Five questions shaping the future of elder care
Technology is constantly evolving, and innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are rapidly transforming how we protect ourselves and our families. For example, connected homes monitor for fires or carbon monoxide leaks, while AI-powered home assistants such as the Amazon Echo can provide medications reminders. Similarly, technological advances are also revolutionizing how we care for the elderly.
Companies such as Lively are already piloting integrated systems that combine a Fitbit-like wearable with sensors that can ensure medication is taken appropriately and alert a caregiver if someone has opened a door, while accelerometers can even tell someone when you’ve fallen. These advancements provide health insurers with a unique opportunity to transform themselves from an unpleasant necessity we call upon when we’re sick to a trusted partner whom we rely on every day to care for and protect us.
It is a transformation that hinges not on the ability to invent new technology but on the ability to harness it to create meaningful interactions through a network of care that builds lifelong trust. Technology not as the object of trust (I trust that my Echo will remind me of a meeting), but technology as the enabler of trust (I trust someone is looking out for me, that someone designed this technology to meet my needs, and that if I need to speak with someone to help me plan or to help me understand if and when my needs might change, they will be there).
How do we enable this meaning and facilitate relationship-building interactions? We can take a cue from the advancements being made in care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s by companies who think holistically about the experience. They “look at day-to-day life and create conditions for residence so that they are challenged by recognizable incentives to remain active—residents are grouped with shared interests in a lifestyle group. The design and decoration of the homes and surroundings is tailored to that lifestyle.” This design takes not just the individual into consideration, but also their environment, other residents and care workers.
Similarly health insurers looking to leverage innovation to transform their role to lifelong protectors should take this same holistic view. Consider not just the policyholder, but their environment, their family, their community, the employees and partners who will interact with them, and then consider what will be required of the enabling technologies to deliver on the promise of life protection in a way that is meaningful.