Senior Care Technology Review: New Aging in Place Products, Platforms, & Apps

Technology to facilitate aging in place—whether in the home or in a senior living community setting—continues to make strides, evidenced in this round-up that features a mobile app for caregivers to coordinate care, a new fall-prevention and PERS platform, and a home safety telephone system marketed as an affordable PERS alternative. Also in the news is a federal report faulting Medicare for being vulnerable to fraud and abuse in its shift to implementing electronic medical records, while two health information exchanges seek to prove their benefits ahead of federal funding running out. Read on:

1. Philips: Mobile App Allows Caregivers to Coordinate Care

Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG) recently released CarePartners Mobile, a new mobile app designed to help family caregivers coordinate care for their loved ones. 


“CarePartners Mobile allows people to spend more time caregiving, and less time trying to determine what needs to be done and who is doing it,” said Mark Sabalauskas, senior product manager, Philips Lifeline. “The app also taps in to the growing trend of using mobile technology to communicate, organize our lives and improve our health. As this trend continues to grow, Philips is leading the way, providing services where and how they are most effectively delivered.”

The free app, which is available for iPhone and Android, streamlines care coordination, and enables caregivers to create, manage, and view upcoming caregiving tasks using a shared to-do list, assign tasks to individuals and see what tasks still need volunteers, and syncs tasks they’re responsible for directly to smartphone calendars, among other functions. 

2. SearchHealthIT: Health Information Exchange Benefits Paper-Bound Nursing Homes


“Two health information exchanges—The Great Lakes HIE in Michigan and the Keystone HIE in Pennsylvania—are throwing technology at a major meaningful use policy paradox that affects vulnerable, elderly patients at the worst possible times. By doing so, they could be demonstrating the type of health information exchange benefits that privately and publicly funded HIEs have been seeking in order to prove their economic viability as federal grants are due to expire,” writes SearchHealthIT. “Nursing homes were left out of federal EHR incentives, but they’re the parties who typically hold their patients’ up-to-date advance directives. When these patients—some of them incapable of making their own health care decisions—get ambulanced to hospitals or go to doctors’ offices for treatments, their caregivers are required to collect advance directives from 50% of patients, per the stage 2 meaningful use criteria.” Read more

3. New York Times: Medicare Faulted on Shift to Electronic Records

“The conversion to electronic medical records—a critical piece of the Obama administration’s plan for health care reform—is “vulnerable” to fraud and abuse because of the failure of Medicare officials to develop appropriate safeguards, according to a sharply critical report to be issued Thursday by federal investigators,” reports The New York Times. “…the report says Medicare, which is charged with managing the incentive program that encourages the adoption of electronic records, has failed to put in place adequate safeguards to ensure that information being provided by hospitals and doctors about their electronic records systems is accurate.” Read more

4. Care Technology Systems: New Fall-Prevention Platform

Care Technology Systems, Inc.’s newest product offering is an Active-PERS device that has been added to its Fall Detection by Logic System. 

The new pendant can help caregivers respond to falls in a timelier fashion, even if the senior fails or is unable to press the pendant’s alert button. Here’s how it works: 

“While standard PERS requires the user to push a button to notify caregivers of a fall, we know that in 83% of the times a senior who uses PERS isn’t wearing their pendant, and can’t alert others when they’ve fallen,” said Jim Anderson, founder and president of Care Technology Systems. “So, we’ve integrated an accelerometer that actively monitors senior activity as a part of a larger alert system and can tell us whether a fall has occurred and automatically summon help.”

The system also can receive activity information from the device on a regular basis, called Motion Scoring, that can track patterns to help predict falls and thus prevent them. This could result in significant healthcare cost savings, Care Technology Systems believes, especially as hospitalization costs for falls average around $17,500, according to recent statistics. 

5. VTech: CareLine Phone System for Independent Senior Living

VTech Communications, a subsidiary of VTech Holdings Ltd. (HKSE:303), recently introduced the CareLine home safety telephone system meant for seniors still living at home. The system’s features are designed to meet seniors’ daily communication needs and include large displays, reminder capabilities, volume boost, and a wearable pendant with one-button dialing that directly calls people that seniors communicate with most. VTech is marketing the system as an affordable alternative to a PERS (personal emergency response system). 

The pendant allows users to make and receive calls, listen to voicemail messages, review missed calls, confirm the date and time or receive programmed reminders for medication, appointments, or other events. The user or a family member can set reminders directly through the corded phone base or with a phone call; when it’s the set time, the system will remind the user with a light and audio cue. The pendant can also be used to get immediate emergency assistance. Users can press one of two speed-dial keys or use a voice command to call self-programmed contacts such as 911, a family member, or trusted friend or neighbor.