Great article today from Connected Home: Christopher Wells – – – I couldn’t agree more with the end of the article discussing that someone wanting to get in on this industry must do their due diligence and “have a plan” before diving in. There is obviously not a lack for customers and it is clearly a HUGE market to get into. However, we are building a brand new category here – home health technology. It is not really replacing anything, but rather adding another phase in the continuum of care. Somewhere between TOTALLY independent at home, and independent with enabling technologies. I authored an article for CE PRO back in 2008, which I think is still relevant – – it’s called The 5 Steps to Home Health Technology: New, enabling technologies put dealers in prime position for remote healthcare management. But how do you get started? http://www.cepro.com/article/5_steps_to_home_health_tech/D1 Take a look at the article for some more info! Again, thanks to Connected Home for shedding light on this very important and steadily growing industry! We do have an industry alliance that has formed (of aging technology enthusiasts and vendors) called AgeTek: Aging Technology Alliance – agetek.org – – from Laura Mitchell, VP Marketing, GrandCare Systems
Jan 24, 2011 12:00 PM, By Christopher Wells
Systems For The Aging
“The market for technology for aging adults will grow to $20 billion by 2020, comprised of four categories: communication and engagement, home safety and security, health and wellness, and learning and contribution. Baby boomers are also caregivers of aging parents and see the opportunity to enable both themselves and their parents to age successfully in their homes of choice,” says Laurie M. Orlov, the founder of the website “Aging in Place Technology Watch.”
The upshot of all of this is that there is a large and willing market right now for technology systems that will get them what they want, which is to age in place and be as safe as possible while they are doing it. Here are a few of the solutions designed to address this market: Philips has systems designed for the end-user as well as a facilitywide system called CarePoint. The company’s system for the home, Lifeline, is a variation of a personal emergency response system (PERS) that connects to the Philips dedicated monitoring center when it is pressed. The CarePoint system is designed for managed care facilities and uses a call communicator, which offers the ability to communicate with facility staff and provides notification of wandering clients. Finally, a new endeavor named Philips Applied Technology is developing small-footprint ZigBee devices that will create a mesh network for a complete home-use medical monitoring system.
Xanboo offers monitoring in the residence, such as movement alerts and lighting and appliance control. Text and email alerts are sent to caregivers via a smart phone or PC. Part of the system exists on the cloud, where the caregiver can view live camera feeds (though there are the obvious privacy issues here) and the status of devices including thermostats, lights, and appliances.
GrandCare Systems exists as a premium system that offers all the bells and whistles and then some. It includes a full range of monitoring sensors and a system to chart activity, health vitals, and medication. Additionally, it gives the elder person the tools to communicate with loved ones. This takes the form of a touchscreen with large buttons that can operate as a standalone device or interact with a TV to display pictures from family members, emails, games, and upcoming events. All of this is said to occur seamlessly without the person needing to know a single thing about PCs.
BeClose leverages Alarm.com’s cloud technology for its informative Web interface.
In addition to Xanboo and GrandCare, there are a number of other companies offering cloud-based portals for communication and data tracking. For example, the company InTouchLink focuses on the social aspect, providing a simple, intuitive software that allows seniors to use email and the Internet. Another company, BeClose, leverages Alarm.com’s cloud technologies, delivering an informative Web interface. And then there is CloseBy Network, which has partnered with the automation company Control4 to deliver a comprehensive activity monitoring system.
While we probably can’t say the possibilities are endless, it is clear there is significant presence in this market of newbie startups and heavy hitters. So the question you might be asking is, “Is this right for me and my business?” That is the million dollar question and it depends on several factors. First, you will need to do your due diligence to decide whether the numbers work for your business. How will you approach this business? Will you target large heath care facilities, assisted living companies, or end-users? One of these approaches might be better suited to your business model. Also, while this business has hardware, it is not as hardware intensive as say, digital signage. If you target assistive living, it is more about efficiently integrating a simple system and beginning to build a recurring revenue stream through the monthly cloud subscription services. Finally, if you are the owner or a principal of an integration firm, do you think it would be a fit for not only your company but for you? You are going to be dealing with seniors and their family members, often at a time when life-altering decisions must be made. If it is a fit, home health technology might just be that type of business that will fill your wallet and your heart. What could be better than that?”