On an ever growing basis it seems, medical devices are taking the form of wearable technology and of devices that couple with smartphones. What implications does this have for a population that is aging? Do older adults still have a phobia regarding technology? If so, can new wearable/smartphone medical technology be effective for that population segment?
The Pew Research Center did a study in 2013 on technology adoption based on age, income and education levels. The study results are telling, and have interesting ramifications (I encourage you to click the link and read the study). Overall, behavior of the older population (aged 65 and older) vis-a-vis technology adoption falls into two distinct groups. Those in the group who are younger (less than 75), more educated and more affluent (family income above $75,000/yr.) adopt new technology in significantly greater numbers than do older (over 75), less educated and less affluent (family income under $30,000/yr.) people. Those in the latter segment are also those with the most health/disability issues, and who could benefit most from new medical technologies.
The profile described above reveals a significant challenge for the medical device design community: how to deliver new technology inexpensively, and how to design medical products and devices in such a way that an older, sicker population will embrace. The evidence suggests that devices that couple with smartphones will not reach that population segment. As the younger group ages, will they bring their technology adoption habits with them, or will adoption of new technology drop for them too?