Baby boomers & health technology adoption.

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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MyFitnessDog -- the future of boomers, pets, and technology

New York State catches up to the dining habits of boomers and their pets.  Making its way through the state legislature in New York is a bill that will let diners bring their dogs into the restaurant, imitating practices in California, Europe and elsewhere and overturning prior rules, if not actual practice.  Thirty-seven percent of baby boomers own a pet, dare we say that might be a dog? Or two to three dogs?  It seems pretty simple now to acquire an emotional support letter that bypasses the rules prohibiting pets on planes that are not trained service dogs. And a number of major retailers (store manager willing) now permit dogs inside the store.  Apartment buildings and hotels now have dog-friendly specials (the Westin Heavenly Dog Bed) and even dog-friendly cocktail hours.

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Five Boomer Health Technologies from AARP’s Live Pitch

Mobile mattered at AARP’s LivePitch.  Picked from the venture capital/investment community, facilitated by Venture Valkyrie Lisa Suennen, four judges listened this past week to 15 health-related startup high pressure pitches.They diminished in length from four fairly leisurely minutes to five attempts to say it all in a single fly-by one minute -- winners were selected by the judges based on the company’s and market potential. In an interesting twist on these types of events, audience members also voted - using benefit-to-user criteria. Some targeted and/or benefited an aging in place segment while others appear mobile or Healthcare in their offerings. These five are listed in alphabetical order and the material is drawn from their websites:

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EHR and medical errors -- whose fault is it anyway?

EHR – garbage in-disaster-out (GIDO) – has data disaster reached healthcare?  Will the system be blamed for failure -- or will experts tackle culture, behaviors or procedures that underpin systems?  Perhaps you saw a recent book by Robert Wachter, the Digital Doctor. Its subtitle – “hope, hype and harm at the dawn of medicine’s computer age” tells you where he nervously stands. Consider the true story that runs throughout the book. An antibiotic dose is entered into Epic with a selected but incorrect unit of measure. That mistake began online with the doctor, but then was counted out by the pharmacy robot, viewed by the pharmacist and handed to the patient by the nurse. The result was a near-fatal dose of 39 pills instead of just one.  Why had the technology part so caught Dr. Wachter’s eye? He believes that naive users trust the system more than their own eyes or the need to check with each other and ask a question.  

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