Insights from the Redesign Health Ecosystem: Improving Healthcare for Older Adults
Every day, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65. As the U.S. older adult population continues aging at an unprecedented rate, healthcare innovators are tasked with designing solutions that capture and address this population’s unique needs in a timely manner.
To explore the state of older adult healthcare in the United States and how these Operating Companies are approaching the complex, multi-faceted needs of this demographic, Missy Krasner, a Venture Chair at Redesign Health, recently held a roundtable discussion with three members of the Redesign Health ecosystem who are facilitating healthier aging:
Anne Marie Aponte: Co-Founder and COO of DUOS, a personal assistant service that helps older adults age independently, with the goal of forming trusted relationships with older adults using technology and community to support fulfilling lives at home.
Deborah Barnes Ph.D. and MPH: Chief Science Advisor of Together Senior Health, a digital therapeutic and community platform dedicated to helping people with Alzheimer's and dementia remain healthy and independent at home.
Scott Matthews: Co-Founder and CEO of Keen, which combines the power of trust-based personal relationships and purpose-built technology to deliver better Medicare plan selection and health outcomes to local communities.
The full conversation is at the end of this post. Here are a few key takeaways:
1. In order to truly redesign healthcare for older adults, solution-builders must understand how social determinants of health (SDOH) impact patient health outcomes. Preventive and effective solutions alleviate the impact of these determinants and improve older adults’ overall well-being.
“A recent study came out showing that 54% of single female seniors and 45% of single male seniors over 65 have insufficient income to pay for their basic living expenses. And there is a correlation between income and healthcare literacy that was published in JAMA. What you see is people with lower health care literacy end up picking more expensive, lower-quality plans, and they continue to get further behind. There’s a lot to think about in terms of diversity and cultural diversity in this population as we approach the market.” - Scott Matthews, Co-Founder and CEO of Keen
“We know that certain SDOH puts people at increased risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia, and that Black and Hispanic individuals have an increased risk of developing dementia, even after accounting for those other SDOH. There are other risk factors like chronic health conditions, hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, which are also more common in people who are already impacted by these SDOH. At Together Senior Health, we think about how to design a program and develop options for people who already have all of these other risk factors.” - Deborah Barnes, Chief Science Advisor of Together Senior Health
“At Together Senior Health, we think about how to design a program and develop options for people who already have all of these other risk factors.” - Deborah Barnes
2. A lack of education and awareness is a key barrier we need to overcome to drive engagement of benefits like grocery delivery, transportation perks, etc.
“There are a lot of great programs out there to close the gaps, but the awareness of these programs is low — especially programs for low income populations and dual eligibles. These plans are coming out with very rich benefits, like $300/month for healthy food, utilities, transportation, post-discharge meals, etc. But a lot of members just aren’t aware of this and don’t know how to navigate the complexities of the system to access these benefits. A lot of times it’s just an awareness gap.” - Scott Matthews, Co-Founder and CEO of Keen
“One of our health plan partners [at DUOS] is incredibly progressive and is investing heavily in supplemental benefits like meal benefits and transportation. Every member in this plan has access to NEMT benefits, and yet we’ve had to educate one-third of them about that benefit because they simply don’t know it’s there. I really do believe that providers and entities can really help bridge the gap to make better use of all the important investments being made right now.” - Anne Marie Aponte, Co-Founder and COO of DUOS
“There are a lot of great programs out there to close the gaps, but the awareness of these programs is low — especially programs for low income populations and dual eligibles.” - Scott Matthews
3. Today, baby boomers have an overwhelming preference to age in place: 75% of people over the age of 55 say they want to age in place (at home), and 50% say they will create life savings to do so. To ensure doing so is possible, we need healthcare solutions that shift away from the traditional dependency market and help facilitate greater independence.
“One of the things I’ve seen being a caregiver and taking care of someone with multiple sclerosis who’s had it for the majority of her adult life is that many of the products, services and technology solutions we see in the senior market are less focused on aging in place and more focused on traditional dependency market.” - Missy Krasner, Venture Chair at Redesign Health
“At Together Senior Health, part of how we shift from dependence to independence is helping remind people what they still can do. For example, we know that the muscle memory part of the brain still works really well in people with dementia. Part of our program is practicing movement sequences needed to support daily functions such as transitioning smoothly between sitting and standing.” - Deborah Barnes, Chief Science Advisor of Together Senior Health
“Many of the products, services and technology solutions we see in the senior market are less focused on aging in place and more focused on traditional dependency market.” - Missy Krasner
4. Providers of healthcare for older adults need to focus on engaging the caregiver in order to deliver more effective solutions.
“95% of the caregivers we've surveyed don't actually want to be alleviated of caregiving responsibilities. They just want more support doing it so they can balance all their other life responsibilities—especially considering how many of them are part of the sandwich generation, which means they’re both caring for an older adult and children. Demand for asynchronous tech-forward solutions to support caregivers is a lot higher than it is among older adults. We need to develop solutions that aren’t just catering to older adults or just caregivers, but rather can bring them together [to meet all objectives].” - Anne Marie Aponte, Co-Founder and COO of DUOS
5. Innovators must create more digitally-inclusive solutions to ensure all stakeholders – including patients, caregivers, providers, and payors – can benefit from innovation in the older adult care space. And it’s critical to build solutions that meet aging adults where they are in their healthcare journey.
“If you look at the 70-plus age population, you're looking at 60 to 65% smartphone adoption. When you look at 50 to 59 years old, [adoption’s at] about 85%. That being said, there's always going to be a segment of the population that's going to need some amount of that human touch. Offering a variety of [omnichannel and hybrid] ways to engage with a solution or engage with the [healthcare] system is only going to become increasingly important. Further, health plans and providers have historically latched on to high-touch disease management, care management and other types of programs that are really hard to scale to serve the needs of the broad population. Conversely, we've seen a lot of tech-only solutions that just aren't going to reach the segment of the population that's still a little bit behind in terms of type adoption. At DUOS, we’re aspiring to offer different paths and types of user experiences, so that we're honoring the diverse needs and preferences of this population.” - Anne Marie Aponte, Co-Founder and COO of DUOS
"We need to develop solutions that aren’t just catering to older adults or just caregivers, but rather can bring them together [to meet all objectives].” - Anne Marie Aponte
The key takeaways from this roundtable conversation align with research findings recently published by the Venture Insights Team at Redesign Health: healthcare solutions for aging adults must be tailored to their unique needs. It is crucial that providers find ways to increase awareness of available solutions and benefits, and better engage both patients and their caregivers. We look forward to watching how companies like Together Senior Health, DUOS and Keen continue to drive better healthcare for older adults and the positive impact they will have on our entire healthcare system.
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