Canary Care goes into administration, is acquired by Lifecycle Software (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Abingdon-based Canary Care, a developer and marketer of wireless sensor-based home health monitoring systems, has gone both into administration (the closest US equivalent is Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and been acquired by Lifecycle Software Ltd., a developer of CRM and billing software for telecommunications, internet service providers, and utility companies. In US terms, this is basically a pre-packaged bankruptcy.

According to their listing on Companies House, the administration started on 31 August. At the end of August, Lifecycle acquired the company (5 September press release). The Lifecycle website now features that Canary Care will be ‘keeping your dearest nearest’.

Stuart Butterfield, a Canary Care director as well as interim managing and technical director, was kind enough to answer my inquiry about the company’s status with a message that expressed a great deal of hope:

So, we’re still very much alive, and will continue to provide the Canary Care product and service that our existing customers know and love. As you will be aware, adoption of TECS is painfully slow. However, our new owner provides us with the stability and resources to continue to develop the Canary Care offering and we’re very excited and optimistic about the future and the opportunity to bring Canary Care to a wider audience.

Innovative assistive technology/TECS, despite the investments by major players, remains a difficult area for funding and adoption not only in the UK but also in the far larger market of the US and Canada. While we see a Best Buy acquiring GreatCall, we’re also reminded that GreatCall picked up the remnants of Lively for the IP and Healthsense for their assisted living customers and for the technology. The “name” health tech companies of the early ’00s are largely gone or no longer independent (Viterion, Living Independently, HealthSpot, Cardiocom, WellAware…)

In many ways, we have not progressed much from, say, 2007, in the field, except for tech advances and the number of players.

We wish Canary Care and Lifecycle success–and the patience they will need with this market. Hat tips first to a UK industry insider who alerted this Editor, as well as Gerry Allmark, managing director of UK Telehealthcare for help in sourcing Companies House.

‘Déjà vu all over again’ or critical mass? NYTimes looks at older adult care tech

“It’s like déjà vu all over again” as Yogi Berra, the fast-with-a-quip Baseball Hall of Fame catcher-coach-manager once said. About 2006-7, telecare broke through as a real-world technology and the tone of the articles then was much like how this New York Times article starts. But the article, in the context of events in the past two years, indicate that finally, finally there is a turning point in care tech, and we are on the Road to Critical Mass, where the build, even with a few hitches, is unstoppable.

Have telehealth, telecare, digital health or TECS (whatever you’d like to call it) turned the corner of acceptability? More than that, has it arrived at what industrial designer Raymond Loewy dubbed MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) in keeping older adults safer and healthier at home? The DIY-installed Lively! system keeps an eye on a hale 78 year old (more…)

Ding! Telecare developer Healthsense raises $10 million in 8th round

Sensor-based remote monitoring company and certified Grizzled Pioneer Healthsense has completed a raise of $10 million, its eighth round of funding since its founding in 2003. This round was led by new investor Mansa Capital with previous investors Radius Ventures and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. Mansa has current investments in only two other companies–smartphone med adherence platform HealthPrize Technologies ($3 million from Mansa just yesterday) and employer behavioral health risk manager E4 Health (CrunchBase) with a third, Independent Living Systems, listed on its website, but was a prior investor in well-known Athenahealth. Earlier investors Ziegler HealthVest Management (2007) and West Health did not join in this round. The VentureBeat article alludes to home monitoring pilots with home health providers Humana Cares/Senior Bridge and Fallon Health–odd since Healthsense has always had units in home health. Last year Healthsense bought rival telecare company WellAWARE [TTA 2 July 2013] after the latter experienced difficulty (more…)

2014: the year of reckoning for the ‘better mousetraps’

Or, the Incredible Immutability of the Gartner Hype Cycle

From Editor Donna, her take on the ‘mega-trend’ of 2014

This Editor expected that her ‘trends for next year’ article would be filled with Sensors, Wearables, Glasses, Smartwatches, 3D Printing, Tablets and Other Whiz-Bang Gizmos, with splashes of color from Continuing Crises like in the US, the NHS’ 3million lives plus ‘whither UK telecare’, various Corporate ‘Oops-ses’, IP/Patent Trolls and Assaults on Privacy. While these will continue to spread like storm debris on the beach, providing continuing fodder for your Editors (and The Gimlet Eye) to pick through, speculate and opine on, what in my view rises above–or is under it all–for 2014?

We are whipping past the 2012-13 Peak of Inflated Expectations in health tech…

…diving into the Trough of Disillusionment in 2014. Crystallizing this certainty (more…)

Telecare-assisted AL resident monitoring: study

Research on telecare in the US has been rare of late. Thus this qualitative analysis of focus groups with twelve housing managers from twelve different Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS) assisted living communities in the LivingWell@Home (LW@H) program should be looked at carefully for both benefits of and issues with sensor-based monitoring of residents’ significant activities of daily living (ADLs). On the ten most prevalent themes, the most positive were:

  • Benefits: marketing in bridging home to AL and enhanced quality of care; validation of information helping with resident medical status and overall safety; proactive detection of health events
  • Sleep patterns: quality of sleep was perceived as important, and disturbance as an advance indicator of a change in resident health
  • Family member assurance: family members understand the value of technology-assisted care in advanced alerting to potential health problems. In fact using the system at home was possibly more attractive to them than in AL.

However, issues with the LW@H program ranged from perceptual ones (resident privacy)  (more…)

Healthsense acquires WellAWARE (US)

Another sign of consolidation in technologies targeted to long term care and aging services providers is the acquisition of telecare system WellAWARE by Healthsense. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. It was long rumored that WellAWARE, which lately concentrated on sleep monitoring in LTC and SNF residences, was having long term difficulty seeking next round funding. Some speculated that it was due to its ownership structure shared by users/early funders Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS) and Volunteers of America (VOA). More recent investors .406 Ventures and Valhalla Partners were also rumored to be eager to exit after 3 1/2 years with no major breakthroughs, significant technology difficulties and management turnover. In retrospect, the 2009 $7.5 million round of funding was inadequate yet quite possibly misdirected in essentials like developing positioning and the business plan. Some evidence: a narrow focus on resident sleep quality versus diversifying capabilities, not aggressively going mobile, and not strengthening technology to be rock solid reliable, a major issue in all telecare/remote monitoring sold into senior housing. In such circumstances, acquisition was WellAWARE’s final bid.

In contrast, once also-ran Healthsense has superior funding from major investors (BC Ziegler, Radius Ventures, Merck, West Health etc.–now joined by .406 Ventures but not Valhalla) and is up to Series D [TTA 28 Sept 12] funding round. Healthsense over the years diversified considerably with capabilities and offerings spanning telehealth and telecare, strategic partnerships and a month ago received the Triple Tree iAward in recognition for clinical effectiveness. Combined, the two companies now serve over 20,000 individuals, which in the mHealth context would be a blip but makes Healthsense a formidable competitor to Care Innovations’ QuietCare and Health Guide. There is no statement in the release regarding customers or staff integration, but this Editor notes that the release is not on the WellAWARE site and most pages (notably Team and Board) are blank, which does not bode well for the reportedly few employees left. Healthsense Acquires Monitoring and Analytics Provider WellAware (release)

Update 5 July. Previously in TTA: Depending on the exact start, this June may also have marked the close or near close of a $8.1 million grant that The Good Samaritan Society received in June 2010 [TTA 24 June 10] to study and operate the WellAWARE system versus traditional care for residents of rural communities. Its operation of the system may very well be ended as active data gathering concludes and the study moves into evaluation of data/writing/publishing phase. But ‘between the lines’ readers will note that neither GSS nor VOA are mentioned in the Healthsense release.

Update 8 July. The local Minneapolis Star-Tribune gleans some additional information about the acquisition from Bryan Fuhr, Healthsense co-founder and current VP Business Development. WellAWARE was bought specifically for its greater capabilities in sleep monitoring such as breathing; the acquisition adds “5,000 new customers to Healthsense’s base of 15,000 people in 24 states”; that major Midwest provider Ecumen, one of the earliest adopters of now Care Innovations’ QuietCare, has switched to Healthsense; and that “there are no plans to cut jobs as a result of the acquisition”. But this must mean at Healthsense, as according to sources, a number of the few remaining employees at WellAWARE were released as the press releases went over the wires.