A company is working to replace the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” image of aging in place technology with a more modern “e-mail alert: you’re mom’s been out of bed for more than 30 minutes and a dispatch has been sent” message for caretaker mobile devices.
The technology for BeClose is designed to address the trend of people staying in their homes longer before moving to an assisted living community or nursing home, facilitated by wireless remote monitoring technology. It also is intended to put potential changes in health in the context of a loved one’s routine to flesh out potential problems earlier. It’s getting the attention of potential institutional partners, such as home health agencies. It recently inked an agreement with Carelink Advantage, a Canadian dispatch service that will serve as a distribution partner.
Its motion sensors, used in partnership with Telehealth Sensors, are available for beds, chairs and doors. The sensors indicate whether the person is in bed or sitting in a chair and how long they’re away from them. It’s also capable of tracking medication and eating habits. If, for example, a bed is empty for more than 30 minutes at an odd time of night for that person and they cannot be contacted, it triggers a dispatch service.
Caregivers and institutional customers get a wireless “base station” that receives any alerts set off by the senors. The service introduced new technology last month that lets users check check on the person’s daily routine in a “dashboard” format from their mobile devices that flags up any signs that could indicate changes in behavior or health.
Mark Hanson, the co-founder and head of technology for BeClose, said that when theWashington, DC-based company first started offering the monitoring devices in 2010, potential customers would treat them like the Jetsons, as aging in place technology was relatively new to them.
As for the panic buttons from companies like Life Call and Life Alert that helped make the quote “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” a pop culture reference, Hansonsaid they’re useless if the person is incapacitated or people forget to wear them. His business is about creating a safety net.
In addition to aging adults, it sees scope for the device for people living with cognitive and mobility challenges. It also believes it could be used for people living with traumatic brain injuries as they go through rehabilitation.
“We’re moving away from having just one type of event trigger the need for emergency care,” said Hanson. “People are really trying to stitch together services, trying to more effectively see homecare paired with monitoring.”
The number of companies with patient monitoring/motion sensor devices has been growing in line with the perceived need of aging baby boomers. A recent report from Aging in Place Technology Watch counts at least 15 companies in this area. One trend within this sector has been the use of technology that can produce data on routines so that deviations can be flagged up and checked on earlier. Part of that goes to the pressure in the healthcare community to address issues like patient non-adherence that can lead to increased healthcare costs and unnecessary hospitalizations.