Propeller Health Makes Mobile Monitoring Easy for Seniors

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a more advanced sensor device that requires less energy and therefore can last longer between charges, Van Sickle said.

“That’s part of our key strategy with COPD—remove every measure of effort that’s required,” Van Sickle said. “Make it as simple as possible for them to attach a sensor to their medication and get going. … We want to be able to serve the population who is low-tech or no-tech.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of tech-savvy senior citizens. AARP, the advocacy group for people age 50 and up, has an initiative called Health [email protected]+ that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in consumer health products that will benefit its constituents.

The initiative’s programs include a live pitch event at an AARP-hosted conference, in which healthtech startups not only demo their products directly to investors, but also to AARP members.

“Over time, as we have seen this [older] demographic come to events, there is an increasing understanding of technology and a comfort with the whole phenomena” of smartphones and cloud-enabled devices, said Sanjay Khurana, AARP director of innovation and thought leadership, and an entrepreneur who has worked on three tech startups. “What industry needs to step up is addressing how technology is delivered.”

That means simplifying the product design, packaging, and the messaging to older customers, Khurana said.

Some companies, like Propeller Health, are doing a good job of that, he said. He also cited AliveCor, a San Francisco-based company that created a heart monitor device that attaches to the back of a smartphone. AliveCor has presented at the AARP live pitch event, and feedback it got from AARP members influenced the startup to add a service that lets customers get an analysis of their electrocardiogram data from a cardiac technician within 30 minutes or a cardiologist within 24 hours, Khurana said.

“It’s no longer about building clunky products and services for healthcare apps,” Khurana said. “I think [mobile] health care aspires to the same usability as maybe social media.”

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