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Silvers Summit/ Digital Health 2012

by Louis on January 18, 2012

My how time flies!  I started to report on last week’s Silvers Summit at CES  (Consumer Electronics Show) by referring to my write up last year. Turns out the last one I wrote was two years ago! This was the first time I attended the Silvers Summit or CES. So, Can I write the same things or does time and real experience change my point of view?

I am sorry to report things have not changed as much as we hope. Folks, the future IS bright but it is a LOOOONG way off!

The Silvers Summit folks are dedicated but the program has two problems. 1. There is still confusion about whether we are talking about an inspirational, vital market of boomers or a frail, caregiving assist market of older home dwellers. Many of the products seeing some success are deployed in housing and care facilities. These are good or even great use of the products, BUT they are not about using technology to enhance independence or the progressive alternative of Aging in Place. This is about more efficient use of resources in assisted living, independent living, nursing homes or continuing care residential communities (CCRC). Nothing wrong with that. It is just not new or exciting.

2. Though these excited, dedicated, passionate entrepreneurs are gung-ho, none are clear how to reach people in their homes. I hear what are now tired platitudes about reaching older folks through their adult children but I have not seen it work so well. (I never had any luck convincing my dad to do anything.) Reaching older consumers in their homes is complex and difficult.

In contrast, the Digital Health Summit is more progressive and more exciting. The biggest category is physical activity monitoring. The iBike garnered the most buzz. You put your i-phone into a handlebar carrier that protects it while connecting it to oodles more circuits within the carrier and the sensors on your wheels. It provides lots of data and great, readable displays of your activity.

iBike is representative of the type of data collection – arm bands, chest bands, patches, ear buds, and more and availability- small screens, uplinking, etc. Some others at the show included BodyMedia FIT, Polar, Wahoo, Fit Bit.

The Digital Health Summit focuses on the push to use the data is probably most important.  Engagement. Can insurance plans and employers encourage those with health conditions that may grow to be expensive to change their behavior? Simply stated, can these devices be used to help overweight people shed some pounds and keep it off?  That is the big $ question.

The answer is not clear but there is starting to be evidence that when used the devices are helpful. How do you get people to use them? A combination of carrot and stick, but still complex. a. Encourage people to buy the device. b. Monitor so you can encourage and reward use. c. Over time. Lots of steps and a real need for continuity. How many smokers have quit? More than once or twice?

United Healthcare Group had a large booth with multiple impressive and innovative stations showing their efforts to educate and involve clients in their own care. This is the future of technology and engagement for improved health outcomes and money savings.

I enjoyed my time at CES/Silvers Summit. Not the least because of the great hike I took  to Red Rocks Canyon with Jason Popko of Bosch and Good Design/Age Well, Joel Shapira of Beyond Age and Innovation Invigoration, Susan Estrada of Happy at Home (who loves Fit Bit), P. K. Fields about to launch and Marcie Rogo, soon to launch Silver


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