Baby boomers make up the largest portion of healthcare service consumer group. Their expectations and lifestyles are therefore making an impact on how technology companies upgrade their devices, including hearing aids.
“They are the largest consumer of healthcare services, and they are very avid consumers of healthcare information and seek out information themselves,” Daniel Shen, founder of hearing aid company Eargo, said at the Connected Health Conference last week in Boston. “They approach the healthcare providers with greater initiative than older generations. What that means is from a medical device or solution standpoint, they are a very important generation and they may be able to seek out their own sources of information and not just from their doctors.”
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Approximately 30 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and older people are most affected by hearing loss. But many seniors still find it difficult to get hearing aids, reports MobiHealthNews. A single hearing aid costs around $2,300. Since these devices are not covered by Medicare, many senior citizens find it very hard to buy one.
The baby boomer population is mostly tech savvy. Around 68% of this population uses smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. Their familiarity with technology and their particular needs is driving tech companies to develop hearing aids that fit their needs.
“Designing for the baby boomer population isn’t about designing for millennials with grey hair. There are certain things designers have to keep in mind,” Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer at AARP, told MobiHealthNews. “First of all, the common trends of consumer electronics which use small text or unlabeled or nearly invisible buttons or unintuitive interfaces may not cut it. Designers have to keep in mind there may be limitations in terms of the hearing, vision and dexterity of this population.”
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Tech companies like Apple, Eargo and Google are getting involved in the hearing aid space. While Eargo team narrowed in on comfort, affordability, natural sound and a discrete look, Apple partnered with several hearing aid companies to stream the technology. Google teamed up with Cochlear and GN Hearing to launch a new service that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to stream content from Android devices directly to hearing aids.