An ‘insider’ point of view on the Connect America acquisition of Philips Lifeline

This Editor, through a search initiated due to reader Adrian Scaife’s comment on the article below, happened on a back article from a news source on the Connect America acquisition of Philips Lifeline. Who knew (as they say) that there was a newsletter solely devoted to the PERS business? The article was written from a real insider point of view with a complete background on Connect America, Lifeline, and also why Philips put Lifeline up for sale.

  • It’s likely that Philips bought high and sold low. In 2006, Philips purchased Lifeline for a reported $750 million, then HealthWatch for an additional $130 million. At the time of the announcement, PE Hub put the value of the company in the $200-400 million range. It’s understandable that with the rise of smartphones and mobile, wrist-worn band-type PERS, the value of what is largely a traditional PERS company would suffer, but the best case is a 60 percent loss over 14 years.
  • The industry believes that Philips mismanaged the company. Example: dealers did not have 4G/LTE cellular equipment to replace the 3G in the field. The phrases ‘a mess’ for the organization and ‘run the Lifeline name into the ground’ aren’t used lightly.
  • For the past few years, Lifeline has been in the shadow of Philips’ other clinically-oriented healthcare systems. As this Editor noted, Philips has divested or spun off multiple businesses in North America.
  • Philips ran the business without understanding its unique dynamics, including dealer networks and a B2B +B2C market of home health agencies and senior housing combined with direct-to-consumer sales. They focused on the latter and kept it on short rations for the past few years.
  • They were also slow to market with innovations and had a significant amount of negative publicity on the performance of AutoAlert for fall detection starting in 2011 (Editor Steve) and in 2014.

The Philips Lifeline saga was a longer and more costly version of Tunstall’s acquisition of AMAC. At the time of sale, Lifeline was #1 in PERS, and AMAC was #3. Even with Tunstall’s expertise and the addition of remote patient monitoring, the US market was Too Tough For Tunstall. They sold in 2019 to…drum roll…Connect America.

The article includes excerpts from an interview with CEO Janet Dillione, a review of the Connect America team, and well wishes from those insiders. PERS Insider (Subscription to the weekly newsletter is free and found here.)

Another irony: Just prior to the acquisition, Dennis Shapiro, the former head of Lifeline, passed away on 16 February, aged 87. Mr. Shapiro was responsible for the company creating the first modern PERS radio pendant, telephone-connected base unit, and call center monitored service in 1980.

 

Tunstall under fire in Swedish court on appeal of Adda procurement exclusion

Tunstall appeals Swedish procurement exclusion. Tunstall has gone to a Swedish administrative court to fight the exclusion by Adda Inköpscentral from the Swedish framework agreements for the municipal procurement of telehealth and security alarms,  In April, Adda, the strategic supply consultant and agreement manager, announced that Tunstall would be excluded from two 2018-2019 framework procurement agreements as well as the new four-year framework agreement on performance issues, including a major problem with alarm responses last October [TTA 22 May]. 

What is being debated in court in the action between Tunstall and Adda is the following, according to SVT Nyheter (disclosure: translated from Swedish to English via Google Translate):

  • Certain municipalities received compensation from Tunstall, which the company has refused to disclose nor what the agreements look like, other than they were based on a template. Municipalities also refused to send Adda copies of the agreements, citing confidentiality. In Sweden, municipalities can negotiate agreements on their own with suppliers, but if they choose to work under the framework agreement, the municipalities create their own detailed contracts using the framework as a basis. Adda apparently received copies of agreements that included ‘silence’ (presumably non-disclosure or confidentiality) clauses. According to Adda, this violates both the framework agreement and ‘publicity legislation’.
  • According to SVT quoting Adda’s filing, “Tunstall “consistently deliberately withheld information from Adda, probably in order to avoid exclusion in the Procurement” and now “deliberately tries to mislead not only Adda, but also the administrative court.” This also refers to data files that contained information about when alarms stopped working in over 100 municipalities in October 2020 due to, apparently, a bad software update. The translation in the article subhead refers to “lying and misleading the court”.
  • Municipalities had delays in implementation going back to 2018. Ystad demanded a fine of half a million for its delays, where it turne out that response times had been calculated in different ways, After Tunstall promised improvement, Ystad dropped the demand. Götene signed an agreement on security alarms for nursing homes in spring 2020 but only a limited number were operative by December well into this year. This municipality remains unhappy according to SVT, contradicting Tunstall’s official statement to the publication, which closes the SVT main article.

There is no indication in the article when a decision will be made by the administrative court.

There is a second SVT article on the disagreement on the handling of an alarm call in Lidingö. The Tunstall call center did not call for an ambulance, the city was delayed for two hours, and the person died. Neither Tunstall nor Adda were interviewed for the 24 June SVT articles. Hat tip to two of our Readers who wish to remain anonymous. One also referred, with a certain gimlety turn, to two 2018 interviews with CEO Gordon Sutherland on the subject of building trust both as an organization and with their customers. PwC (January 2018) and The Trusted Executive (June 2018).

News and deal roundup: OneMedical’s $2.1 bn for Iora, CareDx buys Transplant Hero, Mount Sinai’s Elementa Labs; UK news–NHSX/Babylon, Doro-Everon, Tunstall

West Coast-based concierge medical provider One Medical goes ‘mass’ with Iora. One Medical, best known for serving the affluent well through a membership fee, direct pay, commercial insurance, and sponsored contracts with large employers like Google for primary care, announced plans to acquire Boston-based Iora Health. Iora’s primary care providers serve a different market, with primarily Medicare patients moved into full-risk value-based models such as Medicare Advantage plans and practices in shared savings arrangements such as Direct Contracting. The investor presentation here discloses the all-stock purchase with 26 percent of ownership going to current Iora shareholders. Iora for now will be run separately, which makes sense given the disparity in patient base. The major element in common? Primary care practices and ‘white-glove’ services. Healthcare Dive, FierceHealthcare

Consolidation in digital transplant care assistance. CareDx, which provides a wide variety of management services for organ transplant providers and recipients, is acquiring New York-based Transplant Hero. Transplant Hero is an app that reminds recipients to take their vital medications, and was founded by a transplant physician. Financial terms and integration going forward were not disclosed. Release, Mobihealthnews.

Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP) creates a new health tech incubator. Elementa Labs launched this week, specifically seeking pre-seed or seed-stage healthcare and biotech startups. Companies must also have a clear objective for working with Mount Sinai to develop a comprehensive development plan.The first startup on board is avoMD, a mobile-friendly point of care clinical decision support platform. Applications for the 12-week program close 30 September. FierceHealthcare

UK activity heats up with the late spring…

NHSX and NHS England are assessing Babylon Health’s triage app. According to an exclusive in Pulse (may require registration), a senior delegation from both visited University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) last month to look at its use of the Babylon technology. However, NHSX has disclaimed any work towards a national program with Babylon as practices reopen throughout the UK.

DoroCare UK and Everon announced a partnership on products and services for social care, such as Everon’s Lyra, a cloud-based emergency call system, and Doro’s Eliza, a smartcare hub. Release

Tunstall announced the release of the Tunstall Service Platform (TSP) in the UK. It’s described as a connected care software platform supporting the Tunstall Alarm Receiving Centres coordinated by local authorities and social housing providers. It has four unique functions: PNC (call handling), service manager, fieldforce manager, and proactive services. It also will transition these systems from analogue to digital and will be operable in both. Release

UK news roundup: West Wales’ CONNECT project, WelcoMe app for disabled access, X-on Surgery Connect expands, Arc Health in 46 care homes, Alcove’s £75M contract with Suffolk County Council

The CONNECT project, which launched in West Wales at the very beginning of the pandemic last March, is a community support project using both technology enabled care (TEC) and human support. Covering individuals who are older, need home care support, and live at home, it is run by Carmarthenshire County Council’s (CCC) Delta Wellbeing team and covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. To date, they have assessed 1,800 people, supported 8,500 individuals isolated during lockdown with necessities like food, made 18,500 proactive wellbeing calls in the first three months, responded to 1,646 call outs with fewer than 100 requiring emergency services, and responded to over 500 falls with 97 percent within 60 minutes. The CCC is using Tunstall kit for alarms, fall detection, GPS tracking, and 24/7 community response service. Delta Wellbeing is a Local Authority Trading Company, completely owned by CCC, and is the largest digital monitoring platform in Wales. Wales Herald

WelcoMe is an free app that enables businesses to better support the needs of their disabled customers or patients. It’s designed for use on mobile or desktop so that a person can create a simple profile that outlines personal key requirements and information about what support they need during their visit. Those requirements are communicated to the business or practice staff so that they can be ready on arrival. It makes for an easier visit all around and eliminates surprises. This Editor discovered WelcoMe through an announcement by the The London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, the first UK dental practice to adopt the app for their practice. There is a small fee for businesses–£30/mo plus a £49 onboarding fee. The app was developed by Neatebox Limited. Release (PDF). Hat tip to Suzy Ellis of Ellis & Boyd PR

X-on Surgery Connect, a provider of cloud telephony for primary care surgeries, has added another 116 practices in Greater Manchester (Stockport’s 36 practices) and London (80 practices within North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group). The Surgery Connect system provides telephone triaging, call center support, remote working support, telehealth remote consultation and video support. The deployment covers approximately one million patients, out of a total of 8.5 million patients in 835 practices in England and Wales. Unfortunately the release was supplied only via email and not online/PDF.  

Arc Health remote diagnostic platform has been installed  in 46 care homes in South East London. Arc’s video clinical exam and diagnostic technology connects the care homes to primary care surgeries via guided or patient self-use of Arc’s exam tools. The Arc kit used in the care home includes a stethoscope, blood pressure, pulse, and a camera wand to perform ear and throat exams and connects to a video platform that captures the information. Arc Health is part of the National Innovation Collaborative funded by NHSX. The care homes are part of South East London CCG, and the Lambeth Together and One Bromley borough health and care partnerships. Release on HealthTechDigital.

Alcove has inked a contract with Suffolk County Council (SCC) valued at £75 million over three years. Renewal is possible for another four years on an annual basis. According to UK Authority, Alcove will be developing a “new operating model for leveraging care technologies and data in the adult social care sector, with the potential to take this into wider health and care.” The procurement contract will be available for other authorities, fire and rescue, ambulance, probation, and community services in the east of England. SCC has been using Alcove technologies, including their Carephone service, to keep isolated older people connected with services during the pandemic. 

Tunstall excluded from Sweden’s framework agreements for municipal alarm and technology procurement

Health tech in the Nordics rarely makes the news, except for Kry and Nokia. Tunstall has made news, but of the troublesome sort. Adda Inköpscentral, the strategic supply consultant which manages the Swedish framework agreement for procurement of telehealth alarms, is excluding Tunstall as a supplier in two ongoing procurements for security alarms and security-creating technology. The framework agreements are Security Alarms and Alarm Reception 2019 and a corresponding agreement, Security-creating Technology 2018. Adda has reached out to competitive companies for future contracts under these two agreements, which are winding up.

Worse, Adda is excluding Tunstall as a supplier for the new security alarms four-year framework agreement. The decisions are based on their investigation, concluding that Tunstall “violated the previous framework agreement in several respects”. “Our decision to exclude Tunstall from future framework agreements is based on our assessment that the company cannot live up to our high demands as a framework agreement supplier.” (Google translation)  Adda’s notice on Tunstall exclusion

The reasons why date back to October and multiple incidents in alarm responses. Adda’s investigation, which wrapped in late April, cited failures such as long response times in alarm response. SVT Nyheter used more dramatic language. “Thousands of old and sick were affected when the alarms stopped working in over a hundred municipalities. In Luleå, a woman who sounded the alarm died in vain (sic) several times.” Apparently, a software update went bad, disabling the alarms, but SVT‘s reporting has covered other incidents.

According to SVT, Adda currently manages procurement agreements for 200 municipalities. In Sweden, municipalities are free to negotiate their own contracts. If they choose to work under the framework, the municipalities create their own detailed contracts using the framework as a basis. Contracts signed under the old agreement remain in effect. 

Tunstall has commented that “they are disappointed with the message, do not agree with the criticism and are now analyzing the decision to decide whether to appeal it.” Additionally, they commented to SVT that “they had handed over an action plan and hoped to be able to sign the agreement in the near future.” Tunstall’s Swedish HQ is in Malmö and their security center in Örebro. Hat tip to an anonymous Reader 

Editor’s note: Editor Donna invites Tunstall to reach out to me for comments or updates. 

Communicare247 advances in Scotland’s Project Liberty social care with Stage 2 funding

Glasgow-based Communicare247 has won over £130,000 in funding for further development of telecare systems to be implemented in the second phase of Scotland’s Project Liberty. Project Liberty is designed to support social care for vulnerable individuals with chronic care needs, including cognitive, to live at home independently, while unobtrusively allowing health and care professionals to manage their risks and health. The support for Project Liberty comes via Scotland’s £9.2million Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund, and is expected to be completed by 3rd Quarter of this year.

The second phase of the project incorporates consumer devices such as voice-activated speakers (e.g. Alexa, left above), smartphones, and other smart wearables, sensors, and location technologies, through a novel monitoring system that can integrate with existing telecare home care alarms. It will deploy and test the system with those living independently and managing complex care needs, including Alzheimer’s.

Tom Morton, Chief Executive of Communicare247, emphasized the need to change over telecare from analogue to digital systems not only because of telecom, but also to extend care with advanced digital devices.  “A telecare system that uses Alexa and smart watches is a game changer. We are integrating common and easy to use consumer products along with IoT sensors and innovative telehealth monitoring in an existing data-led system that reports to carers, family members and emergency services as required. Currently, across the UK, there is an estimated 4 million elderly and shielding people who rely on analogue telecare systems to help keep them safe. Most of these systems are at risk of becoming obsolete due to the telephone network switch from analogue to digital. This gives the UK an unprecedented opportunity to adopt a leading digital-enabled assisted living care which will be delivered through Project Liberty.”

Starting in 2018, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the Alliance) engaged with users on improvements to their supportive telecare. The first phase of Project Liberty started in January 2019. Communicare247 led and project managed this part of Glasgow City Council’s “Technology-enabled Glasgow” challenge, joined by partners and stakeholders including the Alliance, the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, and Tunstall.

The objective for Project Liberty is to be a scalable digital telecare template system to be deployed by local authorities, housing associations, and care providers across the UK. Interestingly, and perhaps uniquely for Scotland, the smart home devices for home care will connect with Scotland’s long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN) which enables devices to collect and send data without the need for 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi. 

Additional information on Project Liberty can be found on the Alliance’s website and their webinar ‘Proof of Concept to Deployment’. There is also a 37-minute talk between Mr. Morton and Business Development Manager Ashley Mitchell on YouTube. Mr. Morton earlier contributed a TTA OnePerspective article in 2018 on telecare’s digital changeover

Further information on Tunstall’s reorganization

At the end of our 8 October article, we noted that Tunstall Group Holdings was purchased by a Jersey-based group. It is a registered private company listed as Tunstall Integrated Healthcare Holdings Limited, registered in St Helier on 31 July. Its previous name, which may be found in the Companies House reports, was Don Jersey Topco Limited. JFSC Companies Registry, OpenCorporates

Tunstall Healthcare Group Limited, which we noted had not filed a report by the 30 September deadline, now links to a new company name on Companies House, Exdon 1 Limited. The board voted for liquidation on 30 September, to be wound up by Cork Gully LLP at Snow Hill, London (PDF link). Liquidation will shift any assets or debts to other companies. The other pertinent document is a declaration of solvency (PDF link). There are several Exdons (CH link) with the Cork Gully address (not the ones in Devon) with Exdon 1-4 being liquidated. Balance sheets are included in the solvency declarations, with Exdon 3 having the most substantial list for redistribution.

Shareholder lists may be of interest to those in the industry. Barings is of course included on the shareholder votes for liquidation but so is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (!). Once again, hat tip on the reports to a Reader in the UK industry who wishes to remain anonymous.

Doro adds Spain’s Victrix SocSan to its growing brand portfolio for £1.28 million plus shares

Sweden’s Doro has a new addition to its portfolio, and it’s an interesting one. Victrix SocSan, headquartered in Madrid, coordinates health and social care primarily through data analysis blending different health and social care sources “to provide low-cost yet highly effective proactive interventions for chronic disease management, elder care, and wellbeing.” It concentrates on care workflow and information exchange, according to their website. Unlike previous Doro acquisitions such as ElderCare UK [TTA 11 Aug], Invicta Telecare, parent of Centra Pulse and Connect [TTA 19 Sept 19], and Welbeing [7 June 18], it’s about the technology and not the territory or system. “A strong technical platform and knowledge is an important component in our strategy. The Victrix Care Platform gives us new opportunities to develop and offer coordinated and proactive care services, both in individual and assisted living, ” according to Doro Group President and CEO Carl-Johan Zetterberg Boudrie. 

The acquisition cost is modest compared to some of the US blockbuster deals we’ve seen lately. Cash upfront is SEK 14.8 million (UK£1.28 million, US$1.65 million, €1.41 million). The 232,744 shares in Doro AB closed today at SEK47.50 which is about SEK11.05 million (UK£956 thousand, US$1.2 million, €1.1 million). There are other payouts noted in the press release. Their results will be consolidated into Doro’s from 30 September. According to the release, the Victrix team will be joining Doro. Their CEO and founder, Joe Killen, is a familiar figure in the UK from his nearly 20 years at Tunstall Spain and Southern Europe. Hat tip to one of our UK Readers who wishes to stay anonymous.

Tunstall Americas sold to Connect America

Connect America, a PERS and telehealth/remote patient monitoring company based in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has acquired Tunstall Americas, the US division of Tunstall Healthcare Group. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Tunstall brand name will ‘sunset’ and transition to Connect America, according to the 29 January release. Tunstall employees and offices will, at least for now, be operating from their current locations. The combined company will have 1,000 employees, more than 300,000 shared subscribers, and over 1,000 healthcare network partners. 

Connect America is a private company, founded in 1977, and is estimated to have between 250 and 500 employees (Crunchbase); both companies are roughly equal in size. Their website states that they are the largest independent provider of PERS in the US. They market traditional and mobile PERS under the brands Medical Alert, Alert 911, Alert365, AlertMax365 for Men, and Caregiver365. The RPM devices are marketed under ConnectVitals. Richard Brooks, the president of the healthcare sales division, was formerly the president of Health Watch, which was the second largest PERS company in the US at the time of its sale to Philips.

Oscar Meyer, the president of Tunstall Americas, is quoted in the 24-7 Press Release headlined on the Tunstall Americas website, but it is not stated what position he will have in the merged company.

Tunstall Healthcare Group and its main investor, Charterhouse Capital Partners, have been quietly shopping the company for some years. In early 2017, Charterhouse and other shareholders were forced to relinquish nearly half the equity in the company to senior lenders and management amid a stunning £1.7bn debt burden at the end of September 2016 [TTA 7 Aug 2017]. The overall picture has improved somewhat, but is uneven especially in the home markets of UK and Ireland. A report in healthcare market intel company LaingBuisson News on 15 May 2018 reported on Tunstall’s financials for the FY closing 30 Sept 2017. While global revenue improved by 9.1 percent to £240.6m, UK and Ireland revenue fell 11 percent to £82.7m. A welcome sign was that losses narrowed to £46m to £391m, not breakeven but a substantial positive change. Reports on Companies House are not available yet for the 2018 closing.

Despite acquiring AMAC, the third-largest PERS company in the US back in 2011, Tunstall Americas never made much of a dent in the well-established US PERS market nor the difficult telehealth/RPM market, and had gone through many management changes in the past decade. A sale of the US operation, in this context, makes complete sense. Cision-PR Newswire Release. (Interestingly, the US sale release is not on the Tunstall corporate website as of today.)

It’s not a bubble, really! Or developing? Analysis of Rock Health’s verdict on 2018’s digital health funding.

The doors were blown off funding last quarter, so whither the year? Our first take 10 January on Rock Health’s 2018 report was that digital health was a cheery, seltzery fizzy, not bubbly as in economic bubbles.  Total funding came in at $8.1 billion–a full $2.3 bn or 42 percent–over 2017’s $5.7 bn, as projected in Q3 [TTA 11 Oct]–which indicates confidence and movement in the right direction.

What’s of concern? A continued concentration in funding–and lack of exiting.

  • From Q3, the full year total added $1.3 bn ($6.8 bn YTD Q3, full year $8.1 bn) 
  • The deals continue to be bigger and fewer–368 versus 359 for 2017, barely a rounding error
  • Seed funding declined; A, B, C rounds grew healthily–and D+ ballooned to $59M from $28M in 2017, nearly twice as much as C rounds
  • Length of time between funding rounds is declining at all levels

Exits continue to be anemic, with no IPOs (none since 2016!) and only 110 acquisitions by Rock Health’s count. (Rock only counts US only deals over $2 million, so this does not reflect a global picture.)

It’s not a bubble. Really! Or is it a developing one? Most of the article delivers on conclusions why Rock Health and its advisors do not believe there is a bubble in funding by examining six key attributes of bubbles. Yet even on their Bubble Meter, three out of the six are rated ‘Moderately Bubbly’–#2, #3, and #5–my brief comments follow. 

  1. Hype supersedes business fundamentals (well, we passed this fun cocktail party chatter point about 2013)
  2. High cash burn rates (not out of line for early stage companies)
  3. Unclear exit pathways (no IPOs since ’16 which bring market scrutiny into play. Oddly, Best Buy‘s August acquisition of GreatCall, and the latter’s earlier acquisitions of Lively and Healthsense didn’t rate a mention)
  4. Surge of cash from new investors (rising valuations per #5–and a more prosperous environment for investments of all types)
  5. High valuations decoupled from fundamentals (Rock Health didn’t consider Verily’s billion, which was after all in January)
  6. Fraud or misuse of funds (Theranos, Outcome dismissed by Rock as ‘outliers’, but no mention of Zenefits or HealthTap)

Having observed bubbles since 1980 in three industries– post-deregulation airlines in the 1980s, internet (dot.com) in the 1990s, and healthcare today (Theranos/Outcome), ‘moderately’ doesn’t diminish–it builds to a peak, then bursts. Dot.com’s bursting bubble led to a recession, hand in hand with an event called 9/11.

This Editor is most concerned with the #5 rating as it represents the largest divergence from reality and is the least fixable. While Verily has basically functioned as a ‘skunk works’ (or shell game–see here) for other areas of Google like Google Health, it hardly justifies a billion-dollar investment on that basis alone. $2 bn unicorn Zocdoc reportedly lives on boiler-room style sales to doctors with high churn, still has not fulfilled its long-promised international expansion, and has ceased its endless promises of transforming healthcare. Peleton is a health tech company that plumps out Rock Health’s expansive view of Health Tech Reality–it’s a tricked out internet connected fitness device. (One may as well include every fitness watch made.)

What is the largest divergence from reality? The longer term faltering of health tech/telecare/telehealth companies with real books of business. Two failures readily come to mind: Viterion (founded in 2003–disclosure, a former employer of this Editor) and 3rings (2015). Healthsense (2001) and Lively were bought by GreatCall for their IP, though Healthsense had a LTC business. Withings was bought back by the founder after Nokia failed to make a go of it. Canary Care was sold out of administration and reorganized. Even with larger companies, the well-publicized financial and management problems of publicly traded, highly valued, and dominant US telemed company Teladoc (since 2015 losing $239 million) and worldwide, Tunstall Healthcare’s doldrums (and lack of sale by Charterhouse) feed into this. 

All too many companies apparently cannot get funding or the fresh business guidance to develop. It is rare to see an RPM survivor of the early ’00s like GrandCare (2005). There are other long-term companies reportedly on the verge–names which this Editor cannot mention.

The reasons why are many. Some have lurched back and forth from the abyss or have made strategic errors a/k/a bad bets. Others like 3rings fall into the ‘running out of road and time’ category in a constrained NHS healthcare system. Beyond the Rock Health list and the eternal optimism of new companies, business duration correlates negatively with success. Perhaps it is that healthcare technology acceptance and profitability largely rests on stony, arid ground, no matter what side of the Atlantic. All that money moves on to the next shiny object.(Babylon Health?) There are of course some exceptions like Legrand which has bought several strong UK companies such as Tynetec (a long-time TTA supporter) and Jontek.

Debate welcomed in Comments.

Related: Becker’s Hospital Review has a list of seven highly valued early stage companies that failed in 2018–including the Theranos fraud. Bubble photo by Marc Sendra martorell on Unsplash

Can equipping care homes with telehealth save the NHS £1bn? (UK)

Well, every little bit helps the budget shortfall and the new Health Secretary. A five-year study of care homes run by NHS Calderdale (Yorkshire) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), equipped with sensor-based equipment (telehealth and telecare) plus a multidisciplinary nursing team available to support residents, saved on bed days, hospital admissions, and even GP visits to care homes. Admissions relating to falls decreased by 7.7 percent in the past year, resulting in an annual saving of more than £200,000.

The 383,500 UK care home residents with complex long-term conditions represent just 0.7 percent of the population, yet they account for a disproportionate amount of the NHS budget. The Calderdale study saved 7,000 hospital bed days in its first two years alone and GP visits to care homes reduced by 45 percent. 50 percent of care homes reduced falls by least 10 percent.

The Quest for Quality in Care Homes initiative co-sponsored by Tunstall Healthcare extrapolated from the Calderdale results that the NHS could nationally save £1bn, avoid some 226,000 hospital admissions. and release 2.5 million bed days. Digital Health, Tunstall Healthcare study page

Tunstall partners with voice AI in EU, home health in Canada, update on Ripple alerter in US

Tunstall Healthcare seems to be a recent convert to the virtues of partnership and not trying to do it all in-house. Here’s a roundup of their recent activity in three countries with advanced technology developers. 

Perhaps the most advanced is conversational computing, which with Siri and Alexa is the 2017-2018 ‘IT Girl’, albeit prone to a few gaffes.  The European Commission is incentivizing the development of the next generation of interactive conversational artificial intelligence to assist older adults to live independently within their home. The largest award of €4m is going to Intelligent Voice, a speech recognition company based in London. The EMPATHIC project will develop a conversational ‘Personalized Virtual Coach’ with partners including Tunstall and the University of Bilbao, as well as several other companies and academic organizations in seven European nations. Digital Journal

On the other side of the Atlantic, Tunstall is partnering with TELUS Health in Toronto. TELUS will use Tunstall’s ICP Integrated Care Platform with remote patient monitoring and videoconference telehealth capabilities to monitor patients in their network. Apparently, this is the first use of the ICP in the Americas, as previous deployments have been in Europe, Australasia, and China. It is also additive to TELUS’ own capabilities. TELUS itself is a conglomerate of healthcare tech, with EHRs, analytics, consumer health, claims/benefits management, and pharmacy management. TELUS release.

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ripplenetwork_5890862790fc7.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]This Editor also followed up with the CEO of Ripple, the smart-looking compact alerter targeted to a younger demographic that would dial 911 in emergency situations through a smartphone app or for a subscription fee, connect to Tunstall’s call center network. It was Americas’ CEO Casey Pittock’s last move of note back in February. In June, with his departure, a check of Kickstarter and social media indicated that Ripple also disappeared. Last month, after reaching out to their founder/CEO Tim O’Neil, it was good to hear that this was quite wrong. Ripple was featured on HSN on 23 September (release) and joined that month with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and first lady Susan Snyder at the End Campus Sexual Assault Summit. On the new website, it’s priced as an affordable safety device: $19 for one unit connecting to an app to push notifications, plus $10 monthly for 24/7 live monitoring through Tunstall. A discreet alert device that has a jewelry-type look, pares safety down to the essentials, and extends safety coverage to the young does have something on the ball.

 

Some quick, cheerful updates from Welbeing, CarePredict, Tunstall, Tynetec, Hasbro, Fitbit

It’s Friday, and in search of cheerful topics, here are some updates on doings from telecare, telehealth, and related companies we’ve recently noted on TTA:

Welbeing‘s opened a new head office at Technology Business Park in Moy Avenue in Eastbourne….CarePredict‘s AI for ADL system using the Tempo wearable has new implementations at LifeWell Senior Living’s community in Santa Fe, New Mexico (their third with CarePredict) and a three-year commitment with the Avanti Towne Lake community, Cypress, Texas. Dave Muoio has an interview with CEO Satish Movva on Mobihealthnews….Tunstall is partnering with Milpitas, California-based noHold’s Albert bot to create a virtual assistant for Tunstall’s mobile Smart Hub product, currently in Australia and in trials in Europe and the USA….Tynetec (advert above) has been closely associated and fundraised with the Dementia Dog Project and DogsforGood. An article in the Express highlights both in the beneficial role of pets with Alzheimers and dementia sufferers…. In robotic pet news, Hasbro is upgrading its ‘Joy for All’ companion pets through a Brown University research program, Affordable Robotic Intelligence for Elderly Support (ARIES) to add medication reminders, basic artificial intelligence, and more (Mobihealthnews)….Fitbit continues its march to a clinicalized product touting diabetes management partnerships with Medtronic and DexCom, plus clinical trials detecting sleep apnea through its SpO2 sensor. 3rd quarter sales were up 23 percent to $244 million and 40 percent from repeat purchasers, but they took an $8 million loss from a distributor (MedCityNews).

Tender Alert: Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust for TECS

One more from our Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman, is from NHS South West which is reviewing their currently in-house delivery of TECS, including monitoring, in Torbay. The Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is seeking a fresh look at innovative services from providers who are interested and able to provide the full service from equipment, installation and monitoring, as well as bench-marking information. To review their current services and equipment (Tunstall), they helpfully provided this linkThis was posted today (15 Aug) and closes 1 September, so there’s only a short window. Refer to the Gov.UK Contracts Finder page for contact information and (importantly) document attachments.

Tunstall pairing with Inhealthcare digital health for NHS remote monitoring

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-T-thumb-480×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”150″ /]A digital link of hope for Tunstall’s future? Announced at The King’s Fund Digital Health & Care Conference but oddly not receiving much notice was the UK collaboration of Tunstall Healthcare and Inhealthcare. Inhealthcare builds infrastructure for digital health services, and currently works extensively with multiple NHS regions and programs, such as the North of England Regional Back Pain Programme, NHS England’s Sheffield City Region Test Bed and the Darlington Healthy New Town project. Their services include telehealth monitoring for INR, COPD, medication reminders, a smartphone app platform, chronic pain management, and a surprising one that addresses undernutrition in older adults. The Tunstall-Inhealthcare objective is to integrate health and social care with clinical care systems in six areas: LTC home monitoring, identifying vulnerable patients, involving family members, 24/7 clinical care coordination centers, post-discharge management, and digital health at home innovation. Also noted is that Inhealthcare has programming technology that can reduce the time to build out services and apps.

Inhealthcare Ltd is part of Intechnology plc, owned by Peter Wilkinson, who has developed several UK internet and technology companies at scale–Planet Online, Freeserve, and Sports Internet (now Sky Betting and Gaming). Tunstall release

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.