How technology transformation will help us outthink aging
Technology transformation is flourishing at a propitious time in our aging society. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by 2050, nearly one in five people will be age 60 and above, and the older demographic will outnumber the younger demographic for the first time ever.
Baby boomers and Gen-Xers are more tech-savvy than their predecessors, with a different mindset and goals for how they intend to conduct their lives and outthink aging. For one, they’re more connected. According to Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership is rising at an extraordinary rate globally, climbing from a median of 21 percent to 37 percent in two years. In the US, 27 percent of people age 65 and over have smartphones, up eight percent from 2014, and the 50 percent barrier of smartphone ownership is broken by those just under 65. Second, they’re working longer by choice and participating in alternative work arrangements, also known as the “gig economy,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Those 50 and older are more active than ever, generating $7.6 trillion in economic activity in 2015, according to a study published by the AARP and Oxford Economics. It’s the same around the world: the aging population is tech-savvy, living longer and contributing to the economy in a big way. Technology has played no small role in this revolution. The intersection of quantum advancements in mobility, analytics, smart sensors and devices, cognitive and machine learning, along with the accessibility of these technologies on the cloud, have been at the heart of the paradigm shift of what it means to age well.
Aging is not just a challenge and opportunity for the healthcare segment — it’s an opportunity for all industries and service providers to rethink what kind of products and services are and will be relevant to the largest-growing segment of the global population.
I’m excited to bring a few of the organizations who are shaping the dialogue and direction of the paradigm shift together for a discussion at HIMSS17.
Those attending HIMSS17 can join me for a special luncheon with AARP, Tekes – The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and SimpleC. Our topic of discussion will be: “OutTHINK aging: Create a New Vision for Care and Engagement.”
The following are three important connected technology innovations that will help aging seniors stay connected, engaged and productive and will reshape business strategies for years to come:
1. The IoT of me and beyond
Sensors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in what they measure and how they measure it. They’re integrated into what we wear — clothing, accessories and even eye contacts now capture biometric data and assist in managing personal health. Sensors are also integrated into home monitoring, appliances and cars to understand environment, temperature and patterns of movement.
These same sensors can raise alerts and prompt action or intervention, triggered by the underlying data and analytics aligned to individual needs. According to OutTHINK Aging, a report by IBM in collaboration with the Consumer Technology Association, one in three people believe smart homes and the IoT will help manage the aging process the most.
2. Intelligent assistants
Maintaining independence, staying connected to friends and family and engaging in daily activities are all things everyone strives for, including seniors. Analytics, cognitive capabilities and machine learning are the latest tools entrepreneurial-minded individuals are combining to develop solutions with augmented intelligence. These solutions, such as SimpleC Companion apps, work from foundations of knowledge — such as medical, behavioral and pharmacological science, idiopathic data and personal history as well as daily living environment — to create personalized care plans and non-pharmacological interventions. In some cases, these interventions are yielding a 95 percent drop in sedative drug use.
3. Connected ecosystems
The next logical connection point is to the community for services such as transportation, groceries, food delivery, home health, personal care and many other business models not even thought of yet. Just as Uber has transformed transportation, so too will entrepreneurs create market-based solutions that will serve this growing market. The foundation of these services will be conversational interfaces powered by the IoT, analytics and cognitive. Organizations such as the AARP’s Innovation@50+ aims to spark entrepreneurial activity across public and private sectors.
IBM has pioneered key action research in aging and has invested in researching how people over 65 use technology. This has resulted in the development of a continuum of digital through to analog seniors. IBM has created an Aging Well design lab in Texas and convened more than 25 design thinking sessions globally by bringing together clients and partners from multiple industries, government and healthcare to outthink aging.
Having participated in several of these dynamic workshops, I am really inspired and encouraged by the new ecosystems and partnerships that have emerged. The opportunity to turn a problem on aging for one agency into an opportunity for another ecosystem partner is powerful and has net social benefit.
How will you contribute to the longevity economy? Leave your comments or join us for a special luncheon at HIMSS17, “OutTHINK Aging: Create a New Vision for Care and Engagement” to discuss in person.
Visit IBM Watson Health Booth No. 1809 and No. 1003 at HIMSS17 from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23 to learn more about mobile engagement solutions for the healthcare industry and meet IBM experts on it.
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