Sensor Technology May Enable Successful Ageing-in-Place and, Concomitantly, Increase Value in The Process

As life expectancy and the proportion of people aged 65 and over increase, and integrated care and cost containment become a concern to many health organizations and policy-makers, technologies that utilize sensors to come up with new and innovative ways to support the elderly successfully age-in-place are increasingly becoming commonplace.

A flurry of new start-up health tech companies, mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships are entering the data analytics and sensor space to support seniors well-being.  What once started as sensor networks in facilitated facilities and nursing homes are now moving into to every imaginable inanimate object in seniors private homes or apartments.

A recent partnership between Caremerge and Lively to create a platform to provide caregivers or family members with real-time alerts if something is wrong is one example.

Caremerge has a database of patient data from diagnoses, medications and allergies, and Lively develops passive movement sensors that can be placed in various spots in an elderly person’s home (i.e. the refrigerator, a pillbox, keychain, etc). So the cloud will be able notify caregivers when meals are eaten, medications are taken, if anyone leaves the house. More importantly, the platform can also notify caregivers if any disruption from a daily routine occurs. Although the partnership was announced relatively recently, they are in the process of taking in a few initial customers to test out their platform.

This business model is not unique for the vital sign monitoring and emergency detection space. Other similar ventures include: beclose, healthsense, and GrandCareSystems, among others.

Sensors to monitor vital signs need not be limited to being placed in inanimate objects. Research is underway to examine how to impant miniature sensors that can continuously monitor and report on a person’s health status.

Sensors introduce a whole wealth of data on patient behaviours that can be used to coordinate and integrate the management of care. So its no surprise that this space is seeing a lot of investment growth from traditional investors, but also from a growing number of large hospital networks and non-health IT companies.

The increasing trend in sensors and smart technology suggests that being monitored-all-the-time may soon become the norm for the elderly as they age. It may even spread to the non-elderly  after, as “Smart homes” may become standard.

The applications for sensors to enable successful ageing-in-place seem limitless!

With more than $7.4 billion for over 1,393 deals occurring in the Health IT space since 2010, according to Startup Health, it would not be far-fetched to expect more excitement and innovations in this area very soon.

Sources:

http://medcitynews.com/2014/02/caremerge-lively-partnership-will-marry-clinical-sensor-data-proactive-senior-care/#ixzz2t8Ofns1P

http://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/sensors

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