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Here we go again -- Intel, Oregon promote research -- but products exist

Another day, another misleading article. Call me amazed reading today's NY Times article on Oregon Health and Science University research (funded by Intel) about fall prevention promoting their work. The implication: there are no sensor-based monitoring products already in the market.  Interviewees observed that a research project was beginning to make progress in this area, noting  motion sensing and pattern detection to help alert to changes in walking patterns (for example, frequency of bathroom visits) and that this research was helping the cause of preventing falls among seniors. The article quotes Intel's Eric Dishman: “The independent-living industry could have a huge payoff in innovation, jobs and competitiveness,” said Eric Dishman, an Intel research fellow and director of strategy for the company’s digital health group."

And there's more. "But now, researchers are beginning to apply the digital tools of low-cost wireless sensors in carpets, clothing and rooms to monitor an older person’s walking and activity. The continuous measurement and greater precision afforded by simple computing devices, researchers say, promise to deliver new insights on risk factors and tailored prevention measures." Ironically, this is the very same NY Times that reported several months ago on products like Healthsense's eNeighbor -- that were already in the market.

Stop researching folks -- we're there -- just promote current companies. I am really tired of the disconnect between research (which generates no product) and products which struggle to build name recognition and revenue -- depriving those who could benefit from them NOW from knowing they exist.

Real firms are in the market today. Five companies now (GE QuietCare, GrandCare, Healthsense, WellAWARE and Xanboo are revenue-generating products that track motion (or absence of motion) with wall-mounted sensors, a base station and transmission to a recipient of the resulting information and patterns. And yes, they are used in independent living (SelfHelp in Queens, NewCourtland in Philadelphia, to name a few). 

More options for fall detection and prevention. Meanwhile, for fall detection, Halo Monitoring offers a wearable fall detection device (belt clip or chest strap) that transmits information to a base station, enabling information to be used to track pattern changes. And plenty of innovation remains ahead of us. Up next will be more technologies in this market that integrate video, social connections, and health diagnostic devices -- enabling assistance for more mobile and out-and-about seniors.

Today is so yesterday.
Independent living organizations need more guidance on how useful these technologies can be. Intel should apply research dollars to project (including stimulus) grants that deploy actual products in more of them as well as private homes,  boosting awareness and accelerating market adoption. With market adoption, will come product improvement. Come on Intel -- I believe your home page tag line "Today is so yesterday". As another famous line goes, a rising tide lifts all boats -- Intel, make the tide rise.


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Thanks Laurie - as always this is spot on..

we like to remind of the Noah Principle:
No more prizes for predicting rain, only prizes for building arks!!

thanks Laurie

Laura Mitchell
GrandCare Systems


You have touched that nerve which affects many of us who own or represent companies that have credible solutions for seniors WHICH WORK NOW!!
Thanks for pointing out what is not so obvious the the public at large. I am still amazed when I tell folks we can detect a fall without having a senior push a button.
Keep up the great work.

Jay Wasack
AlwaysConnected Solutions

I agree with Laurie totally. It is the small manufacturer, the caregiver trying to help his or her parent, the social group that meets on Tuesday afternoon and the many small consultants and technicians that get the word out. The elderly already trust them and listen to them.

I know many of the small manufacturers and inventors that Laurie points out above. I also purchase products to demo at assisted living facilities. I simply can not afford to buy all of them.

I would be happy to demo and introduce more products if the companies would be willing to provide training and demo units for that purpose. I also sell and place products in these facilities and like nothing more than to see thier eyes light up and the huge smiles when they finally see it work for them. I will also warn you that not all feedback is positive. You may want to rethink a few of your ideas or adapt them to the elderly. It is like this industry. You can only fix what you know.

In your 6/22/09 blog entry you shared my experience re. a device installation (w/o notification) at a nursing care facility where my parents reside.  This is a well tested NOT research product effort.  But it's not just about the technology that facility administrators and providers should be concerned.

To add a few more details:  the installation costs were back-dated to residents by 2 months (w/o) Board of Director approval by the facility administrator.  Only after my father questioned the activity were residents notified of what was happening and that there would be NO COST to them.  This was given in writing!  The provider coordinator was stunned to read this after the fact since technology was NOT being provided free of charge.  Apparently the administrator offset costs by no longer charging for building parking but then ended up having a small ($15) net increase on a monthly basis to ALL residents whether or not they ever used parking!  And to add insult to injury, residents who expressed concerns have been vilified.  In fact, my parents have both asked I not speak directly the administrator about the topic to avoid any further negative consequences to them or their friends living there.  This at one of the most well-respected private facility in a large metropolitan area.

I suggest that ALL providers be contractually required (by the providers) to give user guidelines directly to facility administrators and require them to distribute end-user FAQ's (at the very least) to residents AND THEIR FAMILIES to ease facility installations and to encourage transparency.  Remember, residents of in-care facilities (at all levels) consider their apartments their homes.  You wouldn't allow Google, Microsoft, Chase Bank or Walmart to intrude on your privacy and charge you for the inconvenience.  Why are these product providers allowing facility administrators to do it?  Remember, the residents will see those product logos every time they see a device (5/apartment in this case) while the names of facility administrators who oversaw installations whether done well or poorly will be long forgotten.

I tried to training and FAQ aspects in this blog post -- thinking that the vendors would provide them.


At an AAHSA session, when I asked a GE rep whether they would augment a scale that detects muscle mass with step-by-step advice about what to do to improve muscle mass which would help prevent falls, he said that GE wouldn't want the liability of offering that advice. So maybe we are talking about a modified vendor-provided FAQ that the facility tailors and offers to residents.