Seniors technology adoption
A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that seniors technology aren’t often successful. With the exception of what is now considered the prosaic personal emergency response system (“Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) seniors’ targeted technology (“silver tech”) haven’t resulted in widespread adotpon. The baby boom generation, often cited as the “Grey’s tsunami” which technology entrepreneurs offer as the raison d’être for these investments are not the primary target for these technological innovations. The oldest of the baby boomers is now 70 years of age. At 70, most people are still living in their homes and actively engaged in their communities, their families and even work. Adoption of technology will be built around lifestyle desires and goals – think fit bit. Among the older cohorts, the technology needs to be less intrusive, address specific needs and be far easier to use.
One of the major reasons for the lack of greater adoption of technology on the seniors’ markets is that most innovations are attempting too much. Going for the brass ring is more exciting than solving simple problem. But there are problems practically crying out for simple technical solutions.
There are approximately 1.6 million Americans living in age related congregate care (nursing homes, assisted living residences, etc.) and almost all of them are 85 years of age or older. It is the owners and operators at these congregate care centers that face enormous challenges of resident safety, staff efficiency and regulatory oversight. These centers are truly “the land that technology left behind”. Opportunities abound, however, technology developers must understand the goals of the customers (not the patients) and the environment.
While technology adaptation within hospitals and even doctors’ offices has moved ahead, there’s been a surprising lack of adoption among seniors’ residences. My colleague and I have developed a simple system for improving the efficiency in these congregate care centers, which requires no change in behavior among staff. With a provisional patent in place though the USTPO, we are currently seeking full patent protection and have attracted significant interest among congregate care managers.
Simple solutions that address real problems will enjoy adoption!