while QS apps and fitness trackers stole all the buzz at the cocktail parties and accelerators. Release, MedCityNews (photo)

Is ‘mobile health for seniors’ obsolete?

Perhaps it should be. At the ‘mHealth & Boomers:  Reinventing the Dynamics of the Healthcare System’ panel discusssion at the mHealth Summit Monday afternoon, Stephen Johnston, cofounder of Aging 2.0 (and parent of the GENerator accelerator TTA 12 Dec below), and Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch speculated on the future of technology for older adults in an aging market. The most interesting and unique conclusion arrives at the end of the Mobihealthnews article, with Ms. Orlov flatly stating that the category will disappear by 2020. “There will be no aging in place technology market by 2020,” she said. “All technology will be customizable and usable by all categories of people, and we will not have to have technologies that are marketed for seniors.” Hat tips to readers Mike Clark and Luca Sergio via LinkedIn