A tech startup that has raised $6 million is poised to make further inroads in senior living, thanks to results like those at Carlton Senior Living.
Concord, California-based Carlton utilized the new AI-enabled technology, called SafelyYou, to cut down on falls and visits to the emergency room among its memory care residents.
The senior living provider has deployed the software at seven of its 11 communities. Carlton has more than 200 memory care residents, 87% of which participate in the service. The standard is for SafelyYou to be used in Carlton’s memory care settings, unless the resident or their family opts out.
Carlton was able to reduce emergency medical services calls by 61% and cut down on falls among participating memory care residents by 31%. These results flow largely from the fact that SafelyYou — unlike similar offerings — is designed specifically for memory care settings, according to Allison Groves, Carlton’s memory care director.
“A lot of these other products are not geared toward people with dementia, and SafelyYou’s product is,” Groves told SHN.
SafelyYou is a real-time video service that monitors memory care residents via cameras they agree to place in their rooms. But there’s no human watching them, at least not at this stage in the process — instead, it’s an artificial intelligence program doing the passive monitoring. When the program detects a resident has fallen, it alerts onsite care staff who can visit the resident and later review a video recording of the incident with SafelyYou staffers.
SafelyYou can help give providers further insight into not only when, but how their memory care residents fall. This is important because, depending on their level of cognitive decline, some memory care residents who have fallen can’t always tell their caregivers what occurred or if they’re hurt.
When a memory care resident falls, providers often will send them to the emergency room as a precaution. That, in turn, has led to high costs for residents and their families. Falls are the leading cause of Alzheimer- and dementia–related hospitalizations, with $5.3 billion in annual costs to Medicare, according to 2016 numbers from the Alzheimer’s Association.
“When someone falls in memory care, they often can’t tell us what caused the fall or if they’re injured,” Groves said. “By seeing the footage, we’re able to reduce ER visits significantly.”
It’s not just Carlton Senior Living that saw results from the technology. A recent study published in The American Journal of Managed Care and backed by several SafelyYou stakeholders found that the tech company’s AI-enabled fall detection service cut the utilization of emergency services by 80%. The National Institute on Aging, which is a division of the National Institute on Health (NIH), funded the study.
And, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that a 40-resident memory care community in California also saw its fall rate drop after adopting SafelyYou.
Industry headwinds have battered the memory care sector in recent years, and although supply pressures are easing and occupancy is ticking up, any rebound will be gradual. Having technology in place that can help drive improved health outcomes could help some communities draw residents, and therefore get a leg up on the road to recovery.
Carlton, for instance, has some evidence that using SafelyYou helps attract new residents and keep the ones it has for longer. Prospective residents have even chosen to move into a Carlton community based on the fact that it employs SafelyYou, Groves said.
“We have seen some examples where people see the results and are moved by it,” she explained. “And, while we don’t have numbers yet, when you’re preventing that many ER visits, you’re absolutely affecting length of stay.”
SafelyYou began in 2014 as the doctorate research of CEO George Netscher at the UC Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab. Today, the company has raised $6 million, plus the company has been selected for $3 million in additional grant awards from the NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
SafelyYou currently witnesses about 2,000 falls among memory care residents each year. Looking ahead, Netscher would like to implement SafelyYou in more communities, and the company hired a chief technology officer and chief commercial officer last April to kick off its next phase of growth.
“Our bread and butter is the 24- to 36-bed memory care unit or standalone [community],” Netscher said. “The value is not about detecting the fall, it’s about seeing how it happened to someone who can’t tell you what happened.”