The Apple Watch, ECG and fall detection–a trend too far?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/apple-watch-series-4-elektrokardiogram.jpg” thumb_width=”125″ /]Mid-September’s Apple Fans kvelled about the Apple Watch Series 4 debut. Much was made in the health tech press of Apple’s rapid FDA clearance and the symbolism of their further moves into medical devices with the Series 4 addition of a built-in atrial fibrillation-detecting algorithm and an ECG, along with fall detection via the new accelerometer and gyroscope.

This latter feature is significant to our Readers, but judging from Apple’s marketing and the press, hardly an appealing Unique Selling Proposition to the Apple FanBoys’n’Girls who tend to be about 35 or wannabe. The website touts the ECG as a performance feature, a ‘guardian and guru’ topping all the activity, working out, and kickboxing you’re doing. It positions the fall detection and Emergency SOS in the context of safety during or after hard working out or an accident. It then calls 911 (cellular), notifies your emergency contacts, sends your current location, and displays your Medical ID badge on the screen for emergency personnel, which may not endear its users to fire and police departments. 

Laurie Orlov in her latest Age In Place Tech article points out the disconnect between the fall risk population of those aged 70+ and the disabled versus the actual propensity (and fisc) to buy an Apple Gizmo at $400+. PewInternet’s survey found that 46 percent of those over 65 actually own a smartphone, though this Editor believes that 1) much less than 50 percent are Apple and 2) most smartphone features beyond the basic remain a mystery to many. (Where store helpers, children, and grandchildren come in!)

Selling to older adults is obviously not the way that Apple is going, but there may be a subset of ‘young affluent old’ who want to sport an Apple Watch and also cover themselves for their cardiac or fall risk. (Or have children who buy it.) This is likely a sliver of a subset of the mobile PERS market, which is surprisingly small–only 20 percent of the total PERS market. But monitoring centers–doubtful, despite it being lucrative for GreatCall.

The traditional PERS as ‘ancient history’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Fallen-woman.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Something to think about. How many families and older adults are aware that the traditional PERS emergency pendant, which has been around for at least 40 years, is sadly outdated and in fact inadequate for those at greatest risk? While major advertisers on US media such as Life Alert, Life Call, ADT and Philips Lifeline present crisis situations where the older person is on the floor and is rescued after pressing the pendant button, they barely advertise their other available products that incorporate passive fall detection and cellular, even if somewhat inadequate for soft falls or unconsciousness. Families unwisely feel ‘protected’ when paying for traditional PERS, not realizing that more advanced technology is readily available and not that much more expensive. Moreover, and only mentioned in the context of his grandmother’s fall while in senior housing, there is a distinct recalcitrance of senior housing executives to rid their apartments of the (cheap) old pendants and replace them with (pricier) passive/cellular assistance systems, much less more advanced wearables/RFID systems or mobile/watch combinations. This Editor also notes that the major drugstore chains also sell PERS; while they trumpet wellness in their advertising, they are as behind the curve in this area as senior housing. Neil Versel in MedCityNews.

For our Readers: can we compare/contrast how the UK, EU and US are still wedded to traditional PERS after 40 years, and if more advanced forms are starting to take hold? Click on the headline to see comments, including this Editor’s opining on traditional PERS as ‘cash cow’.