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Healthsense eNeighbor -- resident monitoring extended and extensible

Today, most ALFs and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have not invested broadly in home monitoring technology. But some new CCRCs are designed from the ground up. Some, like Lutheran Home Association of Minnesota, have invested in wireless broadband, providing an opportunity for  Minnesota-based Healthsense™ to implement its eNeighbor™ product line throughout as a means to facilitate aging in place.

With a heritage in industrial automation and developed with help from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and Department of Defense to help with the care of disabled veterans, eNeighbor is a product line that ranges from a simple PERS pendant, pull cord or call button, to a Nurse Call system (with full reporting and analytics), resident monitoring, and a telehealth cart that a nurse can bring into a resident's room and collect vital signs. All ride on that same wireless network. 

A closer look at resident monitoring shows the potential for this technology: the system offers 12 kinds of sensors (including bed, toilet flush, home away, open/closed, incontinence), optional web camera. According to Brian Bischoff of Healthsense, the system has the ability to correlate combinations of information, the sensor information, taken together and correlated offers multiple independent measures of ADLs. 

Brian notes that when used first in independent living residences, eNeighbor offers the facility a way to ensure that residents stay in them as long as feasible. With the typical small number of nursing home beds in CCRCs, a resident that suddenly needs a nursing home bed (as a result of a fall, for example), the CCRC beds might be full -- pushing the resident out into other facilities.  

From the family and resident perspective, enabling a resident of independent living or senior housing to feel safer, and the family to feel more secure, is the real benefit -- as a study that Healthsense commissioned at one CCRC confirmed. To me, the most interesting aspect of the study is its confirmation that actual experience with home monitoring technology improves this sense of safety -- just as the AARP Healthy@Home survey indicated that seniors and caregivers believed and hoped it would.

It's clear that independent ALFs, senior housing communities, and any other aggregate living arrangement have the potential to provide a centralized monitoring service if they have staff to respond.

But could this technology be used in private homes, perhaps that are part of 'Naturally Occuring Retirement Communities' (see ALF or NORCs)? Only if it was configured and monitored remotely by a service provider. Residents could be monitored and rapid response provided by, for example, a home care agency, visiting nurse organization, geriatric care manager.

The critical aspect, of course, is reacting to the data -- and converting it to useful information -- even trends that indicate a behavioral change over time. In this frozen housing market, as CCRCs and ALFs try to figure out what services they can bring to the community if the community can't come to them, they should consider eNeighbor or other home monitoring technologies as a potentially high-value marketing strategy for to-be residents.




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