What Will Consumers Pay for Technology to Enhance Independence?

The growth of the older adult population and the rising costs of providing care have led to great interest in the development of new assistive technology. So-called quality of life technologies (QoLT)—such as computerized medication dispensing and tracking devices, glucometers and blood pressure monitors, and other assistive technologies—may soon make important contributions to the well-being and independence of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing automated assistance with self-care and activities of daily living (ADLs). If new QoLT are to see widespread adoption, however, it is important to determine whether potential users see them as acceptable, and how much they may be willing to pay for such technologies. A forthcoming article in the Gerontologist reports on a study of potential QoLT users and their willingness to pay for these technologies.

Based on previous research, the investigators hypothesized that willingness to pay for QoLT would be related to individual participants’ attitudes toward technology, functional status (in terms of ability to independently carry out ADLs), and perception that they would be likely to need QoLT in the future. They surveyed a demographically representative sample of 416 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64, and 114 individuals age 65 or better on the topic, by asking respondents to assume that they needed help with either kitchen activities or personal care, and that technologies were available to help them complete these tasks. Participants were then asked whether they would be willing to use QoLT, and how much per month they would pay for such a service. Participants were also surveyed on their views of technology (including privacy concerns), any difficulties they have with ADLs, and whether or not they believed they would at some point need assistance with kitchen tasks or ADLs. General demographic information was also collected.

The majority of participants were willing to use QoLT should the need arise, and most were willing to pay, with 72.4 percent being willing to pay for kitchen assistance and 71.7 percent being willing to pay for personal assistance. The average highest monthly sum that participants were willing to pay was around $40 for kitchen assistance, and $45 for personal care assistance. Individuals with high concerns over privacy were less willing to pay for QoLT, while those with higher incomes and who expected to need future help with ADL tasks were willing to pay more. All of the participants who currently had at least one ADL impairment reported that they were willing to pay for QoLT. Older adults were as interested in QoLT as the 45-to-64 age group, and individual attitudes toward technology were not, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, associated with willingness to pay.


Schulz R, Beach SR, Matthews JT, et al. Willingness to pay for quality of life technologies to enhance independent functioning among baby boomers and the elderly adults. The Gerontologist. (2013). DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnt016


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