Disney Today, Senior Living Tomorrow: Adapting Mainstream Tech

Mainstream disruptive products such as Uber and Airbnb may have yet to make a formal foray into senior living on a wide-scale basis, but providers can take cues from the technology being developed for the overall population as a way to improve the quality of care. 

Drawing from several mainstream trends in technology, including elevated on-demand services; collaborative consumption; the Internet of Everything; and big data, Aging2.0 co-founder Katy Fike spoke last week before attendees of the NIC regional conference in San Diego about the rising products and services that are positioned to revolutionize senior care. 

“Data is going to continue to be a differentiator,” Fike said. “It’s important to always be looking at what’s going on in adjacent industries and to try to think about what will that look like when it comes into our space.” 

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Aging2.0, a startup generator that counts Formation Capital and The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living among its partners, focuses on fostering technology innovations that cater to the aging population. 

And many of those startups are going to take signals from the mainstream, Fike explained. 

New models such as those piloted by hospitality company Starwood and airlines such as Virgin can apply.

On Virgin flights, services and food are provided on demand via the airline’s tablet ordering system, meaning that staff tend to be consistently busy with passenger requests rather than facing a huge surge in service demand during some parts of the flight and lulls during others. In some of Starwood’s Aloft hotels, guests interact with a “robobutler,” part of the smart object trend, when requesting service items such as extra towels delivered to their rooms.

“They’re thinking about the best use of humans and the best use of technology…” Fike said. “We will see robotics coming into the aging experience.”

At Disney, visitors to theme parks can use a “magic band” to store information, including personal preferences, to help shape the user experience. Information about a child, such as her favorite Disney Princess, could be stored so that princesses around the park could greet the child by name.  

And logistics trendsetter Uber—a disruptive ride-sharing technology that is now valued at around $40 billion—recently piloted an UberPOOL service that creates real time carpools for Uber riders; another idea that may apply to senior care. Fike envisions a concept in which care is provided by a similar service in small increments during the day. A home care provider could essentially “pool” service visits that are concentrated in a geographic region, for example. 

“It’s getting much more efficient,” Fike said of the UberPOOL example. “They’re using data to get smarter and that has a win-win of increasing revenue while decreasing the cost to the [user].”

Mainstream technology solutions now span solutions from grocery delivery to new health care design, wearable devices—and beyond. 

“With invisible wearables we have the ability to capture data on an ongoing and continuous basis and look for trends early,” Fike said. “That is what opens up new world of proactive health care systems.” 

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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