The Ultimate Tech Product Test: “Is It Good Enough for Mom?”

May 20, 2014
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tech product test

photo credit Jeffrey Makowka via Twitter

“If you’re not developing for the 50+ market, you should be,” said Sanjay Khurana, Director of Thought Leadership for AARP.

tech product test

photo credit Jeffrey Makowka via Twitter

“If you’re not developing for the 50+ market, you should be,” said Sanjay Khurana, Director of Thought Leadership for AARP.

In Sanjay’s recent talk at HxRefactored — a 2-day conference that uniquely brought together designers, innovators, providers, payors, and clinicians to discuss the future of user centered practices in health care — he highlighted a striking fact that many technologists today overlook: The wealth of the 50+ demographic would be the 3rd largest economy in the world.

His message to innovators? Stop designing for the messenger-bag-totting hipster. Try addressing the 100 million strong demographic (the 50+) that generates annually over $7.1 trillion in economic activity in the US.

And the money is following towards this economic trend: there has been a 59% increase in funding for aging tech (for startups like us!), despite the fact that it’s not as “sexy” a segment as other areas of health tech.

Given the vast array of challenges and problems facing the aging demographic, where are the biggest opportunities for innovation? Medication management, vital sign monitoring, and care navigation offer the largest areas of growth, Khurana said. The full report from AARP and Startup Health highlights all nine health innovation frontiers, which represent a vast and under-addressed market opportunity.

innovation in healthcareHowever, getting seniors and caregivers to actually change their behaviors will be the ultimate key to success, Khurana pointed out, saying, “Great design is at the center of effective behavior change”. Good design matters because it changes people’s perceptions — and in this case, false misconceptions about aging and growing older. Consider “senior citizen” products of the past (the “Help I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up” commercial comes to mind), and you instantly have a mental image of something that’s aesthetically lacking to say the least — bland colors, clunky user interfaces, etc. Khurana compelled innovators to put their products to the “Mom” test and themselves “Is this product good enough for my Mom? She deserves the best”.

Khurana went on to elaborate that the products that will win out in today’s aging tech market are ones that:

  • are affordable
  • solve a simple problem
  • make software updates a seamless process

If you’re interested in learning more about digital health insights for the 50+ market, read AARP’s report here.