Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Mom is in Florida, adult children are far away. I see it all the time -- frail elders who want to stay where it's warm. and of course, they have adult children who can't or won't live near them. And technology vendors, as I saw at the AARP convention, and described in this well-written NY Times article, want to fill this nervewracking void. And the business model and pricing was examined in this Marketwatch overview.
Let's take a look at one I discovered at the AARP exhibit hall that combines monitoring and communication, generally offered from separate vendors -- and therefore not integrated:
GrandCare Systems. Launched in 2006, this software-based offering is designed on an open system sensor network model (www.grandcare.com). According to Laura Mitchell of the Wisconsin-based firm, the unit looks something like a Tivo box that plugs into to an internet connection. The firm’s value-add is the software which augments sensor-based information a stored on the box with configurable rules. Says Laura: “GrandCare Systems Como explores a new frontier in technology using the internet, the senior’s television to communicate, & wireless sensors to monitor wellness.
GrandCare Como has two components: Communication and Monitoring. Friends and family can send pictures, messages, reminders and more to a dedicated channel on a resident's television. Meanwhile, small sensors (motion, temperature, door, blood pressure, caller-id, weight, etc.) collect information and can assure family/caregivers that all is well.” The configurable rules include, for example, "notify if resident does not go through doorway.'"
According to Laura, “what makes this unique is the integration of sensors (non-proprietary) with communication, what we refer to as a “cognitive assistance communication station. This box can be plugged into a monitor or TV; the family can send pictures, calendar, or other cognitive assists. The communication station retails at $1795 + $39/month, when sensors are added -- caller ID, auto lights, cognitive reminder, door sensors, the retail price is $2500.” Dealer and facility discounts are available, and incentives are offered to dealers to offer the product -- including in the concept of dealer -- home care workers or geriatric care managers.
Unfortunately, no insurance reimbursement is available, so only it is targeted at those who can afford to purchase it (or even acquire it as part of an upscale independent or assisted living fee). I assume that if they knew about it, geriatric care managers would be logical advocates. (No insurance covers them either!). The coompetitors for GrandCare Como (basides QuietCare)? Your thoughts welcome.