How We Fund Our Work.
Tech-enhanced Life's primary mission is to help older adults and their families. Over time, we have realized that we also have a secondary mission — which is aligned with the primary one — of helping companies bring to market better products and services for older adults.
The key features of our work are independence, objectivity, and depth.
We are still exploring the optimal business model to support these missions, and on this page you can read:
- the guidelines we have set ourselves to ensure our work stays objective and without conflict of interest;
- how we have funded the organization up until now; and
- things we think you would want to know if you got as far as this page on "how we fund our work".
- We try and be completely transparent about how our work is funded. See below.
Research Guidelines: Independent, Objective, Deep
When we undertake research into a specific topic (such as our evaluation of medical alert devices) we want to produce work that provides actionable insights to older adults and their families. We want it to be clearly independent from any manufacturer or sales channel for the products themselves, and we want the work to be done with some depth, objectivity, and analytical rigor.
To accomplish that we have laid out these guidelines for our major research initiatives on behalf of older adults and their families:
- The research we do on behalf of older adults and their families is not sponsored by the vendors of products we analyze or evaluate.
- For each research project, we assemble a team with the right credentials to create work that goes well beyond what you can find elsewhere. Where appropriate, we like to include an "expert advisory panel of clinicians, experts in aging services, and scientists" to help us focus on the right questions, and keep the analysis rigorous and objective.
- Our community of Longevity Explorers, many of whom are themselves older adults who either use the products we study or are considering using them, often participate in an active hands-on manner in our research. So our work is not only the result of some in-depth analysis of the products by "experts", but also includes impressions and user feedback from actual users of the systems — people like you.
All our older-adult-focused research done prior to Sept. 2019 (when this was written) followed these guidelines. While we expect generally to follow them going forward as well, we can imagine situations in which we would allow companies to loan or donate products for evaluation (until now we bought all the products we reviewed). Should we diverge from these guidelines, we will clearly disclose that when we publish the work.
Funding our Work Until Now
Until now Tech-enhanced Life has been funded primarily by our small group of founders and advisors. In addition, when we provide advisory services to companies, we use any profits from those projects to help fund our research, and the operation of this website, and the ongoing costs of enabling the Longevity Explorer community.
Our company is a Public Benefit Corporation, which means we are able to combine a mission with a for-profit structure. You can learn more about that and why we like this approach here.
While our primary focus until now has been our mission of improving the quality of life of older adults, our long term plan is for the company to be financially self supporting. We are experimenting with several different ways to make this happen, with a key requirement being that it does not conflict with our goal of doing independent, objective research.
While everyone likes "free" things — and most of our work on behalf of older adults is free — we believe our research has value, and so in some cases we will charge for access to it. For example, we charge a modest fee to read our eBook on home sensor systems. We are still exploring how to charge for our work on medical alert systems. We may charge a small fee in the future to access the work.
We also use affiliate links in some places on the site. For example, when we have links to specific products on Amazon or other sites at which you can buy the products, we sometimes use affiliate links. This means that if you click on those links and go to (say) Company xxx, and then end up buying a product, Company xxx will give us a small share of the revenue they make from the sale. This in no way affects the price you pay. Tech-enhanced Life belongs to several affiliate programs, including the Amazon Affiliate program.
We accept donations to help fund our research, and if you would like to help support our work, you can donate here.
A big reason why we like making much of our research available for free is so it is available to all, regardless of their means. However quality research is costly. If you like our work and are benefiting from it, and have some spare funds, your donations will make more research possible, and allow us to keep making our work available to all.
Affiliate fees and conflict of interest and bias
We have thought long and hard about how to charge for our content. We have decided that affiliate fees are a middle ground that sometimes makes sense.
We think it is true that using affiliate links creates some conflict of interest and bias. It creates a bias to write about products that have affiliate programs, and include lots of links to those products. However we think it’s less of a conflict of interest than traditional advertising, or sponsored content of various sorts. So we are dipping our toes into the water of this approach.
At the end of the day, we think the health and future of Tech-enhanced Life will depend on maintaining our independence and objectivity. And creating useful content that our readers find of value. So we plan to be very judicious about how we use affiliate links.
If you see work on our site that you think deviates from these guidelines, please let us know (contact us).
Listings and Showcases
We maintain a quite extensive database of products and services that our Longevity Explorer community think seem promising for improving the quality of life of us all as we age. You can browse this database of Useful Products and Resources here.
The basic listings include a summary prepared by Tech-enhanced Life or members of the explorer community, and include links to any detailed evaluations we have done, and to any discussions by the Longevity Explorers of these products or resources.
Acceptance Criteria & Fees
We accept only "listings" of products and resources which our exploration community believes look "interesting and potentially useful for older adults and their families".
The vast majority of listings in our database are there because our explorer community submitted them. We do not charge any fee to the companies whose products and resources are listed as a result of explorers recommending the products.
However, if a company approaches us and wishes us to create a new listing for their product, we do charge a small fee for investigating the product and deciding if it is appropriate for the listing database.
Due to resource constraints, these listings do not always include all the detail one would like, and both our readers and the owners of the "products and resources" in our database wanted us to find a way that these listings could be more comprehensive.
Our solution was to create a clearly marked section on each listing, called a "showcase", in which the company can add its own material. We ask them to try and include material that will clarify the features and benefits of the product. This "showcase" is in its own area on the page and is marked as being "from the company" and "sponsored". So, unlike most of the content on this website, it comes from "the company", and not from our researchers or the explorers.
If a company wishes to add a showcase to a listing, we charge a modest monthly fee for that "showcase".