Buddi looking for two dynamic Sales Account Managers (UK)

click to enlargeA note from reader Fiona Carmichael advises us that the Buddi personal emergency response system is seeking two professionals to become UK Sales Account Managers. “Your role will have a key focus on driving new business within a B2B environment, as well as building and developing existing customer accounts for organic growth.” Please contact Fiona directly after you read the job description (docx). (This closes 28 Feb.)

(A reminder to our Readers that Who’s Hiring–and Who’s Available–are free services of TTA and a great way to connect with thousands of readers in the UK and the US. We post initially in Latest News and archive in ‘Who’s available?’ and ‘Who’s hiring’.)

UnaliWear’s Kanega PERS watch nears US launch

click to enlargeCatching up with UnaliWear’s Kanega watch, which (unbelievably) we haven’t written about since 2015 but have noticed in the Austin tech news, we are cheered to hear that the company is nearing a market launch. This is after two 2016 raises: a November $3.5 million Series A at a $15 million valuation and a February $3.4 million seed round (CrunchBase). This Editor spoke with founder/developer Jean Anne Booth at the 2015 HIMSS Connected Health Conference/mHealth Summit (now PCHA Connected Health Conference) after seeing it in 2014, and was impressed by the design and workmanship of the watches at that time. Ms Booth, a self-described tech geek who developed and sold Luminary Micro, which created a microcontroller (MCU) platform, to Texas Instruments and is also an AMD alumna, wanted an emergency alert device that was stylishly designed to her mother’s exacting standards (a former fashion model and impeccable dresser, left above) and functionally advanced. Her initial designs were funded through a Kickstarter campaign [TTA 27 Mar 15]. As we reported before that in February, it’s quite apart from the usual run of PERS. click to enlargeKanega is fully cellular, self-contained and voice-controlled with no buttons: GPS, emergency response connection, fall/inactivity detection, ‘guide me home’ location based voice assistance and medication reminder/assistance behind a high-contrast digital time display which makes it look like a regular (albeit fashionably chunky) watch (left). In mid-year, which is the scheduled market launch, the activation fee will be $50 with a monthly charge of $49.99. If you can’t wait, pre-orders are being takenPC Magazine

A curious ‘Ripple’ of an announcement involving Tunstall Americas

click to enlarge A startup company in the US, Ripple Network Technologies, announced on 31 January its Kickstarter campaign for what appears to be a small, stylish personal safety device styled like a small metal lock or locket. The release states that “Ripple users can discreetly signal their monitoring team for help with the click of a penny-sized Bluetooth wearable, designed by the creators of 360fly and Misfit Shine” that connects to a smartphone. One of the features is that there’s a partnership with Tunstall Americas to provide that 24/7 monitoring, with an extensive quote from CEO/president Casey Pittock.

It’s clearly aimed at a younger market than typical for PERS, concerned with stylish safety in ‘lone’ situations and not with ‘falling and I can’t get up’. The stated Kickstarter price is also appealing: $129 for the standard sensor, $199 for a specially designed sterling locket style, both inclusive of one year of monitoring service. Release is scheduled for April.

Despite this announcement, the Kickstarter site is not up yet. The Ripple website has a flashy animation homepage without detail, found only through their LinkedIn company page which also is bereft of details. Other than the release pickup on ReadItQuik.com, this Editor cannot locate the release on the standard PR release sites such as Business Wire or PRWeb. (The Tunstall Americas website has not been updated for news since last August.) A curious start indeed.

Update: Ripple’s communications director in the Comments has supplied the Kickstarter link which went live on 1 Feb, and is here. The website now has an Order Now button which links to the Kickstarter page. Key features: click once to receive a call from the monitoring center, or click 3 times or more to summon emergency help or a call per your profile setup. A potential drawback: no two-way communication except via phone and the BTE connection, which if you are separated from it (for instance, your purse is stolen), the system won’t work.

The requested raise is $50,000 by 3 March. PRNewswire release.

Tunstall Americas adopts belle

We haven’t heard much from Tunstall Healthcare in the past two months, but Tunstall Americas has announced that the belle PERS unit has been added to the US line of products which now . The belle is on the AT&T GSM cellular network for two-way voice communication with their 24/7 call center and GPS location technology. The pendant has a rechargeable battery that can last up to 30 days on a single charge, and can be either worn or carried in pocket or purse. Also new in the line is the Tunstall flood detector which signals the call center through the Vi+ and CEL.  Release, Tunstall Americas website.

Ireland telecare monitoring a relative price bargain

Our former Ireland editor Toni Bunting, in her business development capacity with TASK Community Care in County Meath and Belfast, notes that Irish pendant alarm (PERS) monitoring charges are on average considerably lower than charges in the UK and in Europe. At current advertised rates of approximately €65 – €80 annually, the rates are lower than the 2010 study of UK rates of £170-200 and £200 – £300 in Europe. (Of course with fluctuations in the pound, that may change!) Toni is asking if there are rates in Ireland which fall substantially outside this range, so please be in touch here or on Telecare.ie-Ireland’s Telecare Magazine, which provides information on emergency pendant alarms, telecare and 24/7 monitoring for Irish individuals, community workers and health professionals.

Chubb expands Community Care into Scandinavia (UK)

click to enlargeChubb Community Care, a UK company which provides home and mobile technology enabled care solutions (TECS) for independent, assisted, sheltered and extra care housing, announced their expansion into Norway, Sweden and Finland, partnering with Norwegian equipment supplier HEPRO which provides local service and market knowledge. Their first project is in HEPRO’s home country with the new Chubb Care Call. Care Call (left) is a colorful wall-mounted mobile-connected unit with simple buttons that connects the resident to onsite staff and remote call centers in case of emergency or need for assistance. HEPRO will be installing the units in seven municipalities. Release. Earlier this summer, Chubb won a contract with Places for People to install their CareUnity at 16 independent living locations across the North West, Hull and Bristol. Care Unity is a PERS/carephone-based system that integrates a wide range of safety and security peripherals. Release

Tunstall Americas’ Vi+ offers free temperature monitoring

click to enlargeLast week Tunstall Americas emerged from a long period of quiet with their introduction of Tunstall’s Vi+ telecare home unit [TTA 3 Aug]. We noted that Vi+ included an integral ambient temperature sensor which could alert their response center on extremes in home temperature and that the release highlighted it. This week, we learned the reason why, as on Tuesday they announced marketing that capability as free Temperature Extremes monitoring for subscribers of their medical alert monitoring service. When the ambient temperature sensor is activated, their call center will be alerted when the room temperature rises above 89°F or falls below 50°F. The subscriber and registered contacts are then notified so that the person can be checked and the situation corrected. Tunstall release (PRWeb)

Tunstall and Boots go High Street with retail PERS (UK)

click to enlargeBoots has entered the direct-to-consumer PERS business with Home Assist, supplied by Tunstall Healthcare. It’s a conventional (non-mobile) base unit and pendant with 24/7 response to Tunstall’s call center and a temperature sensor that will alarm at cold temperatures. The basic PERS is priced at £34.79 ($49) inclusive of VAT for the unit and a £19.99 ($28) monthly charge. Adding fall detection, the prices rise to £46.79 and £25.19. The most expensive option adds a smoke detector, reassurance calls and a bogus caller alarm for £58.79 and £31.19. Some end users may qualify for VAT-free pricing due to a qualifying disability or long-term illness, which lowers rates by £7-9. According to our former Editor and occasional contributor Mike Burton, this is a first for any High Street chemist and ups the game for all PERS and alert systems. It’s also a natural move, given that the US outpost of the Walgreens Boots Alliance has direct sold Tunstall (and earlier, AMAC) PERS units for 10 years. (Walgreens’ base monthly rate is about the same at $29.99 monthly for the same unit, but no unit cost on an annual contract.)  Home Assist website (Tunstall UK/Boots). The in-store leaflet link on the Boots website features Boots locations in London and Leeds only, along with a full application.

 

Technology for Aging in Place 2016

click to enlargeLaurie Orlov’s updated view of technologies that assist home caregiving/living, and her observations on trends for both boomers and those well over 65, is hot off the (virtual) presses and available here on her website. It is US-market oriented, but the trends explored here will be of interest internationally. The focus in this study is home-based systems for safety, alerts, activity/location tracking (telecare), home care/caregiving tools and what this Editor would call ‘health monitoring light’–med minders and logging apps versus medically-oriented telehealth (vital signs, save for AliveCor) and telemedicine (virtual visits/consults).

Highlights:

  • In communication, internet non-usage among 75+ has declined to 50 percent over the past 15 years.
  • The tablet form factor is losing ground as smartphones get bigger. Older adults and smartphones are beginning to ‘get along’ partly as they grow larger, but also that feature and simple phones are becoming less available.
  • Also losing ground is senior housing–residents are delaying entry to assisted living until they are mid 80s and frailer. Savings and debt in the boomer group is low and high, respectively.
  • Investors are caring more about home care, with large investments ($80 million) in three regional home care worker startups: Honor (San Francisco), Home Hero (Los Angeles), and Hometeam (New York/New Jersey), caregiving apps and chronic care management (CareSync, with an $18 million raise).
  • Dementia care support tools are (finally) developing into its own category.

Surprising conclusions: PERS alerting stays strong, but changes to be mobile-enabled and more cosmetic; a lot of convergence of categories and forms; and the term ‘health tech’ will replace ‘digital health’. Oh my!

How technology can help fight elder abuse–ethically

The increasing awareness of abuse of older people by their caregivers, whether at home or in care homes/assisted living/nursing homes, invites discussion of the role that technology can play. This presentation by Malcolm J. Fisk, PhD, co-director of the Age Research Centre of Coventry University, in the BSG Ageing Bites series on YouTube looks at technologies viewed by level of control and intrusiveness:

  • Social alarms, which include pull cords (nurse call) and PERS–what we think of as ‘1st generation’ telecare: high level of control, low intrusiveness–but often useless if not reachable in emergency
  • Activity monitoring, which can be room sensor-based or wearable (the 2nd generation): less control, slightly more intrusive–also dependent on monitoring and subject to false positives/negatives
  • Audio and video monitoring, while achieving greater security, are largely uncontrolled by the older person and highly intrusive to the point of unacceptability. (In fact, some feedback on tablet-based telehealth devices indicates that a built-in camera, even if not activated, can be regarded with suspicion and trigger unwanted reactions.)

The issues of consent, and balancing the value of autonomy and privacy versus factors such as cognitive impairment, personal safety and, this Editor would add, detecting attacks by strangers and not caregivers, are explored here. How do we ethically observe yet respect individual privacy? This leads to a set of seven principles Dr Fisk has published on guiding the use of surveillance technologies within care homes in the latest issue of Emerald|Insight (unfortunately abstract access only) Video 11:03Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk via Twitter.

Another Tunstall Americas distributor acquisition

click to enlargeAnother press release from Tunstall Healthcare Group is also about Tunstall Americas, in this case the acquisition of Syracuse NY (Central NY State)-based Health Care Monitoring Systems (HMS). This continues this year’s strategy of purchasing or partnering with local home care providers. Like Mountain Home and Kupuna Monitoring (previously in TTA), HMS’ website prominently features a competitor–Philips Lifeline. Notable in the spare release is that the HMS founder notes “strong relationships with referral partners and government agencies.”  Release

Tunstall Americas allies with Apria Healthcare (US)

click to enlargeTunstall Americas continues its home care provider-centric strategy through an expanded product marketing relationship with Apria Healthcare. Apria, in addition to home care services, markets directly to customers a range of medical devices and durable medical equipment; they will be selling Tunstall’s brands under their medical alert category. This is the first we’ve seen in the US the Tunstall Vi and iVi pendant, along with the CEL cellular PERS unit. Tunstall will also be providing Apria with custom branded products, along with call center, ordering and fulfillment services.  Apria is the US’ fourth largest home care provider (2014 Home Care Market Outlook) with 1.6 percent of a highly fractionated market. Our sources tell us that the initial relationship precedes the Tunstall acquisition of AMAC.  PR Web

Home telehealth now focused on the ‘superusers’ of healthcare

A noticeable trend in telehealth has to do with focusing less on the generic virtues of at-home vital signs monitoring for routine patient care and more on managing specific high-cost populations to avoid or reduce costs. Some of the impetus in the US has come from new regulations by CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) intended to move Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) patients into a reimbursed chronic care management (CCM) model. Banner Health is Arizona’s largest private employer (which does say something about Arizona as a retirement haven) and since 2006 has been experimenting with remote monitoring since 2006. Starting in 2013 Banner piloted Philips‘ post-discharge program now called ‘Hospital to Home’ as Banner iCare, combined with Philips Lifeline PERS, but made it available to those only with a stunning five+ chronic conditions–the top 5 percent that is reputed to account for 50 percent of healthcare spend. Banner combined the tech with intense support by a multi-layered care team. At ATA they announced the following results with the initial cohort of 135 patients, now up to 500:

  • 27% reduction in cost of care
  • 32% reduction in acute and long term care costs
  • 45% reduction in hospitalizations

The article in Forbes is a bit breathless in profiling the program and the ‘superusers’ of healthcare (with a windy but false analogy from John Sculley) but provides a level of detail in the program that most articles do not. One wonders how Philips makes money on supplying what is at least $2,500 worth of kit, with peripherals that must all be Bluetooth LE. It’s also not stated, but the TeleICU and TeleAcute programs also appear to be Philips’. Video

A telecare device that may solve the ‘soft fall’ and unconscious problems (UK)

click to enlargeGuy Dewsbury of the eponymous Gdewsbury independent research consultancy brought to this Editor’s attention his recent commission for West Yorkshire-based MonitorGo in evaluating their new smartphone-based personal alarm. He analyzed the device’s features here in a comparison chart and writeup, versus what is commonly available in the market. If it reliably does what it says it does (our normal caveat), it could be a big step beyond the Ur-Pendant, addressing our (and Neil Versel’s) concerns earlier this week on the persistence of ‘ancient history’ PERS [TTA 31 Mar].

It goes well beyond common mPERS as well. There are 12 features, including GPS location, hard fall detection and 24/7 third-party help line monitoring (via Medvivo), but the key differentiating features are the soft fall detector, unconsciousness/inactivity detection and false alert detection/response–as well as usability as a simplified smartphone with unlimited calls to UK landlines and 250 mobile-to-mobile minutes. (more…)

The traditional PERS as ‘ancient history’

click to enlargeSomething 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’.