Tag Archive for: Lisa Montgomery

Computers Important to Home Health Tech – by Electronic House Magazine

Using technology to care for an aging loved one is simpler than you might think. Sometimes it just takes a PC.

With healthcare costs spiraling out of control, a number of forward-thinking electronics manufacturers are developing solutions that enable a person’s health and wellness to be monitored and managed electronically from the comfort of their homes.

But as a few key industry experts pointed out at a recent educational session at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association Expo (CEDIA) in Atlanta, often it’s the simple technologies, like a basic computer and Internet access, that can make the biggest impact in a aging or disabled person’s life.

“You can monitor the heck out of mom and dad, but if they aren’t engaged and enjoying life what’s the point,” said Jack York, CEO of It’s Never Too Late (www.in2l.com), a Centennial, Colo.–based organization that customizes computer systems for senior care centers across the U.S.

Often, the computers are designed with built-in touchscreens, adaptive devices for those with physical or cognitive difficulties and picture-based interfaces for launching applications. As York, explained, a computer with Internet access help an aging loved-on connect friends, family and their community; exercise their mind; and find real purpose in their lives. “Socialization is the real Trojan horse of the home health technology industry,” added fellow panelist Charlie Hillman, CEO of GrandCare Systems (www.grandcaresystems.com).

As reported by myoptumhealth.com, the top uses of the Internet by people 73 and older are online searches, including news, product research and financial information; email and phone sharing with friends and family; research on health and medical topics.

Realizing the importance of technology to the age-in-place population, a number of home systems installers have spun off home health tech divisions from their core installation businesses. Eric Crawford, president of Home Theater & Automation, Meridian, Idaho, for example, uses the security sensors and control processors from his current portfolio of Control4 products to create his own monitoring systems.

Paul Ebaugh of CyberNet Solutions, Commerce Township, Mich., has taken a slightly different approach. After seven years of installing sophisticated audio/video, automation and security systems into clients’ homes, Ebaugh launched a new division within his company to cater exclusively to the age-in-place market. Called Elderwatch, the company’s core product is the Grand Care System. “It has all the tools necessary for health and wellness—things that standard automation systems can’t really do,” he says. When necessary, though, Ebaugh can always pull from his old bag of CyberNet products, combining the Grand Care System with video surveillance, security and automation devices.

The New Wave of Home Healthcare

Electronic House Reports:

Electronic systems allow seniors to age comfortably and safely in their own homes.

Jul. 30, 2010 — by Lisa Montgomery

Talk to just about anybody, and they’ll have a story to share about an aging loved one. Often, those stories are punctuated with feelings of worry, guilt and uncertainty over how to best care for their elderly parent or friend.

Recently, a number of up-and-coming electronics manufacturers have developed a variety of technologies aimed squarely at this growing market of concerned caregivers. The solutions, they hope, will afford seniors the means to lead an independent life at home while giving their family members the assurance that all is well.

According to healthcare statistics, the timing couldn’t be better. In a June 2009 report from the AARP Policy Institute, the population of people 65 or older is projected to grow by 89 percent between 2007 and 2030, more than four times faster than the population overall. The aging population will skyrocket by another 118 percent between the years 2030 and 2050.

“The silver tsunami is coming,” says Laura Mitchell, director of business relations at Grand Care Systems, a manufacturer of monitoring systems for seniors. “As the generation of baby boomers grows older, we simply won’t have the resources—facilities or manpower—to adequately take care of our aging population, unless we invest in the development of digital home healthcare technology.”

Factor in the astronomical costs of long-term care, and it’s easy to see why some healthcare analysts believe the digital home healthcare industry will grow from a $2 billion business to a $20 billion industry by 2020. (Click here to view a slideshow of digital home healthcare products.)

Innovative Start-ups
Like any emerging industry, the digital home healthcare market today consists mainly of small start-up companies, although big names like GE, Intel and Philips are major players as well (see sidebar). Little synergy exists between the manufacturers, resulting in an industry that’s “somewhat chaotic right now,” says Laurie Orlov of market research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch.

“Products that should probably be sold together as a package are being sold separately, and pricing is all over the board.” Still, the technologies available are innovative, affordable and—most importantly—cater to the needs of both stay-at-home seniors and the people who care for them.

To gain a clearer sense of some of the solutions gaining steam, Orlov divides digital home healthcare products and systems into four main categories: safety and security, communication and engagement, health and wellness, and learning and contribution. Although technologies that help seniors stay mentally sharp are important, the systems and products that fall under the first three categories are expected to have the biggest impact on the aging-at-home lifestyle.

Safety and Security
The home safety and security market is driven largely by companies with systems designed to monitor the activities of an individual and report those findings to a preselected group of people. Personal emergency response system (PERS) devices, which typically alert caregivers of a critical situation after it has occurred, are one example of this type of product. However, today’s breed of alert systems focus on more on preventing and mitigating problems than sending out an S.O.S. Referred to as ADL (activities of daily living) monitoring systems, they employ a combination of small, unobtrusive wireless environmental sensors, a networking base unit, specially configured software, and the Internet to communicate to caregivers the daily routines of their elderly stay-at-home parents. The sensors and networking unit capture information about the person’s movement throughout the day and distribute it to a secure web server, where the software analyzes and organizes the data. Invited caregivers can then log on to review the recorded information. They can also receive instant alerts via email or text when specified sensors are tripped or if no activity has been recorded within a certain period of time…

Read more: http://www.electronichouse.com/article/the_new_wave_of_home_healthcare/C155