Technology seen as key LTC tool

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The role of technology played a new and surprisingly central role at this week's White House Conference on Aging. Speakers and other experts pointed to new innovations as the keys to better care and lower costs in the future.

More than 30 entities, representing vendors and research centers, exhibited at a technology themed pavilion at the conference. They offered a wide range of options, ranging from video games that measure cognitive decline to wristwatches that reveal a resident's location.

"Technology represents and opportunity for older Americans to fundamentally change the nature of their lives," said Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But Intel Corp. Chairman Craig R. Barrett said domestic hurdles – including many regulatory burdens -- are delaying the ability of developers to bring new products to market. Barrett called for a fast-track regulatory approach, as has been used in other scenarios, as one way to reduce delays.

Pointing to a prototype wristwatch he was wearing that measures his vital signs, he lamented, "It's real, it works, and it's not on the market."

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