Research about baby boomers and their use of consumer health technologies.

Up is down and down is up in the world of health technology

Tired of typing mHealth/wearable health/mobile health/digital health/HIT?  It's a rosy-eyed worlds of health, accelerators, and wide-eyed venture capitalists. Because investors are so excited - another multiple has emerged -- the growth of accelerators for (select one of the previous). So that's the reason this site is called xHealthtech.com.  Consider the advice author Lisa Suennen gave:  "Accelerators that focus on digital health should hone in on a specific area -- such as cancer."  Let's go that one better:  Companies that enter accelerator programs should meet criteria (like this one in Life Sciences) -- rather than the vagueness of StartUp Health $5 billion so far into "entrepreneurs transforming healthcare" and the Rock Health Report of $2.3 billion, much of it into digital health, which in the old days was just called IT, or maybe even Health IT).  Entrants should not be characterized by preliminary solutions looking for a problem -- instead they should offer a solution to a problem that has been scoped (at least by them), validated by those that can deploy, and designed with market research underpinning assertions.

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Text messaging, portals and email influence on boomer health

Healthcare portals are popular for provider groups.  Just about every health system has felt or will be compelled to create an information-rich web portal with a plethora of pertinent health advice, scheduling apps, and an almost kitchen sink level of features. As of 2012, 57% already had them in place; typically they are specific to a health group, or perhaps more significantly, to a proprietary EHR implementation. Headaches arising from proprietary lock-ins are the unintended side effect, not to mention the need to integrate with a particular medical practice that may also have a practice management application -- and perhaps the doctors spend time at multiple hospitals, each with their own EMR/EHR system.

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Seven health technologies that can matter to boomers

Baby boomers aren't all that healthy compared to seniors. Last year JAMA published a study that compared baby boomer health status to that of the previous generation's health status during the same age range.  The results were not good -- only 13.2% reported excellent health in comparison to 32% of the previous generation. The boomers had noticeably higher incidence of obesity, did less exercise, and had a greater incidence of hypertension. Not surprisingly, they were more likely to take medication for various conditions.  But they outpace the prior generation in smartphone use and are well-versed in searching the Internet for health information. So assuming they had a smartphone, tablet or web access, what emerging health apps (information from the vendor websites) might be useful?

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Turn off that app -- health tech investment needs focus on privacy and security

Regulatory roadblock -- the FDA wants to review apps.  Surprise - counting steps is not the same as tracking arrhythmia. Is it really so crazy that an app that tracks irregular heartbeats should be reviewed by the FDA? Are you surprised that there security issues in mobile apps?  Is it surprising that Apple is hiring people with expertise at bringing health tech to market? Are we concerned that this is 'slowing down' Silicon Valley, when less than a third of popular health apps have privacy policies?  What's going on with the Silicon Valley obsession with health anyway? At 41, Sergey Brin seems to be having his first mid-life crisis -- that could explain why Google is so focused on health and the body, but of course not data sharing with insurance companies. But of course. But they never said they wouldn't target ads to you based on your searches on health sites. They have acknowledged that aggregated search behaviors would be shared with marketers interested in your interests.

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Move the Digital Health impact needle -- invest in error avoidance

It has been a week of negative consumer health and tech news.  In the midst of learning about Mobile health growing pains, that was validated by the concept that patients should be less engaged, not more -- that is, bothered less to participate in 'patient engagement' portals, apps, devices.  And non-engagement of the doctor -- in addition to the patient --was clearly the underpinning of the assertion that doctors don't care about your Fitbit data.  For those creating that ground-breaking health-related app, too bad, we now know that most users don't regularly download apps, staying with what the devices (assuming smartphones AND tablets) had when they were sold.  And along with the slowdown in consumer spending, apparently western tablet shipments have slowed. 

 

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What health tech acquisitions matter for boomer health?

Healthcare technology acquisitions have a fever pitch -- do they matter to boomers? Never mind the investors, the media hype, the redefinition of all gadgets with chips, all portals, healthcare IT systems, all of it slapped into the definition and story of Digital Health.  And when all medical, consumer, and insurance-related tech is covered under one moniker, the story of Digital Health is broad enough to cover nearly everything.

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California dreaming -- who will buy digital health tech investors love?

Parks Associates segments the Digital Health market -- i.e. broadband households.  In the slowing days of August, you may have let this graphic slide by you without considering what it means.  So first, let's recap: Parks Associates has segmented the Digital Health consumer market, which they have defined as the population of US broadband households -- presumably they mean the 70 percent of all households age 18+ that were identified a year ago by Pew Research. As an aside, remember that Pew notes: "The demographic factors most correlated with home broadband adoption continue to be educational attainment, age, and household income." For example, only 43% of broadband adopters, according to Pew, are age 65+. For this report, Parks did its own survey of broadband households.

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Khosla speaks: Doctors will be replaced by cell phone apps

Since diagnoses are not reliable, we will give up and use the app. Vinod Khosla, someone who gets far more attention than his pronouncements deserve, is an investor in digital health companies.  His latest pronouncement, reported by MarketWatch under the guise of 'health coverage', asserts that doctors make diagnostic errors; technology makes fewer errors; ergo, the doctor will only be needed for making 'ethical calls'.

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Boomers need viable AND useful smartphone health apps

Smartphones are everywhere -- good thing we don't need them for anything vital. The oldest baby boomer is now 68, the youngest is 50 (AARP entry level).  By Social Security standards (age 62), movie ticket discounts (age 60), recommendations about investing that range from age 50+ to age 55+ , and lots of health advice all the way to 65+, that boomer is well on the way to being a senior. So what percentage of these folks have smartphones? First take a look at Pew-- where smartphone penetration in the 65+ age ranges seem to be around half.

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The Internet of Things -- Nothing to See Here, Move Along

  • New announcements -- here comes the Internet of Things.  We've been treated lately to a plethora of pronouncements about the arrival of the Internet of Things. And it is true that we all know that if stuff can transmit, stuff likes to transmit, even if there is nobody listening to the transmission. Compelling examples of this IoT? Forbes: "Thermostat adjusting the temperature of your home after you leave.

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