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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.
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.
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 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
Boots 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.
- 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!
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 11:03. Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk via Twitter.
Tunstall 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
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
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…)
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’.