Ho hum: GE buys Living Independently Group (QuietCare)

GE buying Living Independently Group doesn't matter. While a bit of noise is being made, this has no significance in the near term and I suspect little money was spent on this compared to the sizable sum that must have been spent to market LIG's offering since its launch in 2003, first unsuccessfully to consumers, then to senior housing organizations after that failed. And while QuietCare is certainly used in some independent living facilities, there are a number of issues associated with it and in general with the category, which is a very early market, requiring much improvement that perhaps GE will eventually fund as part of their 'health care' focus:

  • No over-time pattern analysis. First of all, unless there is pattern analysis reporting about behavioral change compared to baseline, which to my knowledge QuietCare doesn't have, the product is little more than an alert mechanism on motion or absence of motion in a room. That puts it into the same questionable category as traditional PERS devices like Lifeline, for example.  It must be tuned for false positives that arise for various reasons (vacation? a cat? what about roommates moving around?). It provides a false sense of reassurance, when a frail elderly person can still slide out of a wheelchair or bed onto the floor in the middle of the night -- then QuietCare (or Lifeline if it's not worn or worn but not activated) are both useless.
  • Start with an alarm system. It's great that QuietCare can alert for environmental factors like extreme temperature changes, but an alarm system may be far more useful -- and can even respond to break-ins, making it the most fundamental of technologies for seniors living alone. Without a configurable baseline of patterns to monitor and interpretation and analysis of deviation from those patterns, seniors would be better off with an alarm system.
  • Communication trumps monitoring. QuietCare is not integrated with any communications technology to help a frail senior, for whom it is intended, to connect with family members -- other than for risk avoidance/alerts. Perhaps even a television with the near-defunct WebTV -- would be better than nothing for a senior to communicate with family members (something QuietCare competitors GrandCare and Healthsense provide) as well as offering monitoring for absence or presence of motion.
  • Combine with wearable -- now you have something.  Far more interesting would be a combination of wearable fall detection with environmental sensing and communication devices and/or cameras-- monitoring a person (fall detection like Halo Monitoring with changes in body temperature that can be affected by fear or fever) and then monitoring the environment, like HealthSense, QuietCare, WellAWARE or GrandCare Systems.
  • Maybe someday be able to go for a walk or a ride. Even more interesting will be the eventual usefulness of wearable tracking capabilities that remember the baseline patterns and follow an individual more than the traditional Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) 500 feet away from the house -- like GPS cell phones.

And there is no point in dwelling on the fact that senior housing organizations, not known for being technology early adopters, still represent a small percentage of seniors (3 million units in total compared to 39 million over the age of 65).

Until Remote Monitoring 2.0 emerges (I am not holding my breath) which combines wearable, mobile and environmental monitoring solutions that really improve safety and well-being, GE has done little more than end a long, slow ride for Living Independently Group.

Criticisms of PERS Industry

Your criticism is well taken.  Though this kind of product has been around for quite a while, there hasn't been a lot of advancement until recently.  But a lot of companies are coming out with variations/improvements on the basic "push button to notify central station."  Just in the last few months we've had product announcements for fall detection, GPS, etc.  I think the size of the market is going to drive considerable competition and technical advancement.

Andy

LIG and GE

I agree with the general thrust of the article.

Any tech' solution should be engaging for the end-user, and promote a positive interaction besides the utility aspect of health and safety.

WellAWARE versus QuietCare

So GE quietly acquires QuietCare for an undisclosed sum -- not such a happy exit for LIG. WellAWARE in the same market category gets $7.5 million in VC funding. That is significant sum -- it will be very interesting to observe their progress!

WellAWARE Financing announced.

Ho-Hum GE - wandering

Hi Laurie,

Are you aware of "ComfortZone" now recently being promoted by the Alzheimer's Association to its nationwide Chapters and members?  It is a personal GPS device evidently carried in-pocket, and backed by a 24/7 server to send an alert to pre-programmed addresses or cell phones when out-zonal wandering is detected.

Same subject, different product:  Do you expect those GPS shoes are on track for market intro Q1 2010?

Thanks.

DB

Over time pattern analysis for QuietCare & other comments

Having been associated with QuietCare (as VP Marketing 2006 to this spring), QuietCare is in fact built on baseline pattern analysis for certain behaviors, as a combination of algorithms and in some cases rules. This is tracked on a rolling pattern of approximately two weeks, and data is stored and graphed. It's built on change of certain patterns that are aggregated and tracked: morning bedroom exit (rules), overall bathroom usage, night bathroom usage (entry/exit), feeding/hydration (based on refrigerator open/close), overall activity, interaction with medications (in one area), temperature (rules again), optional entry/exit of room (rules based motion thru door)and optional night motion (exit from bed, again rules based). On the last, if this sensor by the bed is not set up then the fall out in the middle of the night is NOT detected.

I'd agree with the following: pets such as cats climbing on surfaces can throw off a sensor (generally the meds), it took a very large dog to throw off the wall-mounted motion sensors, and two people constantly in the room would confuse the tracking. It was designed for someone living alone and without a Great Dane.

QuietCare, to my knowledge, tried to but has not yet solved the 'holy grail' of universal fall detection through the residence. In fact, no system has achieved that yet. Halo's getting there, but the chest strap is for this observer not quite acceptable, especially for women; the belt clip and vest are better ideas. We've both written about wearable sensors, like what Blue Highway and 24/Eight are working on--a far better way.

I think there needs to be an appreciation that QuietCare was the pioneer in the telecare category and was there when no other systems were: 2002-3. It was conceived by the founders and the patent holders as an alternative to assisted living. The drawback was that the system requires custom installation. In order to market it as a consumer product (yes, there was a lot of money spent in that direction, not all of it wisely) a reliable, regional or nationwide installer network needed to be in place. That failed with ADT (I was on board at the tail end of that) and failed with another company. It's a lesson learned by others; the only other system in the home space is GrandCare, and they are carefully building and supporting a real installer/marketing network. QuietCare was actually operating on two tracks--marketing into the consumer/independent living market, and meeting with more success in ALFs, where staff could take care of the installation. The latter is what won in the end.

I agree that the market is taking systems into areas where QuietCare is not: integration with alarm-based systems and PERS (which WellAWARE is tackling, and Healthsense sort of has, basic vital signs monitoring, and the 'connectedness' that GrandCare has. Universal fall detection is another. And none of these systems work ex home, either.

Perhaps there are improvements and upgrades in store now that GEHC owns QuietCare. (Otherwise, why would they purchase it?) The puzzling thing is that during the 15 months of the GE/LIG co-development agreement, with R&D highly touted, there were no 'big leaps' in technology and even smaller improvements like ZigBee were not publicized. This provided a window--competition gained funding, improved their systems, marketing and increased distribution. But we shall see.

Additional feature rich custom programming by the installer.

www.MyVirtualCompanion.com Thanks for the experience & comments.

Medical reminders & 2 way communication are in our product & we can work with our customers

making custom changes & additions as we go.  Integrate, Integrate.

This site is chock full of wisdom. I would like to hear more about fale possitives.(NO activity)

They have only caused additional calls from the Circle-o-Care TM. Alan Kutner

My Virtual Companion

Alan Kutner

AFrame Digital

Are you familiar with AFrame Digital? They have a wearable monitoring on the wrist for fall detection that is more fashionable looking than clinical. It integrates with all nurse call systems and blue tooth devices. The inference engine allows for pattern changes over time against the senior themselves as well as the population as a whole in the senior center they reside in if applicable. Other sensors can be added to the system to augment if desired, like door sensor and motion sensors. The great thing about this company is that alerts can go to family members and/or caregivers. No button is necessary in severe alert situations, like falls, but a call button is necessary if needed as well.

Submitted by Anonymous (6/8/2010)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 07:00.
Let's assume that I work for an SLC property in Florida. The residents on the AL floor just received a letter this week that they would be incurring an additional monthly charge of $200, on top of there already inflated monthly rent, for this "Quietcare" system. I have good reason to suspect that this system is being installed, not for the reasons stated, but for reasons that may possibly be considered illegal and an invasion of privacy, not to mention the possibilty of spying on Resident care staff. Most, (although there are a couple of bad apples), of which work very hard to care for these residents, although when you only have 2 CNA's per shift to care for 50 residents, it does make it somewhat dificult to answer 5(just using 5 as an example, could be more at times) call lights going off all at once in under a 5 min. response time. Some residents will push their call lights every 10 minutes because they want their AC/Heat adjusted, others just because they want attention and are lonely. In the meantime, call lights are going off by residents that truly need assistance, ie, bathroom assistance, medications, etc.
I can tell you that every resident at the Fla. property that receivd this letter is NOT happy about it and several have mentioned they want to move out. They can't afford the $4000-$5000 they already pay, every month. They seem to be getting hit up with more charges every few months. As much money as SLC is spending on this system and as much money as these residents pay, you would think that they would pay their nursing care/CNA staff more that just above min. wage.
You said your loved one is at an SLC property in Ill. THat is where are headquarters is. I would make some noise if I were you and get the family members of the residents involved.
I have said enough and could lose my job for this, but my main concern is for the residents. Good luck to you and your Mother.
.
Signed,
Anonymously concerned

Submitted by Laura (6/11/2010)

My mother is in the same facility.  I agree with you completely.  Add to that the 25% increase in "Medication Management," the 27% increase in Assisted Living Fees and the 5.9% increase in Rent (the only realistic increase)in the last few months and now an additional $2400 per year for this system.  None of this strikes me as very ethical, let alone moral.  Did you know the meeting has been changed to TODAY, June 11 at 6:00?  Hope a lot of families are planning to show up, assuming they know about the date change.

Submitted by Michael

The facility where my mother resides in Illinois, owned by Senior Lifestyle Corporation, is planning to install the QuietCare system and charge an additional $200 per month. Given that the staff is in her room quite regularly to get her up for breakfast, to bathe her, to give her meds 3-4 times per day, to get her to lunch and dinner and to make sure she gets to bed, this rather expensive new "feature" seems like a most unnecessary waste of money. I would imagine that it will be highly profitable for the facility, without any real enhancement in the safety of it's residents.

Submitted by Michael (6/7/2010)

I spoke today to the executive director of the facility who said that Senior Lifestyle Corporation is rolling this out company wide. I don't know if it's being rolled out in both independent living or just in assisted living, where my mother resides.

Senior Lifestyle Crams QuietCare Down Resident's Throat

I'm told that 13 of 14 or so people at the family meeting, where GE's rep showed up 15 minutes late to talk about the great features of the system, objected to the costs. The installation is now in place. The very day after the family meeting, a letter came out from their corporate office telling again of the benefits. It would seem obvious that they're on a PR offensive that's only necessary because of the objections. I called the letter writer who told me that their contract with GE is to pay for each room, so that even if their residents object, Senior Lifestyle's contract still obligates them to pay. He indicated that he has no solution for a owner that doesn't want the system. So much for listening to what the customer has to say. Bear that in mind if you're considering a Senior Lifestyle community.

My mother is in a not-for-profit retirement community

My mother is in a not-for-profit all-services retirement community (she lives independently) where QuietCare has been in "evaluation" for more than a year and until now at no charge. However starting in January they will charge everybody $75 per month for the "service". But my mother already has LifeLine (a "HELP" call button she wears around her wrist) for which she pays $25 monthly (which I think is reasonable), but I don't that QuietCare is worth any more than $25/month even if you *want* the service (and if I had to chose between the two, I would choose LifeLine). I think QuietCare might be more about helping owners limit liability and possibly cut staff (and therefor increase profit) than it is about providing actual help to residents.

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