It’s no secret that older individuals consume the bulk of health care resources. It’s also no secret that the US population is aging, as the baby boom enters its senior years. Medical product development is not addressing this phenomenon adequately.
This article from Medcity News highlights that many companies are focusing on digital solutions. I fear that by emphasizing the digital, those in medical product development will ignore ways in which already existing technology can be made easier for older individuals to use, and I believe that ignores an important opportunity.
Consider just the anectdotal evidence that as we age we become more resistant to change and to new technology we don’t understand. How many of us are amused by our parents or grandparents who have difficulty performing the most rudimentary tasks on a computer?
Advances in digital technology will of course enable many innovations in medical product development that will help an aging population. But equal emphasis needs to be placed on how our abilites – both physical and cognitive – change as we age, and how these coming new technologies can be made easy to use by older individuals. Further, how to position products through their design so that they relate to the familiar and don’t intimidate the older user will be just as important as making them easy to use.