Baby boomers & health technology adoption.

Hearing loops change public experience for hearing impaired – but are they deployed?

Getting into the hearing loop arena.  Again a chance to note -- the dramatic enhancement of sound for hearing aid wearers in a looped setting -- that is, a room enhanced with a telecoil loop transmitter -- in a public environment.  The cost, according to the writer, ranges from a few thousand dollars to $130,000 for the entire airport.The result? Transmission of announcements directly to the hearing aid’s switched-on telecoil – and both GrandRapids and Healthrow airports have these installed. Not all hearing aids have a telecoil feature – apparently audiologists aren’t required to mention them when configuring a new user’s hearing aid. For a dramatic example of the sound difference with a hearing loop enabled versus off, check out this video.

 

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Sloppiness and privacy indifference will cramp Health tech market

Not so well, actually – our most precious data is not protected. Don’t you find it interesting that tech companies, from Facebook (currently pursued for privacy violations by European courts) to Fitbits, from health plans to health apps, have added recent new, uh, capabilities to address privacy? Fitbit’s move was to hire a lobbyist, which of course is a good first step after an accusation from a Senator.  In the meantime, MIT folk did a detailed analysis of what Fitbit was actually doing with its data – grabbing it, but not sharing all of it with the user, it turns out. Maybe a lobbyist is a good idea.  And Facebook’s facial recognition technology, which is on by default naturally, is facing lawsuits in several states where it is illegal to store without your permission and apparently without bothering to tell you. But they already have 250 million uploaded ‘faceprints’ – so I am sure a lobbyist is lurking somewhere to turn this into a feature.

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Five recent tech offerings for Boomer Health and Wellbeing

What is Boomer Health Tech anyway?  Aside from the obvious -- tech related to health that is useful to boomers of course. As part of a series of research interviews about the use of wearable and mobile health technologies for baby boomers, perhaps ‘Health’ is the wrong word.  Fitness, well-being, chronic disease management, provider or payer Health IT? Is this representd by a 2x2 graph, as one interviewee said? One quadrant fo fitness, aka sports and recreation (activity tracking, heart rate and UV, health meal/lifestyle, family collaboration). Another for self-management tools for significant lifestyle issues (smoking cessation, diet and weight loss, diabetes self-test). Maybe boomer health tech fits best with diagnosed condition management (sound amplification tools like PSAPs, in-home telehealth, social health sites, or hospital or provider portals). Or maybe for  conditions that health providers help manage – like hearing aids, tricorders, population health, provider EHR, and disease or condition predictive analytics?  While mulling this over for a report to be completed during September, heere five newer offerings in the space:

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Fitness and activity trackers – make them usable for all ages

Fitness and activity trackers – usage has been tracked. The wearables market has been surveyed and segmented in broad age strokes.  A big survey of 5000 users of wearables by NPD Connected Intelligence noted that 36 percent of fitness tracker owners in the US are 35-54 years old, 41 percent had an average income of more than $100,000, and 54 percent were women. Roughly 25% of the 55+ population owned a fitness tracker – as for smartwatches, that age group doesn’t care much (5%) yet about them. So why isn't adoption of fitness tracking devices higher among the older age segments?

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More medication management and reminder apps for boomers

Seven out of ten Americans take at least one prescription drug. Two weeks ago, I posted about 6 tools for medication management and reminders – this is becoming one of the most useful app categories for smartphones and their baby boomer owners. With new data about their health just published, we know that 50% take a prescription heart medication and one in five have diabetes. As boomers march their way through the thicket of consumer-directed health care, tools to help manage their medications are becoming increasingly useful. Here are five more (ALSO see NOTE below!):

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Google crushes content to boost mobile friendliness

Google forced the creation of so-called mobile sites?  Rant on.  Last week I published a list of Medication Management technologies that could be useful to baby boomers. Great. This week I looked at those websites a bit more closely, not squinting at my phone, but instead from my desktop PC. I selected a few of them – stared at the full motion video on the desktop sites, and ran their URLs through the Google Mobile Friendly-ness test. I also put in MobiHealthNews and Weather.gov (Google says not mobile friendly). The URL for Anthem.com  was deemed mobile friendly, but when searching via Google for Anthem.com, I was directed to an Overview page (not friendly). Then I look at the tortured feedback on Google’s own recommended forum about this topic:  So many sites have been failing this test -- with their owners fixing and pleading with Google to take another look.

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Medication management and reminder tools for boomers

By 2012, boomers had revealed plenty of chronic disease. According to the CDC, “19 percent of adults, ages 55 to 64 had diabetes, 40 percent were obese and 51 percent had high blood pressure Due in large part to the prevalence of these chronic conditions, use of prescription drugs is high. In 2009-12, approximately 45 percent of adults in this age group took a prescription heart drug, about 32 percent took a cholesterol-lowering drug, 16 percent used prescription drugs for chronic heartburn, 15 percent used prescription painkillers, nearly 13 percent used some type of diabetes drug, and more than 14 percent took an antidepressant.” What tools can help them remember to take/dispense the dose? Here are five examples, descriptions from websites/reviews:

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Six digital health tools to help prevent or manage diabetes

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 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:

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Baby boomers and new health technologies -- what strategy matters?

What needs to change to help baby boomers benefit from new health technologies? Baby boomers (b. 1946-1964) are not benefiting from the wearable and mobile health (abbreviated here as "xHealth") technologies.  Technology innovation in health-related technologies may not be reaching the largest population segment that most needs them. Consider the health status of boomers today – and note their current non-adoption of wearables.  Note that only one-third of baby boomers download smartphone apps – and that the top ones are not related to their health. Note the privacy issues with inadvertent sharing of health status from smartphone apps and social networking sites – and the growing issue of medical identity theft.  If we are to obtain the full benefits of health-related consumer-facing technologies, many of the issues and resulting solutions adopted in other industries will need to be considered in the xHealth technology industry.  

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Boomers will seek health care services from home

Trust in the healthcare system declines as consumer confidence in themselves rises. What’s behind consumers wanting to take charge of their own health?  In a recent NCPI-Pfizer study, 88 percent of respondents said they are confident in their abilities to take responsibility for their health, with 92% saying they like being in control. Is this a positive development or a positive face on growing fear of the in-person healthcare delivery system? Or is it related to widespread loss of trust in doctors? Is that distrust based on publicity about the outrageously high level of medical errors? Or do they worry about health insurer carelessness? Perhaps consumers have had deeply disappointing hospital care experiences.

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