Commentary

Are You Ready For The Longevity Economy?

For most of the recent past, when you thought about health care for people over 50, a few images came to mind. Mostly managing chronic illness and helping to keep sick people alive. Our grandparents’ frequent trips to the doctor were often consumed with pain management and dealing with the negative results of the aging process. They’d go from specialist to specialist, getting treated for chronic diseases until they died or became too sick to care for themselves. A depressing prospect for those of us who just crossed the line into the 50 - 64 demographic.

Thanks to advances in medicine and more awareness of nutrition and exercise, Boomers will have a different experience interfacing with medical care, and the changes are just beginning. By combing modern medicine with the amazing advances in technology, a whole new world is opening up. Not only will Boomers have a better quality of life, but hundreds of new and existing companies will have a significant opportunity to build new markets and rake in billions in revenue from affluent and middle class Boomers.

AARP has been watching this trend closely and recently published their 2016 Health Innovations Frontiers report that is available on their website. Not only do they explain and outline the opportunity, but they gave it a name that is quite apt, “The Longevity Economy.” On one level, it is clearly a marketing label; there is an interesting deeper meaning. As mentioned above, healthcare after 50 was about managing decline and disease.

Now it is being turned 180 degrees by using innovation and preventive care to improve the quality of life and lengthen life spans. This is more than marketing spin; there has been a real and significant change in how Boomers view health and wellness. They are staying active and eating healthy while giving up the bad habits of their youth. Recently, I was talking to fellow 50+ friend after a particularly grueling CrossFit workout we put ourselves through to start the weekend. Our goal is not just to stay alive, but to excel and keep up with the 20 and 30 year olds in the gym. While past generations may have seen their 60’s and 70’s as old age, we have no plans to slow down.

AARP projects that the Longevity Economy will be fueled by digital disruption — the same force that transformed media, finance, travel and dozens of other industries will change healthcare as we know it. These innovation-led solutions for Boomers will generate $34 billion in revenue in 2015 compared to the $68 billion for traditional health care spending. They see the revenue from disruptive models growing 25% CAGR by 2020 while traditional spending will be flat. In fact, by 2020 innovation driven spending will represent 42% of all healthcare spending compared to 20% today.

There are several categories of innovation we will explore in future posts, but much of it revolves around using new technology such as sensors, AI-driven smart algorithms, cloud and SaaS platforms and mobile technology to power fitness trackers, on-demand care, medication management, safety monitoring, home care and diet/nutrition services. New technologies will revolutionize the delivery of care and payments in the same manner the local bank is being disrupted today by FinTech.

Boomers will continue to change industries and lifestyles by changing what it means to live and thrive in their later years, and it will be driven by our seemingly unquenchable desire for new technology and the advances it enables.

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