Essence USA looking beyond the panic button with PERS

Powered by an analytics engine, the company’s new in-home PERS unit aims to give central stations a more complete picture of behavioral patterns and health trends
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA, believes PERS units need to become smarter, more intuitive and better able to transmit information passively. In short, they need to become less reliant on the human factor that comes with hitting a pendant. Devices best able to accomplish this, he says, will become differentiators for central stations.

Essence USA, a developer of security and monitoring solutions based here, recently launched an in-home PERS suite that aligns with Amir’s beliefs about what the PERS product of the future should be.

The Care@Home suite, which debuted at the Medical Alert Monitoring Association spring meeting, is powered by an intelligent algorithm and analytics engine intended to alert monitoring companies or caregivers about possible health deterioration or emergency scenarios.  

“When you talk about a solid in-home PERS solution, your focus is on additional features on top of just the panic button,” Amir said, mentioning smoke detectors and extreme temperature sensors as potential RMR add-ons.

Monitoring companies, Amir noted, face several key RMR-based challenges that a well-conceived in-home PERS unit can help address. One of those challenges, he says, is that traditional PERS units tend to have, on average, about a 30-month lifespan in the market before the system needs to be redeployed. That’s a considerably shorter time in the market than a typical security solution, Amir said, so a PERS product has to be designed with an eye toward maximizing account life.

Another issue, he said, has to do with the basic value proposition of PERS devices—particularly its longstanding reliance on panic buttons. While Amir believes panic buttons with professional monitoring have earned a reliable reputation and will remain a crucial component of any home unit, they aren’t always effective in every scenario.

“When someone gets an [in-home] PERS device, they kind of declare, at least to themselves, that they’ve lost their independence,” Amir said. This sense of dependence, he said, can actually make customers more prone to leave pendants behind or off their person, so that “when the time comes, it doesn’t function, because it’s not accessible to the person who actually needs to press the button.”

That’s why panic buttons need to be complemented by passive, automated functionalities that give monitoring centers or caregivers a more complete picture of the behavioral patterns and health of an elderly person, Amir explained. He said the Care@Home system looks at “daily behavior and trends as well as changes from those trends.”

The most urgent signals—such as panic signals or extreme weather or temperature warnings—are sent to the monitoring center by default, while less urgent information signals are directed to caregivers, Amir noted.

Amir believes behavioral monitoring functions can play a pivotal role in prolonging the life of an account.

“Now that the family has daily access to information from the system, what they are paying for becomes tangible, which will likely lead to keeping the service active,” Amir said. “It’s no longer a product that sits idle for months or even years and maybe gets used once some time in the future.”