Tender Alert: Scotland Excel, Leeds, London/Manchester, Thurrock

Our Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman of BRE, has a new batch for your telehealth business consideration. (Thank you, Susanne!)

  • Scotland Excel: A Prior Information Notice (PIN) for suppliers of “digital dispersed alarm units that communicate information digitally between alarm unit and alarm centre”. They are invited to note interest to Scotland Excel and to demonstrate what digital equipment they can currently offer, including any relevant peripherals, such as alarm triggers. The estimated date for the contract notice is February 2018. More information on Public Contracts Scotland.
  • Leeds City Council: A £400k contract for telecare equipment is on offer for North East, Yorkshire and The Humber. This includes alarm units, fall detection, pendants, multiple sensors, and more. It is a 12 month framework with approval obtained to re-procure for the following two subsequent years, expiring 31st March 2020. Submit by 17 July. More information on Gov.UK.
  • General Medical Council, North West (Manchester) and London: An unusual tender for research comparing UK health regulators to counterparts in overseas countries (i.e. Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand or European member states). This covers the regulation of doctors, other healthcare providers (e.g. pharmacists) and healthcare services. Submit by 17 July. More information on Gov.UK.
  • Thurrock Council: This is for community alarm telecare monitoring and administration platforms, with all associated hardware required. Value stated is £100k – £500k, and contract ends 31 July 2021. Submit by 17 July. More information on Gov.UK.

GreatCall’s acquisition: a big vote for older adult-centered healthcare tech

This midweek’s Big News has been the acquisition of the mobile phone/PERS company GreatCall by Chicago private equity firm GTCR. Cost of the acquisition is not disclosed. GTCR stated that they expect to make capital investments to GreatCall to fund future acquisitions and internal growth. GreatCall has over 800,000 subscribers in the US, generates about $250 million in profitable revenue annually, and employs about 1,000 people mainly in the San Diego area and Nevada. According to press sources, senior management led by CEO David Inns will remain in place and run the company independently. 

Our US Readers know of GreatCall’s long-standing (since 2006), bullseye-targeted appeal to older adults who desire a simple mobile flip phone, the Jitterbug, but has moved along with the age group to a simple smartphone with built-in health and safety apps. Along the way, GreatCall also developed and integrated the 5Star mPERS services on those phones, served by their own 24/7 emergency call center and developed an mPERS with fall detection. Their own acquisitions included the remnants of the Lively telecare home monitoring system in 2015 [TTA 5 Dec 15], adding the Lively Wearable mPERS/fitness tracker to their line; and senior community telecare service Healthsense last December. The original Lively home system and safety watch are sold in the UK (website) but apparently not the Jitterbug. In the UK and EU, the Jitterbug line would be competitive with established providers such as Doro.

What’s different here? GTCR is not a flashy, Silicon Valley PE investing in hot, young startups or a traditional senior health investor like Ziegler. Its portfolio is diversified into distinctly non-cocktail-chatter companies in financial services and technology; technology, media and telecommunications (including an outdoor ad company!); and growth businesses. It has real money, investing over $12 billion in 200 companies since 1980, and strategically prefers leadership companies. Their healthcare businesses have primarily been in life sciences, specialty pharma, dermatology, specialty services such as healthcare in correctional institutions, and device sterilization. Recent acquisitions have been San Diego-based XIFIN, a provider of cloud-based software to diagnostic service providers, RevSpring in billing and communications, and data analytics firm Cedar Gate Technologies. It also has partnered with newly formed medical device companies.

GreatCall crosses over into GTCR’s telecommunications sweet spot, but the older adult market and direct-to-consumer sell are different for them. Because it is unique in their portfolio, this Editor believes that GTCR sees ‘gold’ in the ‘silver’ market. Larry Fey, one of their managing directors, cited its growth and also GreatCall’s recent moves into senior communities with their products. GTCR also has expertise in the security alarm monitoring sector, which along with pharma clinical trials can bolster better utilization and broaden the utilization of GreatCall’s call centers.

However, this Editor would caution that the US senior community market has been having difficult times of late with overbuilding, declining occupancy, resident/labor turnover, and rising expenses–as well as recent coverage of security lapses and resident abuse. Telecare systems like Healthsense are major capital expenses, but the flip side is that communities can use technology to improve care, resident safety, and to differentiate themselves. To make the most of their Healthsense acquisition, GreatCall needs to bring innovation to the V1.0 monitoring/safety/care model that Healthsense is in its current state, and make the case for that innovation in cost/financials, usability and reliability. San Diego Union-Tribune, Mobihealthnews

Tender alert: London Hillingdon 24/7 telecare monitoring (due 5 May!)

Our Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman, has located a just-published telecare tender for the London Borough of Hillingdon UB8 1UW.

Description: The London Borough of Hillingdon (the Council) is inviting tenders from suitably experienced organisations capable of providing a Telecare emergency alarm system and 24- hour telephone support for the Council (the Services).

The specification is split across two service requirements;
A. Social Alarm and telecare 24/7 monitoring services;
B. Provision of an out of hours emergency answering service.

The London Borough of Hillingdon (the Council) currently operates 21 sheltered housing developments across the borough, consisting of 838 units. All sheltered housing accommodation is connected to the current Telecare call handling system provided by Jontek.

The current system is monitored by Council staff 24/7; this would switch 24/7 monitoring to an outside sole contractor. It is a three-year contract starting 1 September and ending 31 August 2020, with an extension of one year. The estimated value is £1.5m.

Application deadline is 5 May. More information is on the Gov.UK Contracts Finder page.

Here’s Howz: now electricity consumption as elder minder (UK)

click to enlargeIntelesant’s latest project, Howz, has added electricity consumption to the monitoring set of Activities of Daily Living. The Howz set of multiple sensors generally monitors activity in the home, home temperature, lights on/off, and exterior door opening/closing, depending on their placement, but one sensor monitors electricity consumption by directly going into the meter to determine whether appliances are being used as an indicator of activity. These activities are reported over a smartphone app to those who have permission for reports. After a trending baseline over a few days is established via algorithms, the Howz system tracks departures from that norm and alerts via the smartphone app. This bears resemblances to this Editor’s former company which developed the behavioral telecare (first and still in market) QuietCare system, but the ‘meter reader’ is a new and smart twist.

Intelesant is testing Howz in 100 Manchester homes and is scheduled to be in a pilot with dementia patients at home in partnership with the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. In December, they also announced that they are a finalist with the EDF Energy Blue Lab Acceleration Programme.

Howz is more comprehensive (and expensive) than 3rings‘ single appliance plug which keys into specific activities (tea kettle, TV on) [TTA articles here] but the objective for family peace of mind for older adults, especially those living alone, is the same. Available consumer direct from their website in the UK only (unfortunately) from £199 for the starter kit. New Scientist, Howz video on YouTube Hat tip to former Northern Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

Tender/RFI up: two more from EU-Supply (UK, IRL)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who is our Eye on Tenders, has located two new tenders available on the EU-Supply site:

(NHSSBS)Telemedicine Advice and Guidance Service Deadline is 8 March 2017. Documents are attached and available after registration and log in. Contact Greg Reide, phone: +44-161-2123701

(CTM) Pobal on behalf of the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government invites responses from organisations for the purpose of market research. This is a Request for Information and not a tender process. This is a market sounding exercise to obtain market information in respect of Telecare Equipment in relation to the Seniors Alert Scheme. Please refer to the Request for Information document which is available via this notice. Submissions should be sent to procurement@pobal.ie on or before 3.00pm, on Thursday the 2nd March 2017. Registration and log in required for further information.

Two tenders up in Scotland and Wales (UK)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who keeps an eye on telecare procurement tenders, has alerted our UK readers to two current postings:

Telecare IT Platform for East Lothian Council (Scotland).  This is for the purchase an integrated call handling facility and telecare asset management system to respond to alerts from telecare equipment in the homes of vulnerable people. Contract duration 60 months. Deadline 1 March. (Public Contracts Scotland)

NHS Wales Informatics Service–Velindre NHS Trust. The NHS in Cardiff, Wales is looking to appoint partners to develop solutions to engage citizens digitally in the proactive management of their health. It is anticipated that this could encompass a wide range of services from existing applications (Apps) to innovative joint developments. Contract notice will be published 4 April, but the notice as published does not have a deadline. (Tenders Electronic Daily)  See the Sell2Wales website for documentation.

What are the impacts of NHS CCGs forcing disabled and LTC patients into care homes? (UK)

click to enlargeCare for elderly and disabled goes off the tracks again. A report in the Health Service Journal (subscription required), covered in an opinion piece in the Guardian, indicates that thousands of patients who are disabled and also those who require long-term care may be forcibly put into care homes (US=nursing homes) rather than being treated and maintained in home care. According to the HSJ, “Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from campaign group Disability United found that 37 NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England were introducing rules about ongoing care that could force up to 13,000 people with health conditions into care homes.” CCGs due to NHS cuts have been setting limits on financing home care, between 10 and 40 percent above the care home option. In other words, where a care home is cheaper, the CCG will withdraw payment for home care, and unless the individual can self-pay or has an advocate who can organize a care plan, that person may be involuntarily moved.

The word ‘institutionalization’ deservedly strikes fear on both sides of the Atlantic as a recipe for patient decline, physical and verbal abuse, theft and generally bad care. It’s a blunderbuss solution to ‘bed-blocking’ which we discussed here [TTA 7 Sep 16]–the care plan becomes ‘move ’em out’. By going this way in policy, NHS England is going counter-trend, against more personalized care delivered in home settings, and setting an unfortunate trend for other countries like the US.

Outside the scope of the article, but in this Editor’s thoughts, is the knock-on effect it will have on the UK’s developers and providers of telehealth and telecare services/TECS designed to support home care. Many of these technologies are in a transition period to the greater capabilities (and freedom from land line) of digital from analogue care, which was discussed in TTA here. Cutting domestic demand may not only be critical not only to companies’ survival, but also to their expansion in the (now far more open to the UK) US market. Readers’ thoughts?

Welbeing’s expansion on BBC Norfolk, Tunstall’s #MarysVIPHome Christmas (UK)

We start the New Year off we hope in the right way with some good news on telecare expansion and media coverage, traditional and social, versus the gloominess that dominated 2016.

Welbeing, which has become one of the larger telecare providers in the UK from its Eastbourne and Wealden Council roots, was the subject of a feature on Nick Conrad’s breakfast show on BBC Radio Norfolk. This focused on their East Anglia expansion to 4,500 new customers acquired from Flagship Home, with phone-ins by an operator from their new call center in Dereham, a local Welbeing customer and a representative from Norfolk County Council. Welbeing has been on a recent tear with acquisitions in East Sussex, Cumbria, Stonewater and with Muir Housing, cresting their total users to more than 70,000. Of late there’s been a lot of downbeat feelings about the fate of telecare in the UK, so it’s refreshing to hear an upbeat local story for a change. News release. Hat tip to Charlene Saunders, marketing manager of Welbeing. 

Tunstall in UK has also developed a smart home type test bed in a sheltered housing flat to showcase how existing TECS kit, Tunstall’s and others, can be combined in everyday living. Smart home demos to interested parties may be old news, but Tunstall is cleverly using social media marketing to build it up. It’s hashtagged #MarysVIPHome with updates on Twitter. There are also has five demo videos on YouTube which show how a family can observe activity/ADLs without intrusion, plus connect the resident to care, improve their socialization and remotely control the home environment. This Editor saw it on a LinkedIn post before the holidays from Tunstall’s Adrian Scaife thanking their visitors and wishing us a Mary Christmas. Now we hope to see more of a narrative about a real Mary living there and using all that TECS. It’s a nice start to what we hope is an innovative 2017.

GreatCall enlarges remote monitoring profile with Healthsense acquisition (US) (Updated)

Updated. GreatCall, the older adult-targeted mobile phone/PERS company, on 20 December announced the acquisition of telecare/RPM developer Healthsense. Terms were not disclosed. Healthsense was one of the earliest developers (close after Living Independently Group’s, now Intel Care Innovations’, QuietCare) of a sensor-based residential system, eNeighbor, to monitor ADLs for activity and safety. It has been primarily marketed to senior living communities after an early start in home sales, and currently monitors 20,000 lives according to the press release. Healthsense acquired a similar system, WellAWARE, in 2013.

GreatCall is best known for its older adult-targeted mobile phone line, but in recent years they have expanded into mPERS services on phone and devices, including an emergency call center. The San Diego-based company acquired the remnants of the Lively in-home monitoring system a year ago and incorporated its watch-wearables into its medical alert product line.

This Editor speculates that one direction GreatCall may take is to expand into the senior community monitoring and home care business beyond mPERS. To date, GreatCall has been a highly successful, direct-to-consumer driven company which has popularized not only products to make technology simpler and more usable for older adults, but also led in a non-condescending approach to them. If the company decides to enter senior housing and home care, it presents a different and new marketing challenge, as both have been to date late technology adopters. Another concern is the cost/financial model, usability and reliability of Healthsense’s remote monitoring system.

The other direction is more conventional–GreatCall could incorporate the Healthsense technology and ADL algorithms into home monitoring, with a design resembling Lively’s original self-installed, attractively designed in-home telecare system.

Minnesota-based Healthsense in 15 years of operation raised what some would term a paltry $46 million of equity and debt financing in ten rounds (Crunchbase). Over this time, Healthsense’s investors were a small group, including New York-based Radius Ventures, Mansa Capital, West Health and Fallon Community Health Plan. After the $10 million venture round in 2014, the last investment was a small $2.6 million in February. Early investor Ziegler HealthVest Management, which purchased a significant interest in 2007, is not listed in Crunchbase’s roster, though one of their senior financial managers is on their board. This Editor senses (sic) that the investors were seeking to exit after a long time in.

The release has a summary of an earlier Healthsense study of interest to marketers of telehealth and telecare as a reference:

An independent 12-month study with Fallon Health (an investor–Ed.) found that using Healthsense remote monitoring in connection with Fallon’s model of care for seniors reduced total medical expenses by $687 per member per month — a nearly 16 percent reduction for pilot members as compared to a control group. The Fallon population using Healthsense demonstrated a 32.2 percent reduction in fees for inpatient hospital visits, a 39.4 percent reduction in emergency department costs and a 67.7 percent reduction in expenses for long term care vs. the control during the year-long study.

More in Mobihealthnews, MedCityNews, Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal

(Updated with further information on early investor Ziegler and the senior housing market; hat tip to reader Andrea Swayne)

Europe: how to keep elderly in their own homes longer

A new project to produce smart technical solutions to increase possibilities for the elderly to live at home click to enlargewithout being dependent on children or in-home care has been launched in Europe. The collaborative project named FRONT-VL is led by the Swedish mobile phone operator TeliaSonera and has 21 contributing organisations working within the industry-driven European research initiative “Celtic Plus”.

The project is based on the premise that by enabling elderly people to live at home for as long as possible a good quality of life can be maintained while at the same time reducing care costs. The project proposes to develop predictive health related end-user services in fall prevention, mental health, rehabilitation and palliative care using machine learning and “big data” analysis together with IoT based data acquisition.

FRONT-VL has a budget of 7.2 million Euros and is due to run for 3 years beginning next month. The funding caters for just over 55 person-years of effort over the three year period.

The key innovations of the project will be in two areas. First will be to create a common service delivery framework able to provide Information Computing and Telecommunications based home care and health services to end-users and care professionals. Second is automated data collection to enable peer-to-peer learning and knowledge transfer.

The Celtic Plus initiative defines, performs and finances research projects in telecommunications, new media, future internet and applications and services. It is part of the wider Eureka Network that facilitates R&D projects across Europe.

Optum’s Utopia of proactive patient care–without telehealth

click to enlargeAnd we wonder why telehealth patient monitoring is floundering and telemedicine is only starting to take off? In this Editor’s reading today, up came this rather glossy, beautifully designed advertorial web page in The Atlantic sponsored by healthcare services provider/holding company Optum. It describes a proactive, highly supportive care process that starts with the diagnosis of a chronic condition (in this case developing CHF) through a ‘health scare’ handled at an urgent care versus a hospital ED, then to care at home (from a highly engaged nurse-practitioner no less) and a patient who, suitably engaged, is “responsibly managing her condition through a wellness approach” and has an improved lifestyle.

Other than an EMR (integrated between provider and urgent care–but EHR is the more current term), no other technology other than telephonic is mentioned in this rosy picture. Where’s the telehealth app that touches our patient, letting her chart her weight, breathing and general wellness, sending it to her EHR and alerting that nurse so she can truly be proactive in seeing changes in her patient’s health? Where’s the telemedicine virtual visit capability, especially if our patient’s out of breath outside of normal office hours, or there’s a blizzard and that nurse can’t visit? Here’s all the infrastructure built up for integrated care, but where’s the technology assistance and savings on home health visits and transportation for the patient?

It can’t be that Optum doesn’t know about what telehealth/telemedicine can do and the role it already plays in care? It can’t be that it doesn’t fit in the integrated care infrastructure? Or does it have to do with reimbursement? (Optum is the parent of giant insurer United HealthcareReaders’ thoughts?

NYeC Digital Health Conference (NYC)–next week

NYeC Digital Health Conference, 6-7 December 2016 | New World Stages, New York, NY
The New York eHealth Collaborative’s Digital Health Conference brings together 500 senior-level healthcare industry leaders to learn about new innovations and to foster dynamic conversation addressing how healthcare is being redefined through technology. It is well on track to fill completely, so if you’ve been delaying your booking, now is the time. And our readers enjoy a 10 percent discount.

Updated and expanded agenda here.

Keynote speakers:
• Robert Wachter, MD, Professor and Interim Chairman of the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, author of “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age” [TTA 16 Apr 15]. (To this Editor, this is a must-see keynote!)
• Steven Johnson, PBS Host and Bestselling Author, “How We Got To Now” and “Where Good Ideas Come From”

Some other speakers: Carol Raphael, the former CEO of Visiting Nurse Service of NY; Kristopher Smith of Northwell Health; James Mault of Qualcomm Life and Aron Gupta of Quartet Health. This year a who’s who of New York’s healthcare and health tech community will gather for two days of networking, lively intellectual exchange, and exploration to see what’s new, what’s cutting edge and what will shape the future of healthcare.

It’s worth taking the trip to NYC for this right before the holidays! For more information, click here for the website.

Telehealth & Telecare Aware Readers receive a 10% registration discount. Click on this link or the sidebar advert. Important–use code TTA when registering. For updates, @NYeHealth. TTA is a conference partner/media partner of the NYeC DHC.

Tender Alert: Circle Anglia–Centra seeking e-commerce provider

Our Reader Susanne Woodman has once again tipped our UK Readers to another opportunity related to telecare, this one with Circle Anglia and Centra which provide telecare and housing services in the UK. Centra is looking for an e-commerce system. The value of the tender excluding VAT is £120,000. According to the tender, Circle Housing would like to conduct soft market testing w/c 5 December at its Tower View Offices with the contract to be published in January 2017. More information is here on the TED-Tenders Electronic Daily website. Email Michelle Saunders for a further information document at michelle.saunders2@circle.org.uk

Carephone calling for beta tester partners

From reader Stephen Westley, the sales director of The Carephone, well-known in the UK as one of the long-time telecare companies supporting carers via technology that enables older adults and the disabled to live more independently, is a call for beta tester partners (UK and Ireland only) of the new home sensor kit (see photo below, click to enlarge) Smart Sense.

click to enlarge

Stephen may be reached at 0800 849 9254, email swestley@thecarephone.com  More on Twitter @thecarephone

 

The cybersecurity black hole–and bad flashback–that is the Internet of Things

click to enlargeOne week after the Dyn DDoS attack, the post-mortems get more alarming. Our Readers knew they were coming in 2014-2015 (our ‘Is IoT really necessary–and dangerous?)

IoT devices, and a lot of older networked medical devices, have been proven to be easy to hack, as even this non-ITer, non-codegeek realized then. But those in tech have been to this movie before–with Bluetooth circa 2002! Now shouldn’t designers have learned? From ZDNet:

“It’s almost like we’ve learned nothing from Bluetooth” says Justin Dolly, CISO at cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes.

“Seeing what these IoT vendors are doing, it just blows me away because they haven’t learned from history,” says Steve Manzuik, director of security research at Duo Security’s Duo Labs. “They’ve completely ignored everything that’s ever had bad vulnerabilities”.

Many of these devices, according to these experts, have default log in credentials, if they have them at all. IoT devices are also allegedly findable on a snoop site called Shodan. Reason why: the financial and market need to get products out fast and cheaply.

Over at data security company Varonis’ blog, with the great title in part, “Revenge of the Internet of Things”, another succinct and telling quote:

Once upon a time in early 2016, we were talking with pen tester Ken Munro about the security of IoT gadgetry — everything from wireless doorbells to coffee makers and other household appliances. I remember his answer when I asked about basic security in these devices. His reply: “You’re making a big step there, which is assuming that the manufacturer gave any thought to an attack from a hacker at all.”

Privacy by Design is not part of the vocabulary of the makers of these IoT gadgets

Varonis also gives a how-to on changing settings in your router so you don’t become a victim, and how to secure your gadgets.

Bottom line: when Hackermania is Running Wild, do you, or anyone, really need to be an early adopter of an internet- connected coffee maker or fridge? And if you need internet-connected home security, telemedicine virtual consults, telehealth/remote patient monitoring or telecare….best heed Varonis and secure it!

Earlier in TTA: Friday’s cyberattack is a shot-over-bow for healthcare 

Breaking news – an NHS innovation failure

As a sad indication of the NHS’s – and the UK health & care system in general’s – inability to innovate, v-connect, previously known as Red Embedded, has made the following announcement:

“It is with great regret that we are discontinuing the v-connect service as of the 31st October 2016. I am sure that the reasons will be understandable to you but here is a short summary. The video technology has been in development for more than eleven years. The efforts to commercialise the technology, in care, have been in progress for more than seven. In that time we have developed many features that support people to live independently at home supported by a personalised set of connections and facilities matched to their needs. We were guided by the continual calls for integrated care, personalisation and care closer to  home. We have been somewhat successful in obtaining project and grant funding to facilitate this. (more…)