Upon learning about this surprising acquisition, my first thought was of the old idiom of the tail wagging the dog. Home Instead is a billion-dollar company with more than a thousand franchises while Honor, the Uber of private homecare, is still a bit of a high-tech startup, albeit a heavily funded one.
But as I thought about it more, it made perfect sense.
Home Instead was founded back when boomers were in their 30s and 40s. As part of the bottom of the population pyramid, there were plenty of boomers who could serve as caregivers, compared to the number of seniors to care for, so the business model of low-cost workers serving seniors at home made sense.
Fast forward to 2021, when boomers are the seniors who will be requiring much care in the next decade, and the pyramid is flipped. The only answer to this is enabling technology. This is exactly the expertise that Honor brings to the table.
The challenge, of course, will be to convince the franchisees that a significant change in business process is the only way to meet the challenges of caring for boomers while maintaining a reasonable ROI.
I imagine that Honor will also expand the offerings of Home Instead to include medical care, such as legitimate medication management, telehealth and telemedicine. Why? Because seniors in the 65+ population are hospitalized at nearly three times the rate of those in the middle-age bracket of 45-64. And more than 85% suffer from one or more chronic conditions. Addressing daily activities plus healthcare is the only way to truly support our boomers and avoid bankrupting our next generations of children and grandchildren.
If anyone has the vision and business acumen it’s Honor!
Written by Charlie Hillman, Founder & Chairman, GrandCare Systems
In 2005, Charlie founded GrandCare Systems alongside co-founders, Gaytha Traynor, Laura Mitchell and Nick Mitchell. For more information about GrandCare’s fully-featured telehealth, activity monitoring and social engagement technology, please visit: www.grandcare.com or contact GrandCare at email@example.com or 262-338-6147.
In California, for example, the County of Lasson uses GrandCare’s HIPAA-compliant telehealth capabilities to provide therapy visits. And in Ohio, LADD, a Cincinnati-based non-profit, created a smart home for disabled men, which uses GrandCare and other ground breaking innovations in accessibility, lighting and sensory control. This home is built from the ground up to enable the residents to live safer, more independent and happier lives. According to said Brian Hart, Chief Strategy Officer at LADD, “We have been working on this for a long time and our partnership with GrandCare enables us to provide a safe, scalable and affordable service model.” Reimbursement through Medicaid for these services is possible, because Medicaid has expanded its definition of assistive technology to include support for remote supports, such as reminders and prompts for daily activities, and even video calls to receive remote support from caregivers.
With the advent of the pandemic, the importance of telehealth became even more apparent, when it allowed patients to receive services safely, even as they sheltered at home. This was especially critical for our nation’s seniors, who were at the highest risk for the most severe forms of the disease. Those in congregate living were often under quarantine, and unable to safely leave their communities for needed care. The pandemic resulted in a dramatic increase in the use of remote telehealth services.
“Before the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), only 15,000 fee-for-service beneficiaries each week received a Medicare telemedicine service. Since the beginning of the PHE, CMS has added 144 telehealth services,” according to CMS. In the 7-month time period between mid-March and mid-October of 2020, over 24.5 million people received a Medicare-covered telehealth service.
“Telehealth has long been a priority. We started paying for short virtual visits in rural areas long before the pandemic struck. But the pandemic accentuated just how transformative it could be.” – Seema Verma, CMS Administrator
In recent months, Network Health, a Wisconsin-based insurance company, started a new program for its Medicare Advantage members in Wisconsin, using GrandCare in member homes to provide virtual visits with care managers and providers, and reduce loneliness and isolation. They will continue to roll out telehealth and medication management solutions to offer a better member experience.
This year’s Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule once again expands CMS coverage for telehealth services. Although one category of new covered services is designed to be temporary, remaining on the list through the end of the declared public health emergency, others are permanent additions to the list of covered services. It’s part of a strategy, according to CMS, to “create a healthcare system that results in better accessibility, quality, affordability, empowerment, and innovation.”
“Telehealth has long been a priority,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We started paying for short virtual visits in rural areas long before the pandemic struck. But the pandemic accentuated just how transformative it could be.”
Among the many additional to this year’s schedule is a welcome broadening of the coverage for remote monitoring services. In addition, CMS has created new codes for coverage of online assessments, making it possible for qualified non-physician health care professionals to perform these services. “Medicare beneficiaries will now be able to receive dozens of new services via telehealth, and we’ll keep exploring ways to deliver Americans access to healthcare in the setting that they and their doctor decide makes sense for them,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Quick–someone you care about needs help staying safe and healthy and independent. Who do you turn to? Whether that someone is elderly or has a disability, and whatever their specific needs are, the answer should probably be Gray Matters Alliance. Their expert staff has a swiss army knife of technologies to address just about every need you could have. And that, of course, includes GrandCare.
- Serving elderly and disabled
- Since 2013
- Comprehensive home assessments
- Report for education, equipment, resources
- Provides GrandCare and other assistive technologies
Founded by Vicki Spraul in 2013, GMA has been providing expert services to the elderly and people with disabilities for 7 years. One of the great things they do is a total home assessment. They send an Occupational Therapist to your house to assess your medical history, cognitive capability, mobility, strength, and balance. Then they assess your entire home, inside and out. Every entrance and exit, room by room, they spot any safety hazards, and look for any modifications and equipment that you may need. All of this is delivered to you in a written report including recommendations for education, equipment, and resources to improve your safety and independence.
Now that’s what we call service!
GMA is part of the Missouri Technology First Initiative which provides assistive technology and remote supports, but they operate nationwide. They are currently an approved Medicaid Waiver Provider for the states of Missouri, Illinois and Oklahoma and more to come. As if that weren’t enough, they are also an approved Brain Injury Waiver Provider for the Department of Health and Senior Services in MO.
If you have an elderly or disabled person in your life and you feel like you need guidance, don’t go it alone. Gray Matters Alliance is your one stop shop for both expert service and great assistive technology.
No question, it’s been a tough year for everyone. Whether you’re a fifth-grader, a parent, an employer, or an employee, we’ve all had our own struggles related to the pandemic. Senior citizens have had their unique challenges, too. Regardless of where they live, many older Americans have found themselves isolated from their family and friends, not getting out as much, and not receiving visitors. It’s smart. It’s healthier. But it’s also downright boring. What’s there to do all day, at home, alone?
Seniors with GrandCare have fared much better. With GrandCare’s simple video calling app, they can easily visit with family and friends, wherever they are. And it’s so easy to use.
Being together is still the best. But GrandCare video calls are the next best thing, and it makes a big difference in seniors’ quality of life. There are no usernames, passwords or URLs to manage. There isn’t even a keyboard or a mouse, because you just don’t need them. You just press a button to start a video call, or press a button to answer one. Even those who, for dexterity or mobility reasons, can’t touch the screen, GrandCare makes sure they can still have successful, easy video calls every time.
But GrandCare offers more to keep seniors engaged and connected. The pandemic moved us to go all-in on social features. We’ve added new games and audiobooks. We’ve added live local radio stations, and old-time radio programs you can’t hear anymore like Car Talk, The Shadow and Dragnet. GrandCare will even tell you a joke, challenge you with trivia about history, sports, or current events, or entertain you with a fun fact. And we’re adding more new content every couple of weeks!
Sure, our mission is to keep people safe, healthy, and connected. But the bottom line is that we do what we do because we want to make people’s lives better. So, settle in to hear the next chapter of Anne of Green Gables, visit with your grandkids, or enjoy a game of Memory. GrandCare’s here for you.
We’d like you to meet our newest team member, Jen Kleczka. In fact, we’d like to meet her too, some day. Most of us are working from home, and have only seen our new Office Manager over Zoom. But we like her a lot, and we’re really excited to welcome her to GrandCare.
Jen’s a people person and incredibly organized. She also has a “can do” attitude, which is perfect for this job. GrandCare is in a period of rapid growth, and it’s her responsibility to keep track of pretty much everything, for everybody and in her limited spare time, do the bookkeeping. She’s been drinking from a firehose since she started and she still seems to be thirsty, which is a great fit for GrandCare.
“I love this company, and I love this job,” she said. “It’s exactly what I want to be doing at this stage of my life.”
Jen was born and raised in West Allis, but she’s been in West Bend for most of her adult life. Her children all graduated from West Bend schools. She has a breadth of experience in jobs she picked mostly to fit around her kids’ schedules when they were young, and then caring for her parents at the end of their lives. “I can do anything, as long as I’m busy,” she said. We’ve found that to be true. We’re keeping Jen very busy, and she handles everything we’ve asked her to do, and it’s been a lot.
When she’s not at GrandCare, her focus is on “family, family, family.” She loves to travel. Her youngest is a U.S. Marine, so whenever she can find a cheap flight, she flies to wherever he’s stationed. She’s also an avid camper. She and her husband help to manage a local campground called Timber Trail Campground during the summer. “Camping is our second family. Sometimes we stay there for the whole summer.”
We’re looking forward to the day when we can officially welcome Jen onboard with our signature employee onboarding at West Bend Tap and Tavern (conveniently located next door.) Until then, we’ll exchange many Slack messages and continue to have fruitful Zoom conversations. Welcome to the GrandCare family Jen and buckle up, it’s going to be a fun adventure!
Click here to meet the whole GrandCare team!
The day will come, hopefully soon, when this pandemic is behind us. When it is, will you be ready with a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform?
The use of telehealth for senior health care visits has soared this year, from a low of just a fraction of one percent (0.1%) of Medicare primary visits in February of 2020 to almost half of all visits (43.5%) in April, just two months later. Safety is one obvious reason for this surge. But what made it even possible is that the federal government drastically reduced HIPAA restrictions on telehealth visits. Suddenly, anyone with Zoom could, and did, use it for health care visits, without worries about the repercussions of HIPAA data breaches.
The good news is that this effort to ensure access to health services has had the desired effect of helping seniors, who are especially at risk of the more serious effects of COVID, to shelter in place without sacrificing their health care. And, in fact, both patients and health care providers have seen the long-term benefits of moving many services to telehealth.
The bad news is that this relaxation of HIPAA enforcement won’t last forever. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces HIPAA, issued the Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency, which waives many HIPAA requirements for telehealth visits. Specifically, “Covered health care providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules that occur in the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).
The HIPAA waiver is set to last as long as the publicly declared National Health Emergency, which is currently set to expire in January, 2021. As long as the federal government continues to prioritize COVID as a national priority, and US Health Secretary Alexa Azar continues to extend the National Health Emergency, the HIPAA waiver will continue. It will not be forever, and it may even be for very much longer. And that’s why this question is so important. Are you ready?
The only way to continue using telehealth for visits in a post-COVID world is to start looking for a HIPAA-compliant solution, the sooner the better.
GrandCare is one such solution. It is a remote monitoring and communications platform for seniors. It’s a proven solution that has been on the market since 2005. GrandCare’s large, simple touch appliance and home health care program helps professional caregivers and families to have HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, send messages, and monitor a loved one’s health & safety. It’s been adopted by senior communities, home health care providers, healthcare payors, disability providers, and even individual families.
Find out more about GrandCare at www.grandcare.com or call us 262-338-6147
Choosing the right community– My search for a technology solution and how GrandCare helped Mom during COVID
In 2012, I moved my parents out of their home and into an assisted-living community. This was a whole new world for all of us — lots of learning and experimenting. The community did offer pendants for residents to press when they needed something (anything) from a caregiver. My mom was never known for her patience. And my dad was struggling with the onset of dementia; so, the pendant was never satisfying for a wide variety of reasons, including the time it took for my mother to press the pendant and for someone to check on her. We brought in our own caregivers to supplement what we were receiving in the community and provide a more enriching life for my parents.
Three years later, after starting a Family Council at the community but becoming frustrated at the lack of responsiveness and level of care, we moved both of my parents to another community. My father moved upstairs to memory care, where he died shortly thereafter. Again, my mom was given a pendant and again she was frustrated by it for the same reasons. But, the community overall was better staffed, my mother had adjusted to the idea of being in assisted-care, as we had. But, as often happens, management changed at the community. It was owned by a private-equity firm who brought in a different company to manage it; and, not surprisingly, their first order of business was to reduce costs, which meant reducing care. We quickly moved again.
So, at the end of 2019, my mom — together with a good friend she met at the previous community — moved to a new one. I liked almost everything better about this facility except for one thing: no pendants. Instead, they had a pull cord in a few places in the room, though my wheelchair-bound mother couldn’t reach the cords and, as she was cognitively in decline, she would forget those options were there for her.
That’s when I went searching for a solution
I was recommended to personally contact the CEO of GrandCare, which right away made me more interested. At this point in my family caregiving role, I learned that personal recommendations are often particularly fruitful and — more so — if a CEO of a tech company is willing to speak with a customer, that speaks to how much they care and want to learn how even better serve those in need. We placed an order for the GrandCare system. When it arrived, a customer-service team member quickly and easily walked me through set up — both the hardware and the app on my phone. Finally, I could check in with my mother without her needing to carry a cellphone (and remembering to have it near her, listen for it, and answer it), which had become increasingly difficult.
For all of these now seven-plus years that my mom had been in assisted living, I was able to visit her almost daily. But then, Covid hit and the world changed. How fortunate I was to be able not only to speak with my mother, but to see her and observe her care. I was the often “third person in the room,” as my mother was being cared for by individuals she didn’t recognize because they were now wearing masks. The closeness with my mother that I was about to virtually achieve with GrandCare, as well as many of the additional features the system offered, was exactly what we needed and continue to need. I don’t really know what I would have done without it, except to feel as if I’m no longer connected and far less informed.
Anytime we had a question about the system or additional functionality, GrandCare would jump on a call. And during the course of the past many months, I’ve even suggested a few minor tweaks to the system, which their tech people not only appreciated but implemented. Thank you, GrandCare.
– Peter, son of a GrandCare user
GrandCare to Speak on Independent Living Solutions at Connected Health Summit: Consumer Engagement and Innovation
Remote patient monitoring and virtual caregiving technology pioneer GrandCare Systems announced that their CEO, Laura Mitchell, will be speaking this week at the virtual 2020 Connected Health Summit: Consumer Engagement and Innovation, held September 1-3.
The Connected Health Summit, hosted by research firm Parks Associates, provides industry players with in-depth analysis on the implications of the connected healthcare revolution – and the resulting consumerization of healthcare – for multiple industries: broadband service providers, retailers, device makers and distributors, and health systems and providers.
This year has provided unprecedented challenges and new opportunities for the independent living, senior housing and healthcare industry. “COVID has presented some unique opportunities for innovation to eliminate the struggles seniors and the disability population are facing during these times,” said GrandCare CEO, Laura Mitchell. “Before the pandemic, technology was only a ‘nice to have,’ but now it’s essential. I believe this will be a permanent change in how we deliver care.”
Independent Living Solutions: Adapting to Market Acceleration
Tuesday, September 2, 11am CT
Track: COVID-19 exposed the vulnerability of our senior population. In addition to the high risks of infection, the necessity of social distancing exacerbates seniors’ social isolation and makes family caregivers’ jobs even more difficult. Demand for communication, telehealth, and independent living solutions to assist seniors in living well and safely at home has never been greater. This session explores how service and technology providers are responding to this new demand and what the independent living market will look like coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.
Chuck Hector, Chief Revenue Officer, Papa
Sarah Jones, Vice President, Commercial Product, Best Buy Health
Laura Mitchell, CEO, GrandCare Systems
Kian Saneii, CEO, Independa
Jennifer Kent, Senior Director, Parks Associates
The 7th-annual Connected Health Summit will take place virtually September 1–3, 2020. www.connectedhealthsummit.com. To register visit, http://www.parksassociates.com/events/connected-health/register. Follow the conference on Twitter at @CONN_Health_Smt and #CONNHealth20.
ABOUT GRANDCARE SYSTEMS
GrandCare, on the market since 2005, is designed to reduce hospitalizations, manage health conditions and keep individuals more independent and connected to their loved ones. The heart of GrandCare is a large touchscreen appliance, which provides the individual with social communications, games, music, instructions, reminders and medication prompts. Optional telehealth & activity devices can wirelessly report information and remotely send email, text and phone alerts to caregivers if something seems amiss. No computer skills are needed for the resident. GrandCare is utilized by family caregivers, professional in-home care organizations, senior housing communities and disability providers. For more information, visit: www.grandcare.com, call 262-338-6147, or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT CONNECTED HEALTH SUMMIT
Connected Health Summit: Consumer Engagement and Innovation is a three-day executive conference focused on the impact of connected devices and IoT healthcare solutions on consumers at home. Connected Health Summit anticipates increasing demand for both clinical and consumer health and wellness solutions aimed at improving the quality of life for people living and seeking support at home. The expansion of connected medical devices and telehealth services into the home, as well as the increasing movement of connected consumer devices into health and wellness, is growing new markets for independent living solutions that serve the elderly, patients with chronic conditions, rural households, and caretakers. Subscribe to Parks Associates’ digital health newsletter at http://www.parksassociates.com/newsletters_subscribe.
Proactive versus reactive care is something that unfortunately too often becomes a hindsight 20/20 revelation for some elderly patients and their families. “If only we had known…” they would say. The truth is technology these days is not just good, it’s really good. Better than it was even just a few short years ago. The thing about technology is that it is always changing, evolving, and getting more sophisticated. That’s not to say that it is getting more complicated necessarily, in fact, in many cases the technology is actually getting easier to use. More hands free. Requiring even less for the user to do manually, with the advent of voice recognition, smart watches, and even artificially intelligent computers.
I mean, just a few years ago, it would have seemed unfathomable to think that you could talk into your phone, tablet, or computer to ask it a simple question and actually expect to get an intelligent response. Today, we can ask something as simple as “do I need an umbrella today?” and our technology device will actually give us a resonable answer related to our local weather report.
The same holds true for technology advancements in healthcare with virtual care services, and personal health/fitness monitoring devices. But did you know that there is even more advanced technology out there that is designed to help prevent hospitalizations, manage chronic conditions, and track daily activities, all to keep the elderly and disabled living independently for as long as possible in order to postpone the need for long-term care?
Introducing the grandCARE system. We provide a technology solution that benefits seniors, family caregivers, and professional senior care workers alike. It starts with our innovative touchscreen interface which has been carefully designed with the end-user in mind. It features large, easy-to-read icons and can be fully customized to include as few or as many menu options as desired. The platform is so intuitive to use, that no previous computer experience is required to enjoy.
The touchscreen can be use as key source of socialization, entertainment, and communication for the senior user with our integrated family Facebook photo sharing, video chatting, games, websites, news, weather and more available options.
Next, our passive activity and motion monitoring is an effective and unintrusive way to analyze patterns of behavior to become more aware when something isn’t quite right. Our sensors can detect when there is too much, too little or no motion, and alert when something out of the ordinary occurs. The alert rules can be established to send out a message by phone call, text, or email to one or multiple designated parties.
At grandCARE, we believe in not only helping seniors stay independent, but strive to enable them the ability to proactively manage their own health and wellness too. This is why we have available digital medical devices to take important health vital readings digitally using our innovative system. The data is captured on the system, and stored on our secure servers making the information accessible at anytime to a family member or professional care manager using our online based care portal. The information can be reviewed in report or chart format, and even exported as a PDF to send to a professional health care provider as well.
A recent article by Maryalene LaPonsie, featured in the U.S. News and World Report provides more support for the benefits that technology can have with seniors, families, and those in the long-term care industry.
For those who want to maximize their peace of mind, Gomez says the Cadillac of virtual long-term care is a remote-monitoring system like that offered by grandCARE.
With this system, activity sensors are placed in a senior’s home. To use grandCARE, Managed Senior Care first evaluates what a typical “good day” looks like for a senior and sets alerts accordingly. For example, if a senior typically has breakfast by 9 a.m. and the refrigerator hasn’t been opened by that time, an alert may go out to a caregiver.
As with Banner iCare, seniors using the grandCARE system are set up with a tablet. In this case, it’s an oversized tablet that can be remotely activated. If a caregiver needs to check on a senior, he or she can open Skype which will activate the camera and microphone on the tablet. At that point, the caregiver can look for the senior and call out to him or her to determine whether help is needed.
“One of the reasons we like this product is because it’s respectful of the senior,” Gomez says. “You know when people are watching. There is no secret monitoring.”
The article goes on to show how virtual care services are having an impact with both cost savings and patient outcomes:
“We save over $4,000 per patient per year and avoid hospital visits and readmissions,” Herzog says. From 2013 to 2014, Banner Health tracked the outcomes of newly enrolled Banner iCare members and compared that to claims data from the year before their enrollment. They found the program resulted in an overall 27 percent cost savings of $788 per patient per month. Hospitalizations also dropped from 11.5 per 100 patients per month in the year prior to enrollment to 6.3 per 100 patients per month six months after enrollment.
So, going back to where we started…”if only we had known.” Well, now you do.
There is no definite timeframe as to when the COVID-19 virus will have subsided and when it will be safe to spend significant amounts of time out in public again. Because people want to preserve their health and avoid public places as much as possible, people are choosing to continue to quarantine for the foreseeable future, especially the elderly.
The COVID-19 virus is unlike anything the world has ever seen, and because of that, people don’t know what to expect when it comes to what’s next in regards to this infectious illness. As people are taking the necessary precautions, specifically seniors, they are growing bored of sitting at home and doing the same thing they have been doing since March. In fact, an expert from a company that handles in-home senior care said that seniors are also beginning to feel isolated while self-quarantining. This post will detail the top 3 ways that seniors can stay connected while also staying entertained while in quarantine.
Ways for Seniors to Entertain Themselves at Home
Seniors are at the most risk of the COVID-19 virus so it’s important that they do all that they can to preserve their health, even if that means quarantining a little bit longer than the rest of the world. If you are a senior and are choosing to preserve your health by staying at home, here are three ways that you can keep your mind occupied while still staying connected to the outside world.
Utilize Video Chatting
Video Chatting is perhaps the best and easiest way for seniors to stay connected to friends and family while in quarantine. Video chatting can be done on a computer, phone, or tablet, making it easily accessible for seniors. Some ways that seniors can call friends and family include:
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Hangouts
- A video chatting device designed for seniors, like GrandCare Systems
If you are a senior, you should schedule times with different loved ones as this will give you something to look forward to. Video chatting will also be beneficial to your life even after you no longer have to quarantine as it is a way to catch up with friends and family that don’t live close by.
Join a Virtual Book Club
Building off of the idea of video chatting, consider joining or starting a virtual book club. Virtual book clubs are exactly what they sound like, book clubs that meet online via a video chat. There are countless online book clubs that you can join, or you can start your own informal one. Consider calling friends and family, especially those that are also continuing to self-quarantine, and ask them if they are interested in reading the same book and meet once or a few times a week to discuss it.
Virtual book clubs will give you something to look forward to every few days and will give you the incentive to read- a great way to keep your mind occupied while stuck at home. Choose a book based on your personal interests so that you look forward to reading it.
Play Online Games
Many seniors never consider playing online games as a way to stay connected and occupied. However, online games are an outstanding pastime for aging adults who are trying to limit their public presence as much as possible. Seniors can play games on Facebook, on the internet, on apps, and even on various gaming systems such as PlayStation and Xbox. Some online games (or online versions of games) that are popular amongst the older generation include:
- Words with Friends
- Animal Crossing
- Family Feud
- League of Legends
Online games will keep seniors entertained since there are thousands to choose from, and they can also play against or on teams with friends and family. Seniors that are choosing to quarantine and are considering playing online games should consider playing with grandchildren. This will give them the opportunity to be able to bond with their grandchildren in a unique way and stay busy while doing so.
Staying Healthy While Also Staying Connected
It’s important to keep the mind occupied while quarantining, especially for seniors since they will likely have to quarantine for longer than the younger generation who is not at as much of a risk of COVID-19. Keeping the mind occupied will not only have a great impact on one’s happiness, but it could also positively impact a person’s overall mental health. If you are a senior, keep these suggestions in mind as you consider other ways to entertain yourself. Or, if you are not a senior but have a senior in your life, suggest these activities to him or her and try to be a part of them.
About the Author
Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.