Technology is at the forefront of senior living solutions, from next generation remote health monitoring apps to wearables that can detect and predict falls among seniors.The need for these innovative solutions are expected to boom over the next few years, with the total market opportunity estimated to be $279 billion, according to a recent study from AARP and Parks Associates.
The Caregiving Innovation Frontiers (CIF) study found that an estimated 117 million Americans will need assistance of some kind by 2020, but the number of unpaid caregivers is only expected to reach 45 million in the same year. These unpaid caregivers are avid for solutions to assist them, and tech entrepreneurs already are stepping up to the plate.
While the AARP report focused mainly on the needs of unpaid caregivers, senior living providers well know that they too stand to benefit from innovations that can improve care and increase business efficiency.
This huge demand represents a $279 billion revenue opportunity over the next four years across six different business areas identified in the study, with 80% of spending being out-of-pocket costs. Technology solutions and remote health monitoring systems that enable family caregivers could provide key relief, according to the report.
“The physical, mental and financial burden on family caregivers are real and their sacrifice for loved ones were aggravated by lack of well-designed decision support tools and shortage of effective task management solutions in the past,” Harry Wang, director of mobility and digital health at Parks Associates, said in a statement. “Fortunately, the tech industry has been mobilized and this report shines the light into caregiver needs areas where critical innovations and breakthrough business models are immediately needed.”
The CIF report outlined six areas for business opportunities, with huge potential for revenue grabs. Technology represents an opportunity across all the service areas, according to AARP. The majority of family caregivers—67% of them—want to use technology to monitor their loved one’s health and safety, but only about 10% are doing so.
“This market is ripe for disruption,” Jody Holtzman, senior vice president of enterprise strategy and innovation with AARP, said in a press release. “It is in full alignment with AARP’s social mission to enhance the quality of life for people 50-plus, as it pertains to caregivers as well as those receiving care. Caregiving tech is a huge growth opportunity that can help us bridge this ‘needs gap’ and deliver better, more relevant products to improve people’s lives.”
The biggest category was within day-to-day living activities, such as meals, home and personal care, home repair, delivery and transportation. The report estimated the opportunities in this area could exceed $200 billion.
Other areas include health and safety awareness; care coordination; transition support; social well-being; and caregiver quality of life. The report also noted that caregivers can have a great influence on the purchase of all the offerings across the service areas identified and are often responsible for the direct purchase of some products, such as medication management apps. By tapping into the needs of caregivers, businesses entering the space face a growing demand with exciting opportunities, the report concluded.
Future is Now
The caregiving market opportunity will reach $72.2 billion in 2022, AARP projected, but already demand is significant—the 2016 market represents a $42.9 billion opportunity, according to the report. And as demonstrated by the array of innovations displayed at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, tech companies already are bringing a variety of solutions to the market.
Examples of technology relevant to the senior living industry that were featured at 2016 CES include:
VitalSnap: A new mobile technology launched by Validic, a digital health platform connecting health care organizations to data generated by consumer and clinical health technologies, VitalSnap enables users to record health data from a personal device via their smartphone camera. This data can then be delivered to health care organizations.
Digitsole: The first-of-its-kind connected and interactive insole, Digitsole is designed to keep the wearer’s feet warm, with the ability to change temperature via smartphones. The gadget tracks activity, as well.
Smart SPOON and FORK, Smart CUP: Developed by GYENNO, the so-called Smart SPOON and FORK counteract hand tremors from Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions and collect data about the patient’s tremors. Meanwhile, the GYENNO Smart CUP incorporates an LCD screen that allows the drinker to customize and monitor drinking plans and set reminders to stay hydrated.
Lively Wearable: This activity wristband detects falls and includes an emergency response button to call for help, immediately notifying family members or caregivers.