Aging in Place needs a Business Model
Aging in Place is a widely popular concept. Seniors want it. Economists think it has to happen if we are not all to go broke. And there is lots of technology being developed that may help. But, picking the right business model is a thorny issue.
"Aging in place" should be for all
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines Aging In Place as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level".
There is currently a community seeking tools for better aging that believes that there are technologies that could make a significant contribution to Aging In Place. Using the CDC definition, these technologies need to be made available to everyone.
Target markets have been identified, including possible product offerings, for these technologies, but it remains unclear how to deliver these technologies to as many people as possible.
"Aging in place" Business Model candidates
Many people looking at the aging in place concept gravitate toward a health care and/or alarm service business model. Another business model could be the entertainment industry, in particular, the cable, satellite, and streaming video companies.
In comparing business models, I believe we need a business model that has been able to deliver technology to "everyone" and has penetrated the mass market.
Healthcare as a model for Aging in place
Looking first at the health care business model, it is clear they have not demonstrated they can provide the technologies and services required to support the CDC goals for aging in place. The health care system has excluded tens of millions of Americans, with a very large subset being our target market for aging in place.
Home security as a model for Aging in place
Next, let's consider the residential alarm system model. Their market penetration has been even more limited, with most of their success resulting from new construction where the physical infrastructure can be built into the residence.
Cable and TV business models seem like a good fit
In contrast, the cable, satellite, and streaming video TV companies have demonstrated their ability to deliver technology to almost every home. Companies such as Xfinity, DirectTV, Netflix and others provide both standard and premium services that can be configured into an almost infinite number of options. There are generally no up-front charges for these services, and the average cable TV bill is now $128 per month.
We could provide a basic package of sensors and technology options and make premium services available, but rather than a premium sports channel, it would be technologies to deal with, for example, memory issues. For the monthly equivalent of the cost of a cable TV bill, the boomers could secure the very real benefits of services designed to help them remain securely in their homes. The added benefits to the children of the boomers and to society in general are clear. Like the entertainment offerings, these technologies must be very easy and inexpensive to retrofit.
This is important to our community because finding a template business model will drive the architecture of the product offering. The technologies are available; the challenge will be to deliver them to all who need them. We can and should learn from the entertainment industry. They may have the BKM (best known method) for bringing technology into nearly every home in the country. If our goal is to enable most, rather than just a few, we need to learn from those who have the BKM. Unlike the cable, satellite, and streaming video companies, where most of their costs go to paying for content, our content will be provided by the consumer, making it possible for us to concentrate on the technology and distribution.
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