The Longevity Network’s LivePitch Wrap
Day 1 of AARP’s Innovation@50+ wrapped up yesterday afternoon when the Judge’s Choice and Audience Choice Awards for best Caregiving Healthcare Tech companies were named! If you want to watch the full competition with fast pitches and questions from the judges, check out our videos below.
Round 1 of the pitch competition:
Round 2 and the winners' annoucement:
Here’s a quick wrap on each of the pitches and the questions judges and audience members posed to the entrepreneurs, starting with the two winners.
Winner of the 2017 Judge’s Choice Award: GoGoGrandparent
Justin Boogaard, co-founder of GoGoGrandparent, tells the audience that existing on-demand transportation services like Uber or Lyft would be perfect for older adults, except for two major problems: 1) 70% of users over 65 don’t have a smart phone, which is a prerequisite for using them 2) aging leads to certain kinds of slowing down, which means older users would miss certain changes and problems with using those prevalent transportation providers. GoGoGrandparent solves both these issues by coordinating access to their services using landline call-ins and by tracking and verifying all those changes that an older adult might miss—meaning that up to 25% of their users end up speaking to a real person on the other end of the GoGoGrandparent line.
An AARP member of the audience asked how the company planned to control for older adults having more and more access to smartphones. Answer: There are two major problems their app solves—one is access and it’s true that one is changing. But the other is declining capability of the elderly to adapt to unforeseen changes, such as a driver canceling a ride on Uber. And that will continue to be a need, said Boogaard “until we solve aging”).
Winner of the 2017 Audience Choice Award: Siren Care
Ran Ma, co founder and CEO of Siren Care, told listeners that their mission is to create smart textiles to empower people. Their first product is a smart sock to help diabetics prevent ulcers and amputation. If Siren Care is right, “the only wearables you need are the clothes you wear everyday.” They started with a product for diabetics because there are over 400 people living with it, and because missing an injury leads to loss of independence and rising healthcare costs. The sensors are integrated into the fabric of the sock and the data is sent directly to the Siren app.
Judges asked about market differentiation. Answer: Many current socks for diabetics are compression socks, which only prevent edema. But research shows that only temperature monitoring reduces foot ulcers, and all other temperature sensors require behavior changes by the user, for example, using a thermometer to take the temperature of each individual foot and record readings throughout the day.
Aegle Palette’s CEO and co-founder Yulin Li told the audience that their patented digital placemats use weights to determine and record nutritional info of meals for diabetics. Palette 1.0 captures primary data, like activity and stress levels, and correlates it with biomarkers, like blood glucose levels. This data is all stored in the Palette Vault, which is accessible to the medical team continuously. Palette 2.0 then analyzes that data and provides personalized recommendations to the patient, making it a B2B2C platform.
The judges wanted to know more about how the hardware in the placemat works. Answer: Through photo recognition of food items and a scale to determine quantity of nutrients, calories, etc.).
AgeWell’s CEO and Founder Mitch Besser opened with a quote from the US surgeon general from 2016: “isolation is the greatest health crisis facing America”. Their solution? Employ able seniors to travel around their communities checking on less able seniors in their homes. Empowered with only a smartphone and a simple set of screening questions, these able seniors—known as AgeWells—can “be the eyes and ears of the healthcare system” to reduce hospital readmissions, ER visits and the need for institutionalized care.
Judges asked for specifics on what kind of information the AgeWells are collecting through the app. Answer: Behavioral data like whether they are falling or sleeping, or information about whether they have all their meds and food in the fridge.)
BrainCheck’s COO, Wendy Fong, said it is the first evidence-based, self-administered test for measuring brain function. The company has already secured designation as a class 2 medical device and their “Sport” version has already been adopted by many schools and athletic teams to monitor head injuries for signs of concussion. They are hoping to “replicate the success of BrainCheck Sport in the memory market” by targeting mainly older adults and their caregivers.
Judges wanted to know what kind of tests are the current standard of care to assess memory and cognition in this population. Answer: There is typically a 6-8 month wait to see a specialist. In senior living centers where they use a pencil-and-paper screener, tests take 2+ hours and provide only a raw score without specifying memory vs. cognition scores.
CEO Dirk Soenksen of Ceresti Health says their target users are the unpaid caregivers for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias (ADOD), stroke, and traumatic brain injury. This enormous market of patients, he says, are “unable to self-manage” because they can’t communicate or track their own behavior, medication, etc. Ceresti’s proprietary 12-week program proposes to solve a large part of this problem delivered as a tech-enabled solution for these unpaid caregivers that provides Education, Care Plans, Support, and Coaching
An AARP member of the audience posed a great question to Soenksen, wondering whether they were aiming to replace paid caregivers. Answer: Not necessarily. Their main target users are family members already providing unpaid care and who often cannot afford paid care. Cost savings come not from replacing paid caregivers but from reduced hospitalizations and ER visits.
iBeat’s founder and CEO, Ryan Howard says they offer two emergency response products. The $249 iBeat Watch which has a button on the watch which acts like a life alert as well as proprietary cardiac sensors monitoring function for emergency incidents. Cellular connectivity is included. Second, it includes the free Heart Hero mobile app that teaches you CPR and tests your proficiency. As part of the Heart Hero network, you will be notified if someone is having a heart incident nearby, so you can be the good Samaritan by either providing CPR or locating the nearest defibrillators whose locations are provided by the app.
A savvy audience member in the audience asked whether there would be a way the watch could predict a heart incident and not simply react to one. Answer: The watch cannot yet provide this incredibly valuable service but it is already collecting large amounts of data about this population and it is the vision to utilize that data to add predictive capability to the watch.
Co-founder of Kinto, Jeet Singh, explains that Kinto is an app to help manage communications and coordinate care among family, paid caregivers, and the medical team. It also aims to provide caregivers with a community of support and practical tools to help them deal with their caregiving responsibilities, including financial planning, cost tracking, home care coordination, and safety and insurance recommendations. It is set up to provide the service direct to consumers or to large employers looking to provide valuable benefits to their many employees who provide unpaid caregiving to family members.
Judges inquired about their market differentiation in what is an increasingly crowded marketplace. Answer: Most of the competitors are provider-focused whereas Kinto begins with caregiver needs –many of which are not medical.
Heidi Culbertson, CEO and founder, said Marvee provides a centralized portal for voice-activated caregiving solutions. It is currently integrated as a series of “skills” for Amazon’s Echo but is designed to be platform-agnostic so it could eventually integrate with any number of voice-activated home devices. Today, they have several services in market, including 1) “I’m ok” alerts; 2) engagement services like family news that Marvee can deliver when asked; 3) b2b services like turning paper into voice for answering ‘everyday questions’ in a senior living facility, where many residents cannot read paper handouts about what’s for lunch or what time today’s
An audience member asked for hard evidence on seniors’ willingness to adopt voice interface, given that voice-activated devices still malfunction. Answer: In the beta phase of testing Marvee, they saw a dramatic increase in usage at the 30-day mark, which shows the seniors were understanding the interface. They credit this adoption success at least in part to their “try this today” feature—which sends out, for example, a song from the era in which the user grew up. This feature builds an emotional connection to Marvee and improves adoption.
PillDrill, says Founder and CEO Peter Havas, simplifies and modernizing medication taking. Specifically, it does 3 things: 1) reminds you to take meds 2) tracks what you take through a quick bottle scan; 3) notifies family members / care givers of medication adherence. Its strengths are simplicity because it doesn’t require a smart phone, flexibility because you can program it for any regimen of medication adherence, and dignity because “in order for a product to become part of a person’s life, it cannot just be needed; it has to be loved.”
After learning the device costs $199 with no additional monthly subscription, judges were curious how they had reached this particular price point. Answer: Research about this kind of device shows that it needs to be to be over $100 in order for users to trust it but less than $200 in order to be accessible to the largest number of users.
Richard Lui, Alex Drane Discuss the “Unmentionables” of Caregiving
This morning at LivePitch, MSNBC newscaster Richard Lui was joined by Alex Drane, 5-time startup founder as well as co-founder of the Eliza Corporation, for a candid, personal discussion on the impacts of caregiving.
Lui personally travels weekly from New York to San Francisco to support his mother in the care for his father, an Alzheimer’s patient. He is an Alzheimer’s Association Celebrity Champion who frequently addresses Fortune 500 firms as a thought leader in media, race and storytelling. Drane is also currently a caregiver for an aging family member.
THE STRESSOR SUPERSTORM
Drane and Lui began by finding the humor in their personal caregiving stories—and then turned to a discussion of the stressors that hit their lives when they became caregivers.
“I’ve come to think of caregiver stress as a superstorm of all the regular life stressors at one time,” said Drane, and she gave a shout out to AARP for putting together this event and specifically highlighting the unmentionable topics by including this caregiving panel. It’s a double jeopardy, she adds, because first of all, the act of caregiving can be very, very hard and then second of all, you think you are doing a terrible job so you feel really guilty and isolated. That's why it’s such a relief when you learn someone else is going through it too.
Lui couldn’t agree more but he points out that family caregiver is the most common job in the US, with 40 million Americans identifying as a family caregiver. The second most common job is retail sales, with only about 4 million doing working in this field. If I were a business person, I would see tremendous opportunity there, he added.
LESSONS FROM A WALMART CASHIER
Drane tell the audience that she’s often thought of caregiving as a disease, because it has a real impact on health. For example, as a caregiver, a person has twice the risk of coming down with an illness, twice the risk of experiencing social isolation, and twice the risk of dying.
But she has also just completed her 50th shift as a cashier at Walmart and wanted to contrast what she has learned from the many people who come through the line as Walmart shoppers who are also caregivers: their resiliency and their sense of purpose.
Lui added a note about his affiliation with Hidden Heroes, an organization that works with military caregivers. There are 5 million of these, he says, and he is “inspired every day by what folks are doing”.
There is a paradox here that Drane wanted to highlight: it is simultaneously true that caregivers experience compromised health from this work and a deep sense of fulfillment from it.
This is why, says Drane, if you are a caregiver, you want another caregiver on your own health team, because “we are finally extending the idea of who helps you with your health.” In other words, finding at least one other person who understands the paradox has health benefits for caregivers.
THE OPPORTUNITY: OWN THE ROLE AND TELL THE STORY
What Lui would like to see is people owning their work as caregivers. “Once people can say, ‘I am a caregiver. I don’t get paid but I have a job. I’m a caregiver,’ we will really be on our way.”
Caregivers sharing their story is a great gift, added Drane. It helps people feel less alone in hard situations. And by banding together in this way, we can really get things done.
Lui ended with an emphasis on the power of storytelling, a power he utilizes all the time as a newscaster. We need to get better at telling this story so people see it as an opportunity, he said. Because this is not simply a story of those who are aging. Caregivers are every age, and once we tell that story, investors and entrepreneurs can really see the incredible opportunity for innovation in aging for all.
AARP’s CEO Jo Ann Jenkins Addresses LivePitch Audience
When LivePitch emcee Lisa Suennen, Senior Managing Director of GE Ventures, took the stage this morning, she framed the day's conversation, saying, “As baby boomers age, we will challenge nearly every part of our economy.”
At the beginning of her keynote address to the LivePitch audience, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said that a 10-year-old child today has a 50% chance of living to 104. And that number will continue to rise. “This new longevity is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” she said, but our social attitudes and institutions have not yet caught up to the new realities of living longer lives.
AARP—and particularly this annual LivePitch competition—has one purpose in mind, says Jenkins: to empower people to choose how they live and age by providing resources and opportunities to match their longer life spans.
HEALTH, WEALTH AND SELF
Genetics accounts for only 25% of our expected life span, Jenkins reported, meaning our health has more to do with the choices we make each day than it does with our occasional visits to the doctor’s office.
This also means that our innovators have an opportunity to address the other 75%, to help older adults make smarter, healthier choices and live longer, more independent lives. But research AARP has done shows that people deal with issues related to health, wealth and self all at once, not in silos. So they don’t want solutions that put them in silos either.
Innovators are answering the call, says Jenkins. because "innovation is the engine for disrupting [our outdated views on] aging.”
Moreover, she told the audience, it is a myth that aging adults are resistant to technology as a solution to their needs. They are in fact seeking those solutions. They just need them to be simple and intuitive to use.
The challenge to all of us is to take advantage of all the information and research on living well and turn it into solutions that people want, whether those people need care or are providing that care.
FIRESIDE CHAT WITH LISA SUENNEN
The most shocking fact I have, said Jenkins, is that on average, adults are now more likely to spend more time and resources caring for an older family member than they did caring for their kids. It’s a bipartisan issue—because nearly every lawmaker has a caregiving story.
At AARP, she added, we are asking, how do we care for the caregiver?
Jo Ann Jenkins herself just lost her father two weeks ago and recently experienced what it's like to coordinate care, along with her sister, long distance. When asked whether she learned anything in taking care of her own father that informs in a new way what she was already talking about everyday, she reported that near the end of her father's life, she learned he had decided to change his healthcare plan. This plan ended up not being adequate for his needs, and it was a decision was reached in conversation with his doctor, without any of the family's knowledge.
So when Jo Ann returned to AARP, that experience triggered a conversation about investigating how difficult it is to choose an adequate health plan—and how AARP could play a role in advocating for simplifying those choices and also starting a conversation about who has decision-making power.
In-Home Caregiving Startup Homage Lands $1.2M in Seed Funding
The Singapore-based company moved beyond angel investing to secure funding for further development of its platform as well as expansion of its team.
[The] $1.2 million [of] seed round [funding comes from] venture capital firms...Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups, and SeedPlus.
[Homage is] the brainchild of Y-Combinator Alumni Gillian Tee, Lily Phang, and Tong Duong, [and] aims to “fundamentally” change home-based caregiving for the elderly....[by making] the process quick, effective and affordable.
The shortage of quality caregivers is even more acute in Singapore and Asia so the founders hope to establish their proof of concept in this burgeoning market.
[F]amilies struggle to find in-home solutions they can trust. The process is time-consuming, costly, and most of all, deeply stressful.
Homage will invest the capital to fuel product development and scale operations to fulfill the rising local demand....The platform also serves as an enabler for micro-entrepreneurship, as it offers specialized training for both aspiring and experienced care professionals. The professionals are then hand-picked to work and provide services through Homage.
This way, the founding team, believes they will be contributing their bit in creating opportunities for individuals who are looking for a rewarding career with a flexible work schedule.
The company claims to have delivered more than 10,000 hours of caregiving services.
Aerospace Scientists Turn Their Attention to Tech Gadgets for Caregivers
Among the dossier of caregiver products under development by the Advanced Space and Technology Research Labs, located in Shoreview, Minnesota, are a smartphone app to locate dentures equipped with special antennas, a hands-free car wash for your teeth and a robotic toenail trimmer.
The idea has received a grant of about $200,000 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health. And a University of Minnesota professor is helping out because the devices have the potential to solve some troublesome problems for the elderly, people with motor skill ailments and their caregivers.
As its name suggests, Advanced Space and Technology Research Labs was primarily involved in aerospace technologies.
[They] sell nanosatellite components for spacecraft the size of a Kleenex box and does research in spacecraft and aerospace vehicle navigation, working with government agencies such as NASA and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Suneel Sheikh, company founder, CEO and chief research scientist, is a specialist in GPS technology.
That GPS expertise led Suneel to explore other applications, what it calls "medical and terrestrial" projects involving personal navigation, and recently, lost dentures.
That has included designing devices that would help a firefighter find his or her way through a smoke-filled building or help track the location of dementia patients before they wander out of a health care facility.
ASTER Labs also is collaborating with Stephen Shuman, a professor and director of the Oral Health Service for Older Adults Program at the University of Minnesota's School of Dentistry
Dentures frequently go missing in long-term care facilities housing people with dementia, according to Shuman. The false teeth get wrapped up in napkins at meals and tossed in the trash, or they end up in the laundry or they mistakenly are taken by a patient wandering into the wrong room.
Replacing the dentures can cost upwards of $3,000 and result in tensions among staff, patients and family members over who's at fault. Yet it's proven a difficult problem to solve.
"This has been rolling around in my head for 30 years," Shuman said of the problem of lost dentures. "If you can find a satellite in outer space, you should be able to find a denture in a nursing home."
Some prior attempts to solve the problem involved embedding a radio ID chip into a denture, similar to the systems used to identify lost pets. But that technique requires bringing a detecting sensor fairly close to the denture to get a reading, which would not help if a denture was lost in a large building.
ASTER Lab's proposal is to embed a tiny antenna in the denture that would be tuned to respond to a specific frequency. The antenna would be passive and safe to the wearer, requiring no power inside the denture.
But if the denture got lost, the care facility would use a small, handheld detector wand that would be connected to a smartphone app. The detector would emit a low-frequency radio wave that would be reflected back from the antenna in a missing set of dentures. Then the smartphone application would guide the caregiver to the area in the building where the dentures are hiding.
A prototype is under development using the grant money. Next would be "a $1 million clinical trial of the device at the U's dental geriatrics teaching clinic directed by Shuman at the Walker Methodist senior housing campus in Minneapolis."
If everything goes smoothly, the system could be ready for production in two or three years, with the antenna adding a few dollars to the cost of dentures and the detectors costing a few hundred dollars.
A second grant will be devoted to difficulties the elderly or disabled can have with grasping a toothbrush.
The official name is the Automated Dental Care Device for Persons with Oral Hygiene Disabilities.
Shuman and ASTER Labs envision a hands-free mouthpiece that could be inserted into your mouth. A set of little brushes in the mouthpiece then would start moving, cleaning all of your teeth at once.
The mouthpiece could be attached to a station that could pump a fluoride solution or other agents in and out of the mouthpiece. Sensors would adjust the firmness and speed of the bristle motion and wirelessly transmit information to caregivers, including warnings about any problems. LED lights would indicate when your teeth are clean.
Shuman and Sheikh said the device could significantly reduce the effort required by caregivers in the difficult chore of manually brushing the teeth of disabled individuals.
"There's an autonomy issue," Shuman said. "No one likes to have other people doing things for them."
Shuman said there's a severe shortage of caregivers, so "anything we can do to make caregiving easier and more effective through technology is a blessing for everyone involved."
The last product under development at ASTER Labs is a a hands-free robotic toenail trimming system.
According to ASTER Labs, an estimated one-third of people older than 65 are physically unable to cut their own toenails because of problems with reduced flexibility, diminished eyesight and manual dexterity.
Older people who aren't able to take care of their feet and toenails experience a heightened "risk of injury, pain, infection and other complications," along with a reduction in mobility and greater chance of falling, according to ASTER Labs.
Even if patients can get their toenails trimmed at a podiatry clinic, many people don't like the experience of having their feet handled or are embarrassed undergoing the procedure, said Chuck Hisamoto, ASTER Labs research scientist.
"Nail-related Medicare coverage equates to an estimated $96.8 million each year, and frequent professional non-Medicare-covered nail cutting services become increasingly costly and inconvenient for seniors," according to the company.
ASTER Lab's proposed solution, which it is developing with a $200,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging, is a hands-free device that you could put your foot into.
Optical and infrared cameras and ultrasonic sensors then would guide a rotary burr to gradually pare away excess toenails.
The imaging technology would be an adaptation of work ASTER Labs is pursuing with collaborators to develop an automated system to measure the density of leaves and fruit clusters in vineyards to determine the best time for pruning. But instead of identifying grapes, the machine vision would be looking for toes.
There would be safety features in the toenail trimming device to immediately stop the machine if desired by the patient or if the person's toes moved.
If the high-tech toenail trimmer comes to market, it would cost a few hundred dollars, according to ASTER Labs.
The ASTER Labs scientists see it being used in elder care facilities, but they also think it could be bought by individuals who want to use it in their own homes.
"We try to take things in your daily life that can become difficult due to aging or disability and produce devices to help you become more independent," Sheikh said.
AARP Announces $10k Innovation Prize
The Innovation Champion Award is aimed at spurring innovation in aging, "empowering people to choose how they live as they age." A primary criterion, however, will be universal design, that is, design that appeals and offers usability to all age groups.
Caregiving will be the theme of the competition this year, a field that will demand innovation over the next few years, according to AARP.
By 2020, 117 million Americans are expected to need assistance, but the overall number of caregivers will only reach 45 million. This is a huge opportunity for companies large and small to reach an emerging market – and improve the lives of caregivers and their recipients.
Entries in any of the six following caregiving categories will be accepted:
- Health & Safety Awareness
- Care Coordination
- Transition Support
- Social Well-Being
- Caregiver Quality of Life
- Daily Essential Activities
Companies interested in competing in the event need to apply by April 15th. In addition to the $10,000 prize, winners will receive a trip for 2 company representatives to Washington D.C. where they will be given a tour AARP’s Innovation Lab and meet with AARP Chief Innovation Officer, Terry Bradwell. They will also be given official recognition at AARP HQ event, an ad or Editorial coverage in i3 magazine, and AARP Innovation Champion consulting.
Entrepreneur of the Week: Patrick Bertagna, GTX Corp
GTX Corp -- an acronym for Global Trek Xploration -- was an early player in the location-tracking wearable tech market. When it was founded in 2002, as the name suggests, GTX was originally focused on outdoor adventurers, but they now operate in a much broader market: anyone looking to keep track of a person or other valuable.
In early 2015, they launched a product specifically aimed at helping caregivers keep track of their loved ones with dementia, Alzeimers or other conditions that cause a person to wander. They now offer a suite of products they describe as an IoT Personal Location Services (PLS) platform. These products use patented tracking methods to provide continuous, real-time location coordinates rendered on a map on a GTX portal.
GTX Corp is a holding company that owns and operates two subsidiaries and has been publicly traded since 2008. It is headquartered in Los Angeles and has a European distribution and fulfillment center in Ireland / U.K. They also have international reseller/distributors in 13 countries and service customers in over 20 countries.
We spoke to Founder, Chairman and CEO Patrick Bertagna about GTX Corp and the opportunity he sees in the 50+ market.
Longevity Network: What does GTX Corp, the company do?
Patrick Bertagna: GTX Corp is a pioneer and innovator in Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS, cellular and BLE tracking and recovery location based services. Through its proprietary IoT enterprise monitoring platform GTX offers a complete end-to-end solution of hardware, software and connectivity, backed by an extensive portfolio of patents.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with distributors in 14 countries and customers in over 35 countries, GTX is known for its award-winning patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack- the world’s first invisible wearable technology device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.
LN: Can you tell us about the GPS SmartSole and how it works?
PB: The GPS SmartSoles are a wearable tracking and monitoring device that communicates the location of the wearer without user intervention. The GPS Smart Insole is a communication platform sending location and movement to the GTX app or portal and in the near future will include vital signs and bio-metrics, such as heart rate, pulse, weight and temperature. The simplicity behind the SmartSole Platform is that when someone wanders off or becomes lost, a geo-fence alert is emailed or text, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the wanderer’s location, speed and bearing.
LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?
PB: We believe the most effective technical solutions are the ones most easily used. Our goal was to develop miniaturized, low power consumption GPS location finding technology packaged in the most portable user friendly format- hence we pioneered what is now the multi-billion dollar wearable tech industry. With this technology, the opportunities were vast- ranging from seniors with cognitive memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, children with autism, military and law enforcement, mobile work force and high value assets. Our patented technology delivers a new level of functional oversight, security and peace of mind to a wide variety of audiences and needs.
LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?
PB: Those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury. Currently there are 100 million people worldwide who are part of this at risk wandering group and that number is expected to reach 277 million by 2050.
The 50+ population are more technically inclined and live farther away from loved ones than ever before in history, our product empowers them to be more free and enjoy life more while providing real time information to loved ones even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles apart.
LN: How did you assemble your team?
PB: The original team was a group of like-minded business people that I had worked with in my previous ventures, all with certain skill sets that helped us get past the idea phase and into the realizations phase. We had a big idea and people wanted to come join us, over the years our inner circle kept growing and we kept being introduced to new experts in their respective fields and we built out our team. I’m proud to say Louis Rosenbaum the co-founder is still with us as both a board member and head of operations and finance. Many of our board members and management have been with us for over a decade. We have a very passionate and committed team.
LN: How has GTX the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?
PB: At its core not much- we set out to make a best in class miniaturized tracking solution and sell that all over the world and we now have active customers in over 35 countries. We have diversified somewhat as we don’t just make and sell products, we also license our technology through our extensive patent portfolio. It did take a lot longer than expected for all the moving parts in the eco system to come to fruition, but the good news is we have a lot more runway in front of us as new technologies become available the path the what’s possible keeps on growing…
LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?
PB: It was going to take a lot more time, money and effort.
LN: What most excites you about the aging and or health technology market?
PB: The size and scope of this growing market - The advancements in science and medicine enables people to live longer and they expect a longer and higher quality of life in their sunset years. Globalization has increased disposable income so hundreds of millions of people now have access to technology, first time in history- by 2020 there will be 6 billion smartphones in use across the globe. It’s truly a remarkable time to be part of this and watch the next generation break 100 years in average life span.
LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?
PB: Balance your messaging, this audience wants information not just tweets or YouTube videos. Provide a quality product or service, it’s not just about price and have patience, this demo typically does not impulse buy.
LN: Do you have any other products in development?
PB: Yes we have several in the works, ranging from home health monitoring, bio metrics and we are also developing products and solutions for the military and law enforcement. We are also looking at developing a tracking, monitoring and compliance solution for the medical industry.
LN: Where do you see GTX five years from now?
PB: Staying at the forefront of this industry, developing new applications for tracking and monitoring people and high value assets. It’s in our DNA- we all want to know where someone or something is and GTX is in the Where is business.
Patrick Bertagna is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and thought leader in the wearable technology industry with 35+ years in building technology and consumer product companies. Since 2002 Patrick has been the founder, Chairman and CEO of GTX Corp (GTXO), a pioneer in the wearable technology industry and co-inventor of over a dozen GPS and communication protocol patents currently in the GTX IP portfolio. GTX has been at the forefront of Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS tracking and recovery location based solutions and is known for its award-winning, patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack - the world’s first invisible wearable tracking device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.
Mr. Bertagna also sits on the JBF Board which engages in philanthropic initiatives around the world, empowering women and children living in impoverished and underdeveloped communities by enabling food security; promoting access to education and cultural exchanges; assisting in medical aid and disaster relief; while building and promoting peace.
Mr. Bertagna was born in the South of France, grew up in Los Angeles, went to Cal State University of Northridge and has lived in several countries throughout his career and is fluent in French and Spanish. He has formed alliances with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, T-Mobile, EE, AT&T, Telefonica, Google, Federated Stores, Netscape and GE; and has been a keynote speaker at numerous industry trade shows and conferences.
Startups Work to Improve Caregiving Experience
For older adults who decide they need home care, some startups are offering guidance:
When Ivan Kronenfeld’s Parkinson’s disease began to worsen three years ago, the 70-year-old ex-film producer and his wife decided they needed help to care for him at home.
Anne Byrne researched their options and found Hometeam, a digital start-up offering caregiving services to residents of New York state.
Within a few weeks they had been assigned Royta, described as “terrific” by Mr Kronenfeld, who visits the couple’s Manhattan apartment for four hours a day, three times a week.
Hometeam was set up in 2013 by Josh Bruno, who quit his job at Bain Capital to launch the business after struggling to find good quality care for his 93-year-old grandfather. He is one of a clutch of entrepreneurs who have secured tens of millions of dollars of investments to launch companies that use digital technology to try to improve caregiving.
Mr Kronenfeld and his wife are among millions of Americans who use paid carers. The number of people looking for help swells each January, often because families have just gathered over the holidays and decided that their parents need assistance.
Companies like Hometeam are using tech solutions in conjunction with trained staff to provide quality care. But why is an industry that fills such a clear need struggling to serve a growing aging population?
The industry is dominated by more than 25,000 private groups, many of them small “mom and pop” operators which pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to the roughly 2.2m people who work as caregivers.
Because of the fragmented nature of the home-care industry, it is difficult to put a dollar value on its size, although investment bank Harris Williams estimates that it was worth $40bn last year and will grow to almost $54bn by 2019.
Before launching Hometeam, Mr Bruno spent six months working for nearly 30 care agencies to determine why the standard of service was often so poor. Horror stories abound, from caregivers who do not show up on time, or at all, to those who steal or form inappropriate relationships with clients.
“I wanted a tech solution, but I found out that much of the problem was the job of home health aid itself,” he says. “People blame them as lazy, but they are the worst working conditions — low pay, no training.”
Rather than working in the existing model of home care, startup entrepreneurs are finding new solutions:
Mr Bruno toyed with the idea of creating an Uber for in-home care, a technology platform that would match clients with caregivers without actually employing them. But he decided that would do little to solve the systemic problems in the industry.
Instead, he built a fully fledged care agency covering New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that now has 1,100 employees, most of them carers who are paid on average $15 an hour. The staff also receive benefits that are rarely offered to caregivers, such as healthcare, paid holiday, maternity and sick leave, retirement plans and regular training.
Mr Bruno is not alone in spotting the opportunity in caregiving. A host of rival companies have been set up, attracted by the economics of an ageing population. By 2060, the population of over-65s is forecast to hit 98.2m in the US, more than double the level in 2014. They also see a chance to win new business by improving on poor levels of service.
Honor, a California-based group, has raised about $65m and offers caregiving services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas as well as its home state.
Seth Sternberg, chief executive and co-founder, says that the company’s platform will allow it to build a caregiving business of significant size, something that no one has managed to do so far.
Caregiving, says Mr Sternberg, suffers from “diseconomy of scale”: an agency with fewer than 100 carers can match them with clients and schedule their appointments with relative ease, but if it tries to get bigger, things go wrong.
The agency ends up making poor matches, he says: an obese client who owns kittens might end up being sent a petite woman who is allergic to cats. And when schedulers start arranging appointments outside of a small geographic area they know well, caregivers end up being late or not turning up at all.
Honor uses algorithms to handle the logistics, which will theoretically allow the business to scale up more easily than traditional care agencies.
“We have an automated system, the technology that can match a care pro with the right skillset,” says Mr Sternberg. “If your mom has dementia and weighs 250lbs, you need someone who is better trained and strong enough to lift her.”
Honor says its technology, combined with rigorous training, has allowed it to buck the trend of high employee turnover, which “hovers below 20 per cent” versus the industry average of 60 per cent a year. Hometeam says its staff turnover is 14 per cent.
The world population of older adults is growing, and many of them want to stay in their homes as they age. The need for reliable home care will not diminish in the near future, and it may be tech entrepreneurs who find lasting solutions.
Guest Voices: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Honor on Family Caregiving Tips and Trends
Linda calls her Dad for her daily check-in. “How did Mom do today?” While listening to him recount how Mom slept, what she ate, and whether she took her medications, the working mother of two scribbles the notes down on a pad in her office cube. This is a snapshot of how millions of men and women juggle their roles as family caregivers.
The AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving estimate about 34-million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. Each year that statistic is expected to grow along with the aging baby boomer population. (source: AARP 2015 Report)
Today, we are hearing more about home care options and learning more about the changing attitudes around family caregiving from a new national survey.
The 2016 Honor Family Caregiving Survey reveals that a larger number of Americans who hadn’t yet been exposed to the caregiving process viewed caring for an older loved one as a “burden.” This same group also expressed far greater concern over the financial impact of providing care. Those who were already deep in the trenches of a caregiving role viewed the experience as a “gift,” and were less concerned about cost implications, despite the potential toll on career, financial security and other life responsibilities.
New information also shows it’s not just senior spouses providing care.
Out of 1000 adults over the age of 18, 40% said they have served as a caregiver for an aging loved one. And a combined 35% are 18-44. Four out of every 10 caregivers are men. This is growing to become a shared responsibility which stretches across communities of men, women, young, older, and all socioeconomic levels.
What came as a surprise is that regardless of our current life stage and attitudes toward assuming a caregiver role, when that moment comes for us to provide long-term support to an aging parent or grandparent - many of us are simply unprepared. Nearly 57% of survey respondents said if a loved one needed immediate care, they could not provide it. And, nearly 88% surveyed said it would be up to them -- alone or with a sibling -- to shoulder the responsibility.
Here are 3 tips that can help take some stress out of caring for an aging loved one:
- Create a caregiving plan that involves the recipient and other family members. Ninety-one percent surveyed indicated that their loved one would prefer to stay in their own home, if possible. Volunteers and professional caregivers alike should always be appropriately vetted with a background check and provided with feedback after each visit to ensure that their care style and protocols are in sync with family member expectations.
- Establish and maintain a relationship with your loved one’s medical team and share regular notes and communication to help keep them informed about care and wellness routines that take place in the home.
- Remember that it is important to care for yourself too - prioritizing your own health will help you manage stress and, ultimately, be a more effective care provider.
Tip number 3 is really important. Linda and her Dad recently added a paid Care Pro to help with her Mom’s care. She is there a few hours a day to make her happy, comfortable and safe. She is also there to give Linda and her Dad a much-needed break. And that helps them embrace their roles as family caregivers as a “gift.”
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is Head of Care at Honor home care company. She is a labor advocate and family caregiver.
IT Professional Designs Own Smart Home
Simon Daykin has spent the past four years converting his house into a custom smart home with a combination of DIY kits, Raspberry Pi computers, and his own experience as a senior IT professional. BBC technology reporter Zoe Kleinman found that the result is a family home with high tech solutions for safety and convenience:
"There are cameras in the burglar alarm sensors, and a facial recognition system in the house.
"If it's someone it 'knows', it will tell me. If it's someone it doesn't know, it will tell me."
The combination of devices also enables him to talk to delivery drivers via his phone if the house is empty (and make sure they leave the parcels in the right place) - and was handy when his daughter had a fall and the family were able to share footage with hospital doctors to help them understand her injury.
Daykin's intent was to reduce the family's energy use, but the smart home has had additional benefits for the comfort of its residents and guests:
He carries out data mining to fine-tune the house to ever greater efficiency - sensors monitor everything from humidity and air quality to temperature and toilet flushes.
Family members have their own preferences pre-programmed - when Mr Daykin's mother-in-law arrives, the heating turns up because she feels the cold more.
Currently Daykin programs much of the data manually, but he hopes to utilitize AI so that the house operates with greater autonomy:
"I get a lot of updates from the house, but it's very experimental and I like it because I know what's going on," he says.
"One of the big next steps is being able to talk to the house or use a digital assistant so you don't have to touch anything.
"My ultimate aim is that the house is so aware of what it wants and what you want it to be that it reacts to you without you having to tell it."
A smart home isn't just about monitoring toilet flushes and turning off lights. Some features are just for fun:
One of Mr Daykin's early experiments was a bathroom-based sound system controlled by rubber ducks that became magnetic controls when placed against the metal bath tub, allowing bathers to control the sound and change the music.
"It was good fun," he says.
"But these days they prefer watching the iPad."
While Mr. Daykin clearly has little reservations about collecting personal data on himself and his family (the family did agree that the upstairs bedrooms are off-limits), others may be much more wary, even as technology use increases all around us:
In fact, people in modern life are very used to being observed, says psychology professor Tim Buchanan, from Westminster University - whether that's through CCTV, smartphone use or even car registration.
"I think most people genuinely aren't aware of all the data that is collectible about them at any point in time or what the value of that data is," he says.
"I think there are many people who are uncomfortable with it - who go to great pains to try to protect their privacy - but even those people will surrender their privacy in order to access services that they need.
"Unless you were to completely strip technology out of your life, I'm afraid we are stuck with it."
We may be "stuck with it," but as this technology becomes more readily available at the consumer level, we are seeing that it allows older adults who want to age in their homes greater freedom, safety, and comfort. Smart products that detect falls, help people remember to take their medication, and alert caregivers in the event of wandering not only protect seniors, but also offer their families and loved ones valuable peace of mind.