Senior care tech has been booming, but the success of cutting-edge startups doesn’t necessarily mean their devices are being widely used.
Relatively few seniors and caregivers are actively engaging with technology, perhaps indicating the need for more innovative tech solutions and better marketing strategies, according to survey findings from third-party referral agent Caring.com.
“I haven’t seen the iPhone of aging tech yet—the thing that totally revolutionizes the way we age,” Katie Roper, Caring.com’s vice president of sales, tells Senior Housing News. “The aging tech industry needs a Steve Jobs visionary.”
Between July 8 and Aug. 10, Caring.com conducted a survey of 2,098 people aimed at examining the caregiver journey and learning what tools and services are used. About 20% of respondents had a loved one living in a senior housing community, 50% lived with their loved one and the rest had loved ones living independently or caring for themselves.
Only 14% of respondents reported using personal emergency response systems—the most of any high-tech caregiver tool included in the survey. Meanwhile, a mere 9% of participants indicated their use of medication management technology; 4% said they used Internet-based care coordination sites; and just 1% noted the utilization of telehealth remote monitoring technologies, according to the survey results.
“I don’t think any [technology] has really identified the things that people need,” Roper says. “It’s less about new tech features and more about safety, security and communication. Those are the things that people really want.”
That’s not to say that there aren’t products already on the market that prove helpful for people, Roper tells SHN. Rather, she says limited tech use stems from a lack of awareness that the devices exist, therefore staving off demand.
“People involved in this situation are not asking for more tech solutions to fix their problems,” Roper says. “People don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t know that they need this or that technology.”
As such, Roper says it’s crucial that senior care tech providers promote their devices. This might entail launching a consumer marketing campaign or partnering with a trusted resource, whether that be a home care agency or senior housing community, as a means of introducing the service provided by the technology.
“As an entrepreneur, you need to plan for one or the other,” she says. “Otherwise, nobody’s going to be buying your product.”
Beyond increasing awareness about existing tech, though, Roper says product development is key, as there’s still space to “come up with the next great thing that’s going to revolutionize aging the way Airbnb has revolutionized the hotel business.”
“I just don’t think we’ve seen the killer app yet to either keep [seniors] in their own homes or drive them into a senior living community,” she says.
Written by Kourtney Liepelt