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

Five Digital Health News Items That May Matter to Boomers

Outside of CES, imagine, there is other health tech news.  Hard to believe, but in the back-to-regularly-scheduled information flow, other announcements and offerings may have gotten lost in the pre- and post-CES tsunami. Always useful to look back at previous event-related hype, uh, news. Note this update about last year’s health gaggle of no-longer-exciting gadgety – maybe the defunct belong to the ‘crapgadgets’ as dutifully tracked by the announcement taggers at Engadget. Or at least they are gone gadgets.  But other tech developments have been noted recently that could be helpful to baby boomers who suffer from chronic diseases and other health-related concerns: 

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CES 2015 Part 2 – Seven Tech Offerings for Health

CES and Health Tech Innovation – Made for Each Other. It was a long week in an analyst’s life and a slow slog around the Sands Exhibition Hall in between sessions at Life Long Tech and Digital Health Summits. With its endless rows of fitness tech, wearables, robotics and healthy life style gadgets/gear seemed even more vibrant than the Las Vegas Convention Center – humming with car tech, large screen TVs, and the lemming-like disciples of the Internet of Things (sigh).  The dust will settle on the IoT insanity soon – and people will realize that the IoT isn’t a product category even though it sounds cool today (and also did in 2000). The array of health tech offerings (both in the Sands and elsewhere) speaks to investor and inventor belief in the opportunity, though the target buyer is not obvious. Is it the doctor, the pharmacy, the department store, nursing home/rehab, the hospital...or (perish the thought) the consumer? But meanwhile there were some interesting companies and combinations of health-related tech. Following CES 2015: Part 1 from yesterday, here are a few (not necessarily ready for prime time) that caught the eye/ear:

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Pets, boomers, and health – an Everyday (Health) occurrence

Boomers have a lot of pets – mostly dogs and cats.  Americans will have spent $58 billion on pets in 2014. Whoa, how did that get so big? To put that in perspective, the entire US cell phone market is $60 billion. And $5.5 billion spent on pet grooming – put into context, the entire and fragmented human hair care services industry is only $20 billion.  In Ohio, dog licenses are issued at a greater rate than birth certificates. There are an estimated owned 78 million dogs and 74 million cats in the US -- and in 2012, it was estimated that 62% of all households owned at least one pet.

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Top five Boomer Health Tech 2014 blog posts

Wearables for boomers -- connecting two cans with a string. If the market for consumer wearables is so ginormous, then why won't boomers adopt?  Picking up the two cans and string is the basis for hearing the missing conversation. That means finding and listening to the right party -- the patient who most needs the technology. Apparently, in order to realize the $6 billion market by 2018, useful data must be provided to the user. That would seem self-evident to innovators, but maybe not. The makers of health wearables are hustling to integrate with Electronic Medical Records (good luck!!!!), forge relationships with corporate wellness programs and health care organizations that can make the magical happen -- compliance.  Forbes quoted a PwC executive a few weeks ago saying the wonderful and obvious: "People like the idea of these devices. They just don’t want to bother with them." Useful data, however, is not static -- familiarity with your steps and sleep patterns -- let's face it -- that's boring. Configuring what's interesting, exceptional and changing -- that's difficult.  And horrors, what if wearables aren't even all that wearable?

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How about the Microsoft Band for Boomers and Beyond?

An exercise band – or something more?  Microsoft in-market consumer health tech invariably gets less positive hype than Apple’s yet-to-be. But as with Kinect, presumably a game controller, that when the tech is out in the market, capabilities may be revealed. To me, the potential emerges – starting with wellness tracking of aging boomers. It will take app developers to do something with the exposed API, and it would take a service provider or software integrator to want to do it.  Independent of device platform, “Microsoft wants to be to be the central repository for all the world's fitness data.” These are mHealth-crazed times – and many crazier trends are emerging for odd devices with less certain appeal.  And at the moment, the Band is sold out.

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Five Boomer Health Technologies from the 2014 mHealth Summit

Within the Health IT paradigm, self-care for boomers deserves highlighting. The mHealth Summit 2014 was mostly a health IT event, filled with consultants, health care professionals, startups focused on practice improvements, patient engagement, health care informatics and big data.  But amid all of the IT, there were solutions that could be leveraged by boomer self health management tools that fall into the xHealth umbrella -- Digital, mobile, and wearable health technology. They are interesting when grouped -- thus deserve to be called out separately.

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Memo to IDC: Debunking FutureScape's Digital Health Hype

IDC outlines FutureScape and the tech industries listen. IDC recently outlined the future of healthcare technology -- aimed at healthcare CIOs. As with all analyst predictions, they safely describe changes that will not occur until 2018, 2020, and beyond. Said Scott Lundstrom, Group Vice President and General Manager of IDC Health Insights. "Common themes emerging from the FutureScape include the focus on consumer experience and engagement, the use of mobile and internet enabled devices, and of course, the 3rd Platform technologies." You probably didn't know that this 3rd Platform was an organized initiative with a delivery date, but per IDC, it is being built (by someone?) on mobile computing, social networking, cloud services, and Big Data analytics technologies.  But will boomers (providers and consumers) buy into this buzzword-laden future?

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Aging 2.0 Pitch Event Boomer Health Tech startups - Boston

What's new and pitched about San Francisco-based Aging 2.0 describes itself as a 'global organization intent on accelerating innovation to improve the lives of older adults  -- to do, so it connects, educates and supports innovators through regular events, the CoverAGE newsletter and the Academy. Over the past 2 years, Aging2.0 has hosted 85 events in 22 cities across 9 countries, cultivating a robust ecosystem of innovators including entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, investors, long-term care providers and seniors themselves.  It organizes startup pitch events in various cities -- and recently held one in Boston, where five of the startups could fit easily into the market segment of improving baby boomer health with the support of technology. They include: 

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Connecting two cans with a string -- health wearables for boomers

If the market for consumer wearables is so ginormous, then why won't boomers adopt?  Picking up the two cans and string is the basis for hearing the missing conversation. That means finding and listening to the right party -- the patient who most needs the technology. Apparently, in order to realize the $6 billion market by 2018, useful data must be provided to the user. That would seem self-evident to innovators, but maybe not. The makers of health wearables are hustling to integrate with Electronic Medical Records (good luck!!!!), forge relationships with corporate wellness programs and health care organizations that can make the magical happen -- compliance.  Forbes quoted a PwC executive a few weeks ago saying the wonderful and obvious: "People like the idea of these devices. They just don’t want to bother with them." Useful data, however, is not static -- familiarity with your steps and sleep patterns -- let's face it -- that's boring. Configuring what's interesting, exceptional and changing -- that's difficult.  And horrors, what if wearables aren't even all that wearable?

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What ARE health tech innovators doing to help prevent falls?

The NY Times series paints a bleak picture about seniors and falls. Falling is a serious problem for the elderly -- and as the population of boomers age into their 70's, 80's and beyond, the scale of the problem is worsening -- as Katie Hafner's series this week illustrates. In 2012, 2.4 million older adults (age 65+) were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls -- whether down stairs, tripping on rugs, slippery bathtubs, even their own pets, never mind problems caused by drugs that produce dizziness.   At the age of 80, half of seniors fall annually.  Pathway lighting from bed to bath is incredibly cheap -- from under a stair step or motion-sensing night lights plugged into outlets.  Note cushioned floor mats as well.

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