GrandCare Builds Emotional Elements Into High-Tech Caregiving
This was the easy part: Creating a system that monitors, communicates, updates, assists and notifies a homecare client’s status — wirelessly — and is operated by people without significant technological experience. The system can do everything from report blood pressure and indoor temperature to sending photographs and medication reminders to coordinating schedules with family members and printing out graphs for doctor visits.
The hard part is marketing it.
Laura Mitchell, the director of business relations of GrandCare Systems in West Bend, WI, tells Selling to Seniors that “as with any technology or any service, you really are marketing to two different demographics: you’ve got the boomers who are most likely making the [purchasing] decision and you’ve got the senior who might be paying for it. Really you have a ‘triple sale’ going on: selling to one demographic then the other and then get them together on how this is going to work.”
GrandCare uses a combination of remote environmental sensing, passive physiological sensing, artificial intelligence and networking technologies to provide caregivers the ability to remotely and passively monitor a client or loved one without compromising dignity or privacy. It’s an impressive use of modern technology, and its touch panel controls are designed to be used by those with little experience using a computer, or even by those with memory issues.
Caregivers log into the system via Internet from anywhere in the world and can see, for example, if the client has lost weight in the last few days or if they’ve been to bed lately. They can also send images and messages to the client via the television. The variations of monitoring are nearly endless.
A Coming ‘Tsunami’ in Home Care Technology
It sounds like the ultimate “smart house.”
“But we’ve taken it one step further and really focused on the mental and spiritual and familial activity in their well being,” says Mitchell. “Not only should they keep their minds active but we also think it’s important to stay in touch with family members wherever they are. Email, Facebook, Skype — we enable the seniors to use all this technology without having to know anything about it.”
The system is entirely customizable and can be scaled up or down, and prices range accordingly. Local dealers perform care assessment and installation, and Mitchell says costs are about $15 to $25 a day. The average cost of skilled nursing, she points out, is $200 a day, and 24-hour in-home care can get up to $600 a day.
Since the product’s launch at the end of 2006, GrandCare has promoted the system using “a lot of guerilla marketing,” Mitchell says. “A lot of social networking, a lot of trade shows and press releases, presentations at places we think adult children may be at. We don’t do a whole of paid advertising.”
Meanwhile, Mitchell networks with others in the field and is a founding board member of the Aging Technology Alliance, a consortium of home tech companies. For the last two years she has hosted a weekly aging and technology webinar featuring others from the industry.
“The idea is the aging tsunami will float all the boats, so let’s work together,” she says.
Info: Professional caregivers and private homes can contact GrandCare at https://www.grandcare.com/page/contact_us. Laura Mitchell addresses the NAHB’s Home Technology Alliance and CEDIA in a free Webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. EDT; see www1.gotomeeting.com/register/940457584 for registration information. The Aging Technology Alliance can be found at http://web.me.com/pradsliff/Aging_Technology_Alliance/Home.html. A list of upcoming Webinars hosted by Mitchell is at http://grandcare.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/upcoming-aging-tech-webinar-topics-mark-your-calendar.
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