Multinational tech giant Philips is at the center of a new research hub that aims to develop services and solutions focused senior care technology. And the company has enlisted a slew of collaborators, including in senior living, to further this initiative.
Announced during the White House Conference on Aging on Monday, the AgingWell Hub (AWH) will identify and invest in new technologies, products and services geared toward helping older adults “age well.” The plan is to accomplish this through the collaboration of seniors, caregivers, health care systems, payers, policymakers, corporate innovators, entrepreneurs and academia.
While the first phase will see Philips teaming with service providers from a variety of health care industries, the only senior living partner currently involved in the AWH is Smart Living 360, a Maryland-based operator and developer.
Despite having only one senior housing entity, the AWH expects to add more collaborators in the future as it gets underway, and that could include room for others in the senior living space, Greg Gordon, head of strategy for Philips Home Monitoring, tells SHN.
“We know there are a lot of other organizations out there not only from the senior living space but other spaces as well with great ideas,” he says.
The AWH will also seek solutions to improve tech adoption among seniors, while also making aging well a reality for more older adults by enabling them to better connect with their communities and health care providers.
At the top level, by bringing together such a broad swath of industry innovators and other stakeholders, Philips says the AWH is meant to solve several problems seniors and caregivers face today.
The broader problem is there are 30 million people in the U.S. over age 70 and about half of them cannot live independently unless they have a lot of support, says Gordon.
“There’s also a huge burden on their caregivers in terms of time and money,” Gordon tells SHN. “It’s a massive societal challenge and it will only get more challenging once we get twice as many people over age 70 in the next 20 years.”
As Philips attempts to tackle these challenges, it already is teaming with organizations specializing in a variety of senior care fields, including senior living, home care and health systems.
“The collaborators are critical because this problem is not one that any one organization can solve, and it’s not one that any single part of a senior ecosystem can solve,” Gordon says. “When bringing together people from different backgrounds, it helps you look at the problem in a new way.”
The AWH expands on the Philips Center for Health and Well-being Aging Well Think Tank, as well as its work and research with the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, which has examined the attitudes and behaviors of seniors and their caregivers regarding the adoption of technology.
Through this work, Philips and its research partners have found that a new approach is needed, particularly one that is consumer-centric and involves government, industry, health care systems and academic institutions as partners.
Organizations already involved with the AWH include MedStar Health, a non-profit community-based health system serving the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area; the American Architectural Foundation; eHealth Initiative; Humana (NYSE: HUM); Respect a Caregiver’s Time (ReAct); StreetScape USA; New York’s Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services; and The Gary and Mary West Health Institute.
Additionally, AWH thought leaders and experts will create a blueprint for a research hub, expected to be located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This lab environment will serve as the physical hub of the AWH initiative, serving as a testing grounds for organizations to gather and share their ideas and research with seniors, caregivers, doctors and other involved personnel.
These large learning labs will help accelerate innovation by allowing for open co-creation of new services and solutions among seniors, caregivers and other collaborators. The goal, according to Philips, is to understand the “true cost” and performance of care and how it can be improved with innovation.
Philips is currently in discussion with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab to advise on the lab design and research program, thus furthering its relationship with the prestigious university.
In May, Philips and MIT signed a five-year research alliance aimed at developing innovative tech solutions to address pressing challenges in health care. With a total budget of $25 million for the five-year term, the agreement is the largest research alliance undertaken by Philips in the region.
In terms of the capital investment Philips will be making within the AWH, the company is reluctant to talk about such figures as it is currently in a “quiet period” before its next earnings release.
Philips says it plans to begin moving into the new lab space less than a mile from MIT’s campus in Cambridge come September or October. By then, it hopes to have several projects ready for the AWH, Gordon says.
The AWH arrives at a senior care market that is already buzzing for new tech solutions aimed at helping older adults, their families, caregivers and other health care stakeholders.
As for how the Hub will fit into the fold of aging tech accelerators and other investors, such as Aging2.0 and the Ziegler Link-Age Longevity Fund, for example, Philips welcomes the competition as it shows there is considerable interest in addressing the challenges of aging with technology.
“The more people engaged in this problem and the more thought being shared openly and publicly, the better,” says Gordon.
Written by Jason Oliva