REPORT | A Snapshot of Global Innovation in Aging and Senior Care

Last year, Aging2.0 received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a project we ran called, ‘Global Innovations | Local Benefits,’ which systematically looked at innovations and innovators from across our global network, with a view to distilling trends, lessons and best practices that could be used to help the US healthcare system. We are pleased to announce the publication of the report, ‘A snapshot of global innovation in aging and senior care’, which together with input during the OPTIMIZE Conference last year, represents a synthesis of the project.

Click here to download the full report.

With world populations aging at unprecedented rates, technology changing rapidly, and funding resources growing more strained, there is an increasing need for policy makers, providers, and entrepreneurs to search the world for the best ideas and insights that can transform the aging experience. While this report focuses on the United States, these are globally relevant trends.

The report starts with an overview of the “state of innovation” in aging and senior care. From a review of the hundreds of startups we have seen over the past four years, including in last year’s Global Startup Search, we identified four key categories of solutions - Mind, Mobility, Independence and Care, 10 key innovation trends shaping the aging and senior care landscape, and a focus on the 10 winners of last year’s Aging2.0 startup competition, the Global Startup Search. Given recent findings of the health impacts of loneliness, the report concludes with a deeper dive into companies focused on social inclusion experiences - an area where foreign companies seem particularly strong.

During the research, we discovered that an increasing number of startups operate on the social determinants of health, in particular social inclusion. Experts in aging have always emphasized the importance of “whole person” care, rather than purely just treating the clinical symptoms, and this is the direction that healthcare as a whole is heading.

Moreover, many promising areas for innovation including wearables, smart homes, voice interface, robots, and autonomous vehicles are being driven from outside healthcare entirely, with many coming from outside the U.S. As U.S. health policy makers plan for the future, non-healthcare sectors and foreign innovators will become increasingly important.

As we outline in the conclusion, three questions stand out as ripe for more in-depth research:

  1. What are the most important challenges facing older adults where innovation could play a pivotal role?
  2. How should we measure success, other than in purely financial terms?
  3. How can we connect innovators and create ways to share best practices and strategies to reduce the inherent fragmentation that is so prevalent?

Regarding the last question, we see significant need and opportunities in sharing best practices among industry incumbents and innovators, sharing data (such as common standards and shared protocols), and developing new business models (such as through performance-based models).

Progress in answering these three questions will help accelerate innovation in this area and in turn benefit older adults, health systems, and society as a whole.

We’re grateful for the support that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided, and look forward to continuing to build Aging2.0 as a truly global platform for innovators, industry leaders, investors and older adults in the months and years ahead.

Support for this research was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.