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Care Innovations Connect Makes Telehealth Social

Care Innovations -- tackling social isolation and wellness.  In some ways, yesterday’s launch of Connect from Intel-GE’s wholly owned Care Innovation joint venture should come as no surprise. When the companies combined last year, spun out of Intel’s Digital Health group and GE’s QuietCare business units, I was hopeful that they would transcend limitations of the previous parents. Especially given Intel’s investment history of researching social needs of seniors, Omar Ishrak’s comment last August really resonated: "We recognize that the conditions faced by home health patients are not necessarily clinical. It is part of our core mission [in the Joint Venture] to address social and support needs."  

Beyond patient to the person behind the monitoring.  A touch-screen device placed in the home enables a senior to have access to social networks, customized content, news, and also wellness surveys that are typical of telehealth devices – which historically have been useful for health providers, proven beneficial to seniors with chronic disease (reducing those dreaded re-hospitalizations).  But fun, social, two-way experiences, as much about enabling a senior to see out as well as caregivers see in? When the person is viewed as a patient, that can’t happen. Care Innovations’ Connect targets the person (and patient to a lesser degree) in a device paradigm that, for now, can be useful to frail seniors. When I chatted with him a few days ago, Care Innovations GM James Pursley did not rule out the possibility that future versions may take advantage of growing tablet mania – placing Connect as a starting point in the evolution of technologies that will connect caregivers, providers, and seniors together – as it must be.

Tech platforms are transitory – vendors must pick a platform for now. We are in yet another platform shift today – recognizing that a relatively small percentage of the frailest seniors are comfortable with computers or have high-speed data plans, for that matter, so dedicated appliance solutions make sense during the transition – Sonamba’s Wellbeing Monitor uses a picture frame paradigm to provide similar social connection functionality as  Connect. Other vendors, including Independa’s recently launched Angela targets the same market by customizing software into an ‘off-the-shelf’ tablet that also enables video chat. 

Despite tech paradigms shift, products must launch.  In some ways, it is a particularly murky and complex time to be launching technologies in this market.  Complicated channel strategies must parse a fragmented prospective audience --healthcare? Senior housing? How to reach families? What about home security and electronics dealers – are they vested and interested in this space? Can they reach the last few feet into the home?  Today’s PERS pendant/service (a market that’s been around FOREVER) may migrate right onto a smartphone, Telehealth devices may migrate to tablets (Dell thinks so and doctors ‘embrace’ the iPad), and there’s the television, sitting not so quietly in the corner of every senior’s living room – maybe a future social engagement device that is (comparatively speaking) designed for all.  Designing for all (including the loneliest seniors in nursing homes or their own homes) is what vendors must do.  Emerging markets reflect flux in both user willingness, channel interest, and market readiness.  Let’s applaud Care Innovations – and its Intel/GE backers! They validate and verify the value this market brings to the lives of older adults. 


This is great news, seeing the big giants like GE & Intel embracing and realizing the value of socialization, reminders and cognition (being equally important to the wellness & ADL monitoring). QuietCare was bleeding edge, I would venture to say they were the first ones to really get out there with their Activity of Daily Living remote monitoring system back in 2005. GrandCare & HealthSense were not far behind. The three of us watched each other, paved roads for one another and learned from each other. I am so glad that QuietCare is being used in this venture, it really is a great system. GrandCare founder, Charlie Hillman, was so visionary back in 2005 - being the first to combine socialization/cognition along with ADL monitoring into one system. Funny thing is, even I (at the time) didn't "get it" - didn't see why it would be so important to have that "GrandCare Communication Station", which of course has turned into the interactive touchscreen/video chat... Think of how far we all have come since 2005, especially with all of the new players in this market and the new focus to the digital home health field. I see great things happening every day in this industry and look forward to what the future will bring...
Laura Mitchell
GrandCare Systems

As a baby-boomer with very independent-thinking parents who are 87 years old and an autistic brother who is 63, I have been in a lot of pain trying to help them keep their diginity while mental and physical challenges increase. I am so excited about all the solutions coming to market. I am in the unique position to also develop a solutions being the founder of a technology firm (CyberMetrix) and the co-founder of a new firm, Eperture, LLC. Our first objective was to provide an extremely simple device for anyone who is not comfortable with computers so that acceptance would be high. The pilots have shown that we did this and then some. During one demonstration, an autistic adult sat at the system and in the middle of our presentation, he got up and said "I LOVE THIS MACHINE." His caregivers in the room became misty-eyed and later told us that he is very with drawn and shy and here he was addressing an entire group of 20 people. Our second objective was to help the family caregiver - within days of implementing this system for my mother, my stress level went WAY down. Our third objective was to create a system that can leverage third-party devices and software.

We are now seeking funding and technology partners for launching our product.
Christine Mullholand

"Most states have Verified Response laws now, so Sonamba will not work in getting rescue for seniors if a responder is not available.... like at 4am."

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Starting in January, Sonamba customers have the option of enabling a 24/7 personal
emergency response service if needed, so calls will be verified. If they choose not to subscribe to the emergency call center service, families 
have the option of being the first responders with 911 as a last resort.
In addition, Sonamba backs this up with enhanced activity of daily living monitoring -- something that current PERS systems on the market 
can't provide.


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