Home Healthcare – What role should governments play?

In this Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 photo, Nippon Telegraph and Telegram Corp. Communications Science Laboratories staff imitates to brush his teeth during a demonstration of a wearable sensor attached to a wristwatch-like device during the NTT Research and Development Forum in Tokyo. Japan's top telecom company NTT says using this technology, what an elderly person is doing during each hour of the day can be shown on a chart. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Population aging is a growing global problem that technology can help address, but how do we make sure the technologies provide needed solutions to problems rather than distractions? Engineers too often create products because they can and then turn them over to marketing to find unfulfilled needs. A better way is to start with a true understanding of what’s actually needed and what solutions would be worth. Ethnographic market research is one approach to such discovery, but another is social media.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Internet is not telemedicine but as a facilitator of common understanding. People can then come together online to share their stories and discuss individual issues, as well as the challenges of adopting proposed solutions. All of this can lead to innovative uses of technology, including telemedicine.

So what role should governments play? It seems to me that nurturing such an environment and private investment can be done with visionary leadership rather than much public funding of government chosen winners and losers, since that can lead to corruption.

This was my response to an article on a Japanese company developing sensors for seniors (http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=33&sid=2281892).