The development of smart sensors and falling device costs have made it possible to offer aging-in-place, chronic disease management, and post-acute care services in the smart home. Sensor-based technology continues to enable new applications related to health and wellness, with solutions for seniors and sleep technology leading the way.
Senior tech is gaining momentum, with cross-interest from the smart home and healthcare industries.
The pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of older consumers and the need for carefully designed technologies and services to reach them at home. A growing number of home security providers are branching out to offer Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) to their customers, and PERS solution providers are also developing new remote patient monitoring platforms. With a growing focus on home care, expect PERS providers to serve as a bridge between medical providers and the home care industry.
PERS solutions dominate the market for independent living solutions, with 58% of caregivers saying they intend to buy for their loved ones.
Additionally, as more and more healthcare activities take place in the home, continuous monitoring solutions – including those that can track a patient’s condition overnight – and new technologies like the Artificial intelligence will be essential to support communications between providers and patients. Solutions that offer continuous, passive monitoring will play a critical role in helping fill the gaps, especially in assessing patient deterioration or significant changes in health status.
In 2021, nearly a quarter of heads of U.S. broadband households say they are currently caring for a loved one or expect to provide care within the next five years. The majority of the population taken care of resides at home or at the home of a relative. Research from Parks Associates indicates that consumers have a strong desire to live independently, and sensor-based technology will enable seniors and caregivers to receive relevant and meaningful notifications.
Bridging the Information Gap at Night: Sleep as a Vital Sign
A patient’s sleep patterns and overall health at night remain blind spots in many remote patient monitoring programs. Interestingly, studies show that patients sleep particularly poorly in hospital settings, given the frequent interruptions to nighttime monitoring of vital signs. Part of the push towards recovery and home care is the benefits patients derive from more comfortable sleep. Yet this means a potential risk of missing patient deterioration without the right monitoring tools.
Additionally, healthcare providers and clinical researchers are increasingly recognizing that sleep duration and quality are so fundamental to the overall health of patients, and potentially indicative of a variety of serious health conditions, that they should be treated as an essential vital sign. Poor sleep habits can both cause and exacerbate a number of other health problems, including congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, heart disease, and obesity. Nighttime monitoring provides clinicians with increased insight and detail into vital signs data. According to leading medical reports, the most critical health events are preceded by warning signs detectable hours before the event.
The ability to provide insights from vital signs data during sleep allows for a more comprehensive view of chronic and high-risk conditions. Continuous nighttime monitoring provides clinicians with greater temporal understanding and their ability to link sleep quality data to vital signs for a more comprehensive view of key clinical markers common in chronic and high-risk conditions. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Current evidence supports the importance of healthy sleep for cognitive function and mood, as well as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and metabolic health. Chronic insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
Consumers are showing a growing awareness of the importance of sleep. Ten percent of US broadband households report owning a smart sleep product, such as smart mattresses and standalone sleep monitors. That’s double the adoption rate of just two years ago. Consumers are also interested in features of smart products that can monitor or optimize their sleep, as the company’s research reveals that one in five seniors find a smart thermostat that detects their sleep patterns and optimizes temperatures in their home to ensure his “very appealing” best sleep. It is even higher among pre-seniors: 31% of 50-59 year olds are interested in this ability. Additionally, more than half of those who plan to buy a smartwatch in the next 6 months say they would pay more for a model that can track their sleep quality and patterns and give advice on how to improve their sleep.
For more information on digital health, new business models, IoT technologies, consumer behaviors and deployments relevant to consumer health solutions, please visit www.parksassociates.com or attend one of his Connected Health Summit 2022 sessions.
This is an excerpt from research in cooperation with EarlySense.