Tech for aging in place -- still waiting, integrators wanted

Product potential and interest is there.  Within the past few weeks I have been briefed by no fewer than 10 firms about products/solutions being developed to serve the 'aging in place' consumer -- a few are launched: they represent some combination of offerings for senior, caregiver, provider -- with and without devices directly in the home. Some of these startups are steadfastly convinced that offerings can be sold directly through consumer channels, while those with more configurable products may see the need to recruit channel partners to get into the market. Meanwhile, in the past year or so, I have heard from various local service providers (some have registered in this Forum entry) about delivering solutions, even testing them in labs, to help seniors. This is good.

Support on the one hand, compatibility on the other.  Over the last year, CrossLoop now reflects the unmet need of seniors to get help with computer problems -- offering CrossLoop Home as a paid service for family members to share computer expertise and screens. SeniorNet offers regional training centers for use of computers.   But beyond the doorway of the home, who is packaging and integrating solutions together, considering the computer, the network, the sensor network (!), and the telehealth devices all hang together in a coherent and supported way? At the device compatibility end of the spectrum, check out this  press release from telehealth vendor IDEAL LIFE which now offers "Apple, AT&T, Cricket, Google, HTC, LG, Nokia, Motorola, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Virgin Mobile." And not to be bested in the buzzword category, of course, mHealth (mobile) requirements are met.

Retail -- is that the right model?  I have also had inquiries like this: "I haven't seen technology for aging in place at Best Buy or Target.  Are there manufacturer's representatives that focus on aging products?  How do you see future products getting to the consumer?"  Good question, can only ask, not answer. Is Best Buy or Target the route? I am doubtful that placement of tech products in a retail store will be accompanied by enough expertise to get products into the home of seniors, but even with motivated 'family experts' as buyers, will they be bought and not implemented, or implemented and then discarded?  Is the Geek Squad the answer? I know some vendors are pursuing this -- I look forward to hearing about sustained success.

The dealer channel -- is that it?  Security, home automation, and other consumer electronics and home theater vendors (see CEDIA.Net) want to expand revenue streams and are experimenting with PERS resale and home monitoring (some with telehealth device add-ons) -- see this offering from iControl as one example. Are there guidelines for what constitutes a minimum or maximum package (imagine a (Quad-play) to 'keep elderly in their home for longer'? Is there a well-understood and repeatable process for training reps about communicating with and introducing tech to older adults? Again, please offer success stories.

What about the healthcare professional?   IDEAL LIFE is a telehealth/telemedicine vendor (like Intel Health Guide, Viterion, Honeywell, Bosch) -- the output of biometric readings are provided to health professionals through (see above) multiple device alternatives. But these folks don't and most likely won't have the whole person top of mind when they enter the home, focused on chronic disease management and monitoring up to, but not necessarily including caregiving roles and tasks. Device vendors do not view their role as responsible for integrating multiple technologies together for long-term use in the home and their provider channels seem unlikely to as well. On the contrary, the industry is still 'studying' the benefits.

Local integrators wanted -- and an accompanying integrator process.  The "Checklist" for buying technologies for aging in place is, of course, reversible for manufacturers and sellers. But we still have a desperate need for local integrators, whether they work for national organizations or not -- entering the home is, by definition, local. These integrators offer a menu of product alternatives, not just one, taking into account the existing home infrastructure -- telephone, wireless, broadband, computer, telehealth devices, what else? The integrators (maybe from the dealer category above) have formed alliances perhaps with geriatric care managers, discharge planners from local hospitals and rehab facilities. Maybe they know what tech offerings should be in a discharge kit, for example, so that an individual who lives alone doesn't return to the hospital. Maybe these include medication management devices or dispensers. These integrators form relationships -- knowing who's who and what choices are offered -- with local carrier offices of Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or whomever.  

Feedback of course is welcome.

 

 


 

 

IT Support

I really thankful to you for this great read!! You did a very great job, keep it up. The competition for good IT Support is increasing and becoming more complex. It can be difficult to determine which is the right support, the company could be for your business. With a computer support to become competitive, there are many companies that will do what it takes to get your business, including accepting various questionable conditions of the contract.

Sales channels for techy products for seniors

I am currently introducing a new, hi-tech type product for senior communities, and soon to include seniors at home. www.MoSoNex.com Since my background is industrial sales and distribution channels, I thought that I could find an independent sales rep channel for senior communities. But this has been impossible so far. With many new technology based products being developed for this market, this seems to be a real void. Am I missing something? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tom Binder
tom.binder@MoSoNex.com

Distribution and Customer Access

If you are reading this blog you know the market opportunity for the aging population. Major retailers do too.

What do they have? Customers and distribution. If you are a product developer having the reach of a Best Buy (distribution and customers) could be the difference between success and failure. Mass market retailers have figured out the integrator process (Lowes or Home Depot). What might be needed a "senior certified installer" who can adapt to various technology providers but gets technology. Similar to installers for security systems or home theater.

Niche products might be able to sustain independent integrators. However, if the market for age-in-place technology does grow the major retailers will be force to reckon with. They are seeking to grow and will follow their customers as they age.

Installing aging in place technology

MY Virtual Companion is a dba of our low voltage electrical contracting Biz

Having experience installing in Hospitals, Nursing & Assited living enviroments,

with very good home systems integration puts us in a confident position about what we are doing.

Collaboration with an established caregiving entity would make a complete package

Together we can interview the client & family and make it work together .

The care giver will benifit from a closer connection & the two way communication & telementry,

with the suplimental monitoring.  Great programming, strong network capabilities & journey level installers.

What?  This can work!  but no vender alone can.

 

Alan Kutner

President, System Integrator

www.MyVirtualCompanion.com

Snoqualmie, WA. 98065

425-471-3342

 

 

Person Centered Care and Clinical Care Management

It is refreshing to see more I.T innovation going on in Long Term Care and Home Care. For many years vendors have paid more attention to acute care and physicians offices. Some of us have struggled and designed solutions for the aging population on our own because we could not produce the same revenue opportunities acute care could for vendors.

I welcome and applaud these vendors for stepping up and taking a part in serving the aging population. Remember, it is the aging population that nurtured us for so many years, and now they need us. We CAN provide affordable, value added solutions that protect and help take care of this population.

As a provider who has recently completed CPOE and Electronic Medication in a 705 bed facility, I can assure you the benefits of these systems and solutions are proving even more valuable in the tertiary care world. I welcome participation in improving the safety and care management for the aging population. Thanks to all.

Greg Fortin
CIO
Isabella

Matt Carter's Comment

Thank you for the comments and for making such a tremendous commitment to the issues and needs surrounding AIP and technology facilitation.

As a former integrator, who now consults with that industry and is involved in the development of its Outreach efforts, http://www.cedia.net/outreach/industry_outreach.php, I would like to say we are here and are looking at how we can support the work that you and so many other have been doing to set the stage for technology based solutions.

I welcome suggestions on how we can create stronger and more vibrant relationships that will, to the end game you suggest, insure the proper, timely, and relationship based installations and service that should be a hallmark of providers. Please, anyone, feel free to contact me through the following link: www.linkedin.com/in/mattcarter2020
Laurie, anything that I can do to join your conversations and act in furthering the support your goals please let me know.

Age Tech as the Invisible Servant

Mark Weiser eloquently stated "The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."

This is where Age Tech needs to head - towards technology as a servant. But, we are definitely not there yet.

In June, Aldea Communications is launching a division called Happy@Home (tm) where technology solutions for independent living are being customized on a per household/ per caregiver organization in San Diego County. Because of our lovely climate and large military bases, we have a large group of seniors which is projected to triple over the next 10 years. We have been evaluating a myriad of technologies that are geared to aging-in-place over the last 4 months, and I can honestly say, the integrator biz is a crazy business.

A number of vendors have mature "dealer" programs and reasonably mature businesses and technologies. Other vendors seem to be inventing on the fly and are presenting immature technologies, sketchy funding and ad hoc dealer programs. And, there are a bunch in the middle. Price points are all over the place and the opportunity for installation fees and recurring revenue at the integration level is also all over the place.

Since we've been trying to compare technologies and technology clusters that we'd install in a home to address specific customer needs (e.g. Alzheimers, techphobic active seniors, chronic care monitoring by worried adult children), we've discovered that we are going to need to do training and some software development to integrate the myriad of databases for notifications of loved ones that some services require.

This is a high-touch market that requires high-quality staff that does honest, careful identification of client needs then installs and supports reliable technologies. I need to be able to pay my staff living wages.

So, let me tell you what I want from vendors to deploy in my market. I want:
1. A clear dealer program with a set of prescribed performance expectations from dealers (i.e. keep the good dealers in and kick out the bad actors.)
2. If the dealer program has a buy-in fee, the ability to return the equipment and get a refund if it doesn't perform as stated in the vendor's literature.
3. A compelling marketing plan and how it can be used to bolster my sales, especially competitive analysis and product positioning.
4. Decent profit margins that will allow my company to pay reasonable salaries in this high-touch business.
5. Referral programs that actually get me new business in addition to my local marketing efforts.
6. A privacy policy that I can share with clients especially for tech that collects sensitive information.
7. A money-back guarantee that I can share with my clients.
8. Options for billing where I can be the main biller to the client for installation and recurring revenue and the vendors just get their cut (versus them paying me.)
9. Reliable equipment that works so I don't have to "roll a truck" more than once per month to any client.
10. Remote troubleshooting per 9.
11. Understanding that CELLULAR coverage is NOT ubiquitous in the US and in hilly territories like San Diego, lots of cellular services do-not-work. Roaming is mandatory in cell-based systems.
12. All Internet-connected technologies must support WIFI.
13. An API so that I can integrate "loved one" databases across services from one screen.
14. A quarterly non-disclosure review of the product pipeline.
15. Good technical support.

We decided to embrace this business segment because we are huge technology fans and realize that many of the technologies we are testing can save lives and help people lead fuller, more connected lives. And, we are excited about the opportunity to provide jobs for talented college graduates who are coming into a terrible job market. But, in the end, this is a business and we need to pay the bills. So, vendors, work with us and we can all be quite successful.

AgeTech as the Invisible Servant.

I could not improve on your words or direction,Susan. If your company hopes to come to market with a service or product to this segment, then the above 15 points should be embedded in your skull.
Building a new product is just the beginning of a long marketing adventure that many have no clue how to navigate. The sooner you learn the lingo and the retail structure, the faster you'll have success.

Getting real..at last!

Now we're talking!  Thanks for an excellent description of the real needs facing anybody trying to use/introduce/service aging in place technologies.   

Vendors wonder why "adoption" of AIPT is so slow when the need for AIPT is indisputable...and aging babyboomers seem to be receptive to aging in place technologies, home design, community planning, et al.

Now it's time for vendors to get real and heed the good advice in Susan Estrada's perceptive post!

 

I'm biased,but I think the

I'm biased,but I think the best place to sell these products is through senior services providers who are at-home specialists providing other services in a senior's home. That type of service is all about trust. I don't think you can get ingrained trust and specialized senior expertise at Target or Best Buy.

Eric Schubert
Ecumen
www.changingagingblog.org

I agree having the grace that a caregiver can bring.

Aging in place technology fits like a glove.  The caregiver will appreciate the health benefits & the support.

Our product with deep scheduling & reminding with re-reminding and in & out of bed alerts if wanted can

give added reassurance to the Circle-of-Care TM

Alan Kutner

www.MyVirtualCare.com

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