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Report: More monitoring for mHealth devices

Perceptions about PERS users are something to overcome

LONDON—The market for monitored mHealth devices is on the rise globally from 2016 to 2021, and North America will be the largest market in the forecast period.

Apple Watch SOS and mPERS: Apples and oranges?

PERS execs compare features, assess competition

YARMOUTH, Maine—On first inspection, the Apple Watch’s newly announced ‘SOS’ feature may seem similar to an mPERS device, but PERS experts who spoke to Security Systems News said comparing an Apple Watch with an mPERS device is like comparing apples and oranges.

Connect America expands in Kansas

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Connect America, a multi-channel PERS and home medical distribution company based here, is growing its market presence in the central U.S. with its recent acquisition of Home Buddy, a Kansas based PERS and medical solution provider with about 4,000 subscribers.

“The goal is to grow that geography into Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa … to create a large regional base of operations for the business,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

Home Buddy has been in business for about 10 years, Brooks said. “It’s one of the largest providers of PERS in Kansas.”

While Home Buddy does not deal with alarm dealers, Connect America does, buying PERS accounts from a network of Alarm Dealers across the country, according to Brooks. “They’re a steady, reliable part of our business,” he said. Home Buddy distributes through “Medicaid-type agencies,” he said.

Discussions of the acquisition between the two companies started in late 2015, he said, and the deal closed in early May. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Connect America intends to keep the Home Buddy name, Brooks said, because its well known in the area and has existing contracts under that name.

Brooks said that his main goal with the company is building its healthcare division. “We grow organically, we have a sales force nationally, and they are locally meeting people to obtain referrals for our medical alerts,” he said.

Will Apple take bite out of the PERS market?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Apple recently announced a new ‘SOS’ feature coming to the Apple Watch—similar to a PERS device.

If an Apple Watch user holds down the device’s side button, emergency services local to that user’s location will be notified, as well as emergency contacts.

I spoke with former Numera CEO, current Group VP of the Nortek Innovations & Incubation Foundry, about how the Nortek offerings compare to the announced features of the Apple Watch SOS. He said one particular differentiator for Nortek is "the advanced fall detection capabilities. In order to have highly reliable fall detection, you need to have something around your torso."

Smokoff noted the difference in battery life. The Apple Watch lasts about 18 hours and the Libris mPERS device lasts “about 2-and-a-half days on average,” he said.

There is a gap in price between the Apple Watch, which needs an iPhone to work, and the Libris mPERS device which stands alone and costs less than the Apple Watch by itself.

While I’ve heard of new and emerging markets for personal emergency devices—such as hikers, lone workers or for college campus safety—many of the PERS and mPERS companies I’ve spoken with point to the aging-in-place market as the market’s main demographic.

It seems to me that there are several reasons why the Apple Watch SOS feature wouldn’t break into the aging-in-place market. Firstly, both the Apple Watch and the user’s iPhone need to be charged and both devices need to be near each other.

Second, older PERS or mPERS users may not be as comfortable with technology and, therefore, less likely to own and operate an iPhone in conjunction with an Apple Watch.

Should people take notice of Apple’s entrance in the market? Will Apple take customers away from dealers in the PERS and mPERS space? If you have any thoughts, feel free to email me:

Dynamark enters mPERS

Trey Alter: Company will support dealers as they need

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Dynamark has entered the mPERS space, working with Numera and the Libris device, and introduced a new mPERS program to its dealers.

Catalyst offers advice to prospective PERS dealers

Affiliated Monitoring’s new conference gives attendees ideas for starting or bettering a PERS business

NAPLES, Fla.—Attendees at Affiliated Monitoring’s Catalyst conference walked away with advice on how to start or advance a PERS business, such as devoting resources specifically to PERS sales and marketing and understanding which technology to sell.

Numera releases new line of wearables

Wearables aims to make Libris users more comfortable

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Numera’s new line of wearables is designed to be used by Libris mPERS users when they’re  at home.

What differentiates a PERS central?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I’ve spoken with plenty of monitoring professionals about the difference between monitoring a PERS signal and a more traditional burg or fire alarm. Recently, I spoke with Todd Lindstrom, director of Life Safety Monitoring, about some of the things that differentiate the company's PERS-focused central station. 

Lindstrom said that PERS operators need to be segmented from operators that handle more traditional alarms because the mindset is different. “You tend to be more production orientated when you’re doing the burg/fire, … [focused on] speed, how they handle the call, how many calls they handled,” he said. “Here, we’re on the call a lot longer, because you’ve got patients that may not hear well, [or] they’re a little confused.”

The company has been doing more wellness calls with its users, Lindstrom said. “We call and ask them a few basic questions; if they’ve taken their meds, or how they’re feeling today.” Life Safety Monitoring has been doing these calls for about a year-and-a-half, he said.

Plans for wellness calls could include calls once a week, once a day or twice a day, he said. “It makes a son or daughter more comfortable to know that someone’s calling,” said Lindstrom.

These calls could be linked to activity tracking platforms, “If somebody doesn’t pass down a hallway … Then we’ll call and check, and if we don’t get a response then we’ll send somebody.” The company is currently working on integrating the Numera Libris in the next 30 days, he said. Particularly, the company is interested in the device's fall detection abilities. 

He said that activity monitoring platforms help with the quality of care, such as tracking items users might forget, like how many times they got up during the night.

Lindstrom said that only about 1 percent of the company’s monitored accounts are mPERS devices, but expects this segment will grow to 10 percent in the next year or 18 months. MPERS are good for a segment of users that like to spend the winter months in warmer climates, “Now, they don’t have to drag that stationary device.”

Life Safety Monitoring has 16 operators and monitors about 10,000 accounts, he said. 

Numera releases new wearable line

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Numera this week announced a new selection of wearables to complement its Libris mPERS device while users are at home.

The center of this announcement is the new Smart Cradle, which connects the Libris device with the new wearables while charging the mPERS, Anu Herranen, marketing manager for Nortek Security and Control, told SSN. 

The new wearables include a Fall Detection Pendant, a Convertible Help Button which can be worn as a pendant or on the wrist, and a Simple Help Button Pendant.

Herranen said that a noticable difference between the Fall Detection Pendant and the Libris device is their weight. The Libris is about 2.1 ounces, she said; the Fall Detection Pendent only weighs about half an ounce. The pendant is also 40 percent smaller by dimensions.

She said the two biggest benefits for end users are the ability to have a personal safety device while the Libris is charging and the option for a more comfortable device while around the house.

“[Users] can leave their Libris in its Smart Cradle, because all of the mobile PERS devices do have a battery that needs to be charged, … and they are still equally protected,” she said. The Libris has a battery life of 36 hours, she said, while the wearables’ batteries last for several years.

The new wearables also continue to track users in the EverThere program. “The Smart Cradle connected with any of the wearables provides exactly the same experience in EverThere that we do in the Libris device.” The Smart Cradle is also upgradable, via Over-The-Air software updates.

Herranen said that the ability to wear a help button on the wrist is new for the Libris offering. She said the wrist-worn help button was specifically designed for wear during sleep.

The Libris still has features that the new wearables don’t, such as voice capabilities and GPS location.