Internet usage and online shopping participation rates are, naturally, lower among older age groups: seniors have not had the advantage of growing up with this technology, as millennials have. But in developed Internet economies, online penetration rates for seniors are now close to where average penetration rates stood a few years ago.
In the UK, for instance, some 70% of 65–74-year-olds use the Internet at least once a week. In the US, meanwhile, some 58% of consumers aged 65+ were Internet users as of May 2015, up from 57% in January 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. As a share of total online shoppers in the US, however, those 65 and older remain underrepresented: they account for just 10% of total online shoppers, but make up nearly 19% of the adult population, according to an April 2015 survey by Business Insider.
Device Usage Among Seniors
While overall technology adoption levels have been low among seniors compared to the rest of the population, it is evident that more seniors are becoming tech-savvy over time. Smartphone adoption is growing rapidly among those 55 and older in developed countries.
Healthcare Spending by Seniors
Our estimates suggest that seniors accounted for around 16.1%, or $1.3 trillion, of healthcare spending globally in 2015. This is an approximation extrapolated from data for the US, the UK and Japan and based on total healthcare spending figures from the World Bank.
The World Bank says $7.36 trillion was spent on global healthcare in 2013, and we estimate this total to have risen to $16.30 trillion in 2015. Given that healthcare spending is a sizeable portion of public and private spending, especially in developed countries, many innovators have taken note of the commercial potential of this sector. Below, we explore some of the exciting collaborative developments in the industry.
The Healthcare Tech Industry
Health technology, as the World Health Organization describes it, is “the application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives.” Healthcare tech has been immensely helpful in improving, and lengthening, people’s lives. Within the industry, technology has been developed to cater to the specific medical and health needs of the older population.
Healthcare Technology and Senior Healthcare Technology Drivers
Healthcare tech has been enabled by two trends that mark our modern lives: instant accessibility and Big Data. Both can help improve patients’ quality of life and caregivers’ ability to perform their jobs.
The Push Factors
Several factors are pushing healthcare technology, including:
- An increase in the aging population and the resulting rise in demand for healthcare.
- Advances in technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The rising cost of seniors’ healthcare.
The Pull Factors
Considering the many applications of tech in caring for seniors, the market has a few distinct drivers that are pulling more consumers toward it:
- Instant access to first aid/immediate care.
- Move from paper to electronic medical records or electronic health records.
- The move toward preventive healthcare in the global healthcare business model.
- Data collection.
Technology has increasingly helped the healthcare industry progress in terms of provision of care, diagnosis, noninvasive surgery and more.
Profiles: Senior Healthcare Tech Products
At the CES 2016 trade show, an event called the Silvers Summit was dedicated to the latest developments in technology for seniors. Some of the products demonstrated included:
- Novartis’s portfolio of smart inhalers for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- MocaHeart by MocaCare
- GreatCall’s phones, wearables and services
- GrandCare Systems
- Fitness wearables
- UnaliWear’s Kanega
- BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System
Tech Paving the Road Ahead For Senior Healthcare
The senior healthcare industry is rife with activity: more “smart” devices are being developed, global pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with tech companies, and startups are creating new and relevant health tech products for seniors.
We also think there will be a crossover at some point between the connected home and senior care, and that many smart home devices will enable better remote monitoring of seniors and their health.
We expect many more firms, both established and new, to innovate and so tackle the challenges and costs associated with an aging population. In doing so, many will play a part in managing a demographic change that could otherwise turn into a major problem for economies worldwide
For more details on The Silvers Series read our full report here.