AARP teams with Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare on mHealth for older populations

A new research program aims to help developers find out how consumers age 50 and older use health technology, particularly sleep trackers, to gain insight into the best ways to create devices and apps for an aging population. 

The effort, called Project Catalyst, is being spearheaded by the AARP, with research led by the Georgia Tech Research Institute HomeLab and support from pharma giant Pfizer as well as UnitedHealthcare. Findings will be available by June, according to an AARP announcement.

"By putting the consumer at the center of the innovation process, developers are provided with actionable insights into end-user behavior at the front end of ideation and development," the AARP's Project Catalyst website says.

Georgia Tech Research Institute's HomeLab uses a network of more than 550 older-adult research participants for in-home research and product testing.

"Technology that is designed well--designed for all--can be used by a 5-year-old and a 95-year-old, alike. We are thrilled about starting this study and commencing the launch of the Project Catalyst program," Jody Holtzman, AARP senior vice president of thought leadership, said in the announcement. "The goals of Project Catalyst are in direct alignment with the mission of AARP--to identify challenges and determine solutions to improve the quality of life for people as they age."

The news comes as an increasing number of providers, payers and advocacy groups focus more tightly on consumer demographics to spur mHealth technology. One of the most recent: A partnership between Apple and IBM that launched four mHealth apps to help nurses with patient care and management tasks.

Such efforts also are what the Family Medicine for America's Health called for earlier this year in order to overcome hurdles of using mHealth tech in primary care, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported. One example is the ongoing joint mHealth development efforts by BlackBerry and NantHealth, which has resulted in a cancer genome browser and the building of a BlackBerry specific to the healthcare segment.

The AARP sleep tracking study will include up to 80 consumers testing five different devices over a six-week period. Researchers will evaluate the products' use and their barriers to engagement but will not rank the products.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- read about Project Catalyst

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