AARP’s Top 10 Health Tech Innovations for 50+

A colleague at tipped me off this week to AARP’s recent HealthInnovation@50+ LivePitch event, which took place on Sept 21st in New Orleans. (Thanks Kate Boyd!)

It is interesting stuff if you want to see what AARP’s team considered promising upcoming health tech innovations for the 50+ set.

Essentially, AARP invited companies with a new consumer-oriented health technology for the “50 and over” market to apply for one of ten spots at the LivePitch event. At the event, they got to present two pitches: one for investors, one for AARP consumers. The companies had to be fairly small (less than $5 million in funding so far) and prepared to launch their product within one year of the event.

The list of the ten finalists is here.

As an on-the-ground doctor focused on caring for elderly people, here’s my version of the list with short synposes of the service. My initial reactions are in purple:

  • 1 Doc way: Web-based platform for videochat and telemedicine; doctors pay small fee to use, free to consumer. Presumably doctors will adopt in order to do reimbursable telemedicine visits.
    • Meh. One, I’m not sure I can practice good geriatrics on patients I’ve never seen in person. Two, couldn’t I use Skype, or something free?
  • Abilto: Behavioral health therapy via video. According to the video on their site, they can provide a health coach and cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT), including in evenings.
    • I’m interested. I’ve had trouble getting patients and families in to CBT; this could help solve the access issues.
    • But does this team have experience coaching patients with cognitive impairment? Mild dementia and depression is a common combo. And how effectively can this team coach and counsel caregivers of people with dementia?
  • Carelinx: A service to help consumers and others find and manage paid caregivers. They offer a screened pool of caregivers, and then infrastructure to manage schedules, payment, etc.
    • I’m interested. I often recommend families consider getting paid help; a service that makes this easier for families to do would help hugely.
  • Per their site “CareTree is the new communication and collaboration platform for
    Caregivers, family members, and services providers to keep each other in
    the loop.”

    • I’m a little skeptical. The goal is laudable, but unclear how they plan to convince service providers (like doctors) to participate. No busy provider wants to have to check in with an extra service unless there is a good financial incentive AND it’s pretty feasible from a workflow perspective.
  • Evermind: Technology that monitors the electronic appliances an older person is uses as part of daily routine. Presumably alerts family to a change. Not yet much info on their website.
    • Weird! Could be an interesting gizmo for families to know whether a loved one has deviated from routine.
  • GenieMD, LLC: Cloud-based iPhone app to track medications, vitals, emergency contacts, and provide prepackaged health info.
    • Meh. Hard to imagine this being used by a geriatric patient. Not at all clear how this interfaces with the doctor. I’ve not been impressed by similar products in the past.
  • GeriJoy: Tablet-based virtual talking pet! Responds to voice commands. Supposed to reduce social isolation by providing the benefits of pet ownership without the pooper-scooper.
    • Love the name! Does kind of sound like a gag gift, but maybe older people will like this a whole lot more than I realize.
  • LivWell Health: I confess I had trouble figuring out what this one does, here’s their own blurb: ” For about the cost of a coffee a day, subscribers can: Access a
    web-based care coordination system, book vetted service providers, and
    video-chat with their Concierge!” I think this may mean this is a type of virtual geriatric care manager?

    • Meh, probably not for my patients. Really seems to be more of a lifestyle support app; not clear that it will help much with medical issues.
  • MedClimate: Secure mobile “EHR-agnostic” patient portal system, includes e-prescribing, video conferencing, appointment scheduling, online billing, and integration with remote monitoring devices. Seems to be meant for doctors, as a mobile adjunct an existing EMR (you can write soap notes and export to EMR).
    •  Well, maybe. I expect physicians and patients will be more interested in portals over the coming years, and I believe portals are required for Stage 2 Meaningful Use.
    • Will providers want to use this, rather than the portal native to their own EMR?
  • QMedic: Next-generation personal emergency response system (PERS) based on a wristband; family can access activity remotely.
    • Sounds good, although I actually don’t know nearly as much about PERS options as I’d like to.

What I’m most interested in:

Definitely Carelinx. It’s a service that I can see trying out right away, as it meets a need that I have as a geriatrician (need to help families find paid help when it seems they need it). It also doesn’t require me to make much change to my own workflow.

Next most interesting to me is Abilto, especially if their coaches and therapists have any experience helping people with mild dementia, or dementia caregivers. This is a large area of inadequately met need, so I hope they’ll consider developing this expertise.

I’m also interested in QMedic, although before recommending a PERS to any of my patients or families, I’d probably need to find out more about how much it costs relative to more conventional options.

What strikes me about the LivePitch event:

I’m pleasantly surprised to see that even though the event was billed as health tech for the 50+ market, I can envision most of these being applied to geriatric patients. Possibly this is because many boomers are worried about aging parents.

However, I’m a little disappointed that the event involved pitching to investors and consumers, but not to geriatricians or geriatric care managers. The feedback of clinicians and eldercare providers would be useful, both because we’d be interfacing with most of these technologies, and because we are influential when we recommend things to our patients and clients.

And which companies won at LivePitch?
(Note: I did write my thoughts above before seeing who won.)

The investor judges voted for Abilto.

The consumers voted for Carelinx.

I will be keeping an eye out for these companies’ product for sure, I would love to give them a try. Which products could you envision working with?



  1. You mention using Skype for video-communicating with your patients.

    As a practicing family physician/geriatrician who is unusually tech savvy, I see the allure of this notion. However, there are several often unforeseen challenges.

    1. Not HIPAA compliant: Although the actual connection is peer-peer and encrypted, Skype allows everyone to see all of the contacts of contacts. This can’t be disabled. So, everyone connected with each patient will know that they are seeing this particular doctor.

    2. Patient consent and education: Providers need documented consent to use the technology. Patients need to be educated on how and when to use the Skype visits and booking virtual vs. in person visits need to be handled at the front desk. Staff need to be educated that any other Skype communications, such as messaging and emailing, are not HIPAA compliant

    3. Doctor ‘always available’: On Skype, all contacts can see when someone is online. This means potentially getting called during a visit, video or other, with another patient. There is a way to hide your online status, but it is very difficult to find. Most providers won’t even think to look for the functionality until they’ve experienced the problem.

    4. Don’t get a call: If Skype isn’t running on your computer and sound isn’t enabled, Skype doesn’t call. There are no notifications, there is no way to ‘signal’ the patient that you’re calling or starting the visit.
    Solution: The doctor will then also need a phone number if the patient is ‘no-showing’ to call. Are they really no-showing, or just trying to sign in? Are they waiting for the call, but their computer’s sound is off? Did they sign into the wrong account?

    5. Technology is not that easy: And it’s even worse under time pressure, for both the doctor and the patient. Finding the program, opening it, finding and inviting contact (see HIPAA discussion above), accepting contact invitation (without which video isn’t enabled), starting video, expanding appropriate windows are all issues that providers and patients will struggle with.

    Beyond HIPAA compliant ‘pipes’ there are many reasons why consumer-grade videoconferencing technology doesn’t seamlessly fit as is into the medical office.

    However, videoconferencing clearly belongs in the doctor’s office. Today. Not only for patient tele-visits, but also to bring the patient’s care circle (family, caregivers, friends and other providers) into the doctor’s visit virtually when they can’t be there in person.

    I have personally experienced this problem as a family physician, a geriatrician and as a daughter. Leveraging modern technology in a HIPAA compliant fashion to bring patient and family into the medical encounter is going to be the new normal. At, we’re making this a reality today.

    Elise Singer MD MBA
    CEO ShareTheVisit

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