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Community call services and PERS (Personal Emergency Response Systems)

At first glance, this article was a human interest story about a free service for seniors in Columbus Ohio. There were only 4 enrollees in a program that provided automatic safety calls (reverse 911) at preset times. With no answer after 3 tries, the police were dispatched. The service helped a senior who had no nearby relatives and had lapsed into a diabetic coma -- when she didn't answer the phone, police followed the safety call procedure and broke into her home, saving her life. The program cost the local council on aging $44,000 to set the program up. But adminstrators admitted lack of signup -- seniors don't want to admit frailty and may not have wanted the police to break into their home. And finally, lack of awareness marketing didn't help.

Now, fast backward in the cycle to the PERS vendors like Visonic, or Philips whose channel is regional dealers -- in a market that is largely driven by incident -- after a fall, a senior is now motivated to wear a watch or pendant. Why shouldn't those dealers and service providers offer a free safety call service for seniors in their region in partnership with local councils and centers on aging. Market the free service (limited time only) as extending beyond reverse 911 -- into automated medication reminder call times. Advertise the free service in the local newspaper. With signup, use that registration process to share information on PERS and home monitors as a means of never having to use the free service.

Why suggest a program that didn't work in Columbus? Because it wasn't framed in a strategic (and more complete) context. I would be interested in hearing why this isn't both a good marketing approach and a public service at the same time.



What do you have in mind re: safety call besides rx reminder? Besides fear or concern about post fall lie times (primarily by family members not residing with elder), self-efficacy (increased confidence)with everday ADL tasks by elders is a most important by-product of PERS use (but not marketed by PERS companies). I did some consulting with one of the national PERS companies and recommended a 'safety program/call' around 'safe mobility' (same as fall prevention/fear of falling reduction but a term more elders are more comfortable with). Aside from some corny cookbook literature (not targeted to safety needs of individual elders), the company never acted on my suggestions.

I see this (free safety call service) as a lead generator for PERS vendors who can present PERS to participants as an upgrade, described in the right way  -- keeping people living well in their own homes. Described as a community service for seniors who are invited by senior centers, public service announcements on radio and newspaper, and even (who knows?) noticed by the adult children of the seniors who visit.

Anyway, that's what I am thinking -- happy to hear why this wouldn't work if PERS vendors tried it.


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