The Impact Gaps

The Internet of Things
Artificial Intelligence
There exists a gap between the capability of technology and its application to aged services, due to:
A failure of governments to create a competitive environment among the provision of healthcare services,
An unwillingness for businesses to take commercial risks in a highly regulated environment, and;
A failure of technology companies to engage and understand the specific needs and requirements of older people, leading to poor levels of market adoption.
A low level of digitalisation in aged care

Governments should implement reforms to increase competition in the provision of aged services

  • Historically, the provision of aged services in Australia and the UK has been subject to significant regulation. Governments should introduce policy with the intention of incentivising the development of new services, such as reducing the requirements to become a provider of aged care services or providing consumers with greater choice in the way government funding can be spent. Australia has already taken the first step, with the introduction of Consumer Directed Care reforms with these intentions.
  • Greater competition will incentivise service providers to provide more value to consumers of care, and pursue efficiencies in the delivery of care. This will not only lower the cost of formal care (making it a more sustainable alternative to unpaid care), but also drive the commercialisation of digital services that can support informal carers.

Aged care service providers must embrace IoT and machine learning applications for aged care

The IoT and artificial intelligence have potential to transform the way that informal care is delivered, supporting individual carers and ensuring the long-term sustainability of informal care. Leveraging technology solutions developed in other industries, the IoT and aritifical intelligence could be used to:
  • Support older people to live at home, reducing the demand for informal care,
  • Automate elements of the caring role, supporting working carers to deliver care more efficiently, and
  • Provide carers with peace of mind, lowering levels of stress and anxiety.

Technology companies must become ‘age-literate’

  • Technology companies have traditionally focussed on younger consumers, regarding them as ‘early adopters’. This is symptomatic of broader and pervasive ageism, which disregards older people as contributors and consumers. Additionally, there is a significant underrepresentation of older people in the technology industry workforce, which is likely to reduce the industry’s understanding of older people’s wants and needs, and capability to design solutions that accommodate these (40).
  • The growing business opportunity to serve older people in the UK and Australia means that technology companies should invest in becoming age-literate. This can be achieved by developing a more age-diverse workforce and engaging older people early in the design process.