New Brunswick Launches Canada’s First Innovation Hub to Support Tech Solutions for Aging
The Canadian province of New Brunswick recently launched the country's first innovation hub focused on tech solutions for the aging.
The New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF), in collaboration with the AGE–WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), is launching Advancing Policies and Practices in Technology and Aging (APPTA), an innovation hub dedicated to building tech that supports healthy aging.
AGE-WELL NCE said the APPTA hub, which officially opened on May 16 in Fredericton, will focus mainly on developing technologies and solutions for policy, program, and service challenges in the field of technology and aging. The hub is meant to allow Canadians to benefit from emerging technologies that foster independent living and improve the quality of life for aging adults.
The goal is to help entrepreneurs get to market with their products and services designed to support healthy aging.
Lisa Harris, New Brunswick’s minister of seniors and long-term care [said], “We are delighted to be the host province for a hub that will be a national resource for policymakers, researchers, clinicians, and others working to implement novel technologies that will improve the health and wellbeing of older Canadians and their caregivers.”
The APPTA hub will help entrepreneurs take their ideas to market by connecting them to end users, policymakers, and service providers. AGE-WELL NCE said it will also bring training opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from the field of technology and aging. AGE-WELL and NBHRF will jointly fund the salaries of four individuals annually.
“This hub will promote knowledge-sharing and effective transfer of needed technologies right across Canada," [said] Bruno Battistini, president, CEO, and scientific director of NBHRF and a co-sponsor of the hub.
SilverRide Offers Mobility Solutions for Bay Area’s Aging, Disabled
San Francisco-based SilverRide was founded in 2007, with a mission to meet the transportation needs of older adults with ambulatory or other limitations.
“When you get a ride from us, it’s a lot more than a ride,” said Jeff Maltz, who launched SilverRide in 2007 after hearing about older adults facing transportation problems.
Drivers for SilverRide undergo background checks and random drug testing, but they also get training in transporting people with special needs of all kinds, physical and cognitive.
“The truth is, it’s a little easier to help someone in a wheelchair,” Maltz said. “If you’re helping somebody with a cane or walker, there’s a higher risk of fall.” SilverRide calls the service “door-through-door.” Drivers don’t pull up to the curb and wait for the passenger to hop in. Instead they provide a safe escort from indoors to the car and back indoors again at the destination.
Drivers, who get liability insurance coverage from SilverRide, also shuttle customers to and from medical procedures that involve anesthesia, where doctors recommend against patients driving themselves.
SilverRide staff additionally develop the profile of each rider when they sign up, allowing for more individualized service.
[For example, the] company... gathers information about whether there are steps outside clients’ homes, how to reach their emergency contacts, how often a client likes to go out and where he or she likes to go. The company promises to keep those details and preferences on file and confidential.
...For an additional fee, SilverRide drivers will stay with clients who can’t or don’t want to be on their own, accompanying them to games, shows and other events. Those costs range from $45 to $85 an hour. The company says its drivers spend 70 percent of their time in that capacity.
Like most transportation services designed for older adults, SilverRide does not presume smartphone usage.
Riders can summon SilverRide with a phone call or by email, convenient options for those who aren’t adept with smartphones. “We have a [smartphone] app,” Maltz said. “Zero people use it.”
Cities and States across the country are confronting the transportation needs of their aging populations, and many partnerships with startups--or more established companies like Uber or Lyft--are springing up.
“There are lots of models that have aspects of what is offered in SilverRide,” said Virginia Rize, co-director of the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. “I think we’re in a period where there is tremendous development and enhancement of transportation options.”
The reason for this wave of developments nationally is a growing need that will be challenging to meet. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires local governments to provide rides for anyone who can’t use ordinary public transportation. Often, what’s provided are minibuses that carry multiple people, each to a different destination, while others ride along waiting for their stops. It can be a slow and inconvenient way to get around. In addition, these services are struggling to stretch their capacity for an aging population.
SilverRide hopes to expand into other markets to meet some of this growing demand.
[Founder Maltz] believes accessible transportation can translate into better health for aging people by enabling them to socialize and take part in activities they would otherwise miss. He gave an example by telling a story.
SilverRide got a call from someone whose uncle had been told he had two weeks to live, Maltz said. The uncle wanted to visit a gay bar one more time before he died. After making sure the man was OK to travel, SilverRide drove him to the bar and handed him off safely to the bartender.
“On the way back, the guy asked if we could take him again the next day. We told him we’d take him as many times as he wanted to go,” Maltz recalled. “The guy wound up going to gay bars three to five times a week — for the next five years.”
NY’s Governor Cuomo Launches Country’s First Aging Services Mobile App
With the launch of the Aging Services mobile app, announced on May 9th, the Governor of New York has high hopes for his state as a role model in serving older adults.
[It] is part of the Governor’s overall goal to make New York State the healthiest and the first age-friendly state in the nation, in accordance with the eight Age Friendly/Livable Community Domains outlined by the World Health Organization and AARP. Communities that are designed and designated as age-friendly are communities that promote healthy aging for older adults and individuals of any age.
[The] app [will] connect older adults with valuable resources and services in their communities. The New York State Office for the Aging’s Aging Services app will provide New York's more than 3.7 million older adults with easily accessible material about benefits, programs, and services, including information regarding health and wellness, housing, and transportation options. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android platforms.
A primary aim of the app is to help older adults locate the services already available in their neighborhood.
Using the app’s “Near Me” feature, an older adult or caregiver anywhere in New York can immediately obtain address and contact information for local offices for the aging, senior centers, farmers’ markets, caregiver services, Alzheimer’s Association chapters, and more, within the closest proximity to their exact location.
The Aging Services app also links users with live information and assistance through NY Connects, the state’s “no wrong door” system for community-based long-term services and supports, which is designed to help older adults and those with disabilities remain healthy and independent. Additionally, the app provides timely news and updates about state and federal programs that directly impact the lives of older New Yorkers and their families.
Governor Cuomo's initiative is timely, given the changing technology habits of older adults and their widespread desire to age-in-place.
Older adults are increasingly using technological tools to connect to news and information, health and wellness resources, and social supports. Almost 75 percent of people over age 50 and almost 45 percent of people over age 65 now own a smartphone, and those numbers continue to grow.
Beth Finkel, AARP NY State Director said, “AARP is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo to make New York the first age friendly state. The launching of this app, specifically designed for older New Yorkers and their families, supports many of the principles of age friendly/livable communities. Today’s older adults are becoming increasingly connected to mobile technology via smartphones and other mobile devices, and this new age-friendly mobile app allows people to more easily link to community resources that help them age independently.”
Tom Kamber, Founder and Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services, said, “We are experiencing a longevity revolution in this country and the role of technology to assist and support our daily activities is paramount. There is an increasing awareness of healthy living and social engagement among today’s older adults, and technology plays a key role in healthy aging. New York State’s new mobile Aging Services app helps older adults remain healthy, active, and engaged in their communities, which in turn leads to a stronger and smarter New York.”
The Aging Services app was developed by the New York State Office for the Aging in collaboration with the New York State Office of Information Technology Services. To explore more of New York State’s official mobile apps, visit www.ny.gov/mobileapps.
Might we Finally See a Digital Health Unicorn? Caremerge’s CTO Believes We Will
Co-Founder and CTO of Caremerge, Fahad Aziz, recently published a piece in Forbes on why he believes no digital health startup has yet achieved the "unicorn" status of a billion dollar valuation. Can it ever happen? Aziz believes it can, because some of the chronic limiting factors in the rapid adoption characteristic of unicorns is increasingly likely as the sector matures and offers ways to get around the limitations.
With Caremerge being one of the the fastest growing healthcare startups around, and one that has raised an impressive $20m in investment to date, his perspective is nuanced and insightful. (Please also check out The Longevity Network's own exclusive Entrepreneur of the Week interview with co-founder and CEO of Caremerge, Asif Khan).
Despite the fact that health is a basic need, not one digital health startup has attained unicorn status...There are several reasons as to why digital health startups have failed thus far to build multibillion-dollar businesses.
The First Difficulty: Securing Adequate Capital
No unicorn exists today that didn’t raise a crazy amount of cash in their first few years of growth. Digital health startups don’t have that luxury — which becomes a huge roadblock for them to grow exponentially.
Investors feel (and rightly so) that they don’t have enough leverage to assist a healthcare startup with growth. In addition to extensive government regulations, buyers (hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies or long-term care facilities) are often slow in buying technology. Investors are excited about the space because of the potential for demand but not enough to take on hundreds of millions of dollars of risk.
The bright spot: that investor confidence is growing.
In 2010, digital health companies received $1 billion in total investment, a drop in the bucket in comparison to others. Six years later, that number jumped 810% to $8.1 billion in 2016, as reported by Novahill Partners in their quarterly report (paywall). Part of this is due to entrepreneurs finding creative ways to generate revenue, lessening their dependence on providers.
The Second Difficulty: Costly Integration with Provider Systems
The fact that a digital health product cannot work in isolation and that it needs data from hospitals or physician offices adds complication and slows down innovation. By the time a startup creates those integrations, it has exhausted its funds and is likely dependent on this investment to work for them. And they usually don’t.
The bright spot: these integrations have become easier and less costly to perform
Major health systems offer out-of-the-box APIs and interfaces that make the integration process quick to build and test. There are also a number of third-party systems like Interfaceware and Mirth that provide built-in connectors to use and consultants who would do the integration for less, thus allowing startups to focus on their core business.
Third Difficulty: The Stakeholders Who Will Pay have Different Objectives Than the Ones Who Will Use
Healthcare regulations and large customers (like hospitals) often dictate the direction of a particular solution, and it becomes very difficult for a digital health startup to focus on optimizing its features to increase user tracking. New features take priority over A/B testing on existing features. Current unicorns in different markets have mastered the art of increasing traction by designing and redesigning the user experience, gamifying engagement, and sending smart notifications. This is only possible when you have one core offering.
The bright spot: many of the more successful startups are figuring out how to navigate this conflict.
More and more digital health startups are now trying to stay focused on their offerings. PatientPing, Amino, ZocDoc and Honor are several examples of digital health startups that have shown high growth while offering one core service.
The Fourth Difficulty: Many Digital Health Solutions Pull Provider Attention Away from Their Patients
Most healthcare technologies are used by care providers at hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and senior living communities. However, while technology has helped them become efficient, it takes their focus away from what they are trained to do. If you visit your primary doctor, you will notice that while they are talking to you, they are staring at a computer. It’s annoying, and they hate it too, but they have no choice.
This is the biggest challenge for digital health startups. They haven’t made applications that keep their users in mind.
The bright spot: there is a glimmer of hope in voice-activation, AI and other innovations.
Goodbye to clunky electronic medical records...Forward, a Silicon Valley startup, is determined to change that. By using voice recognition, artificial intelligence and connected EHR, they are letting physicians do what they do best: consult and let the technology assist them in a way that’s not a hindrance.
The Fifth Difficulty: B2B Does Not Utilize the Same Viral Consumer Adoption Model as Unicorns in Other Sectors
Most unicorns provide solutions to consumers. There are proven methodologies that allow to exponentially increase a consumer base via user engagement and virtuous loops (aka network effect). This is not as applicable in a B2B setting, but it’s not far-fetched either.
The bright spot: other sectors have demonstrated there is a version of rapid adoption that works in B2B growth
Palantir and Dropbox are two B2B companies that made it to unicorn status while providing solutions for other businesses. The business models were different, but they mastered the art of user engagement to retain and grow users in the system. Once users become the champions of their applications, it leaves decision makers and enterprises with no option to switch. Digital health startups now have these proven examples, and they need to employ them in their own businesses to generate the kind of growth that’s expected from a unicorn.
The Conclusion: any day now, the bright spots will win out over the entrenched difficulties in achieving the market scale of a unicorn in a digital health startup.
These are very exciting times for digital health startups. According to RockHealth, in the first quarter of 2017, there were 71 digital health deals totaling over $1 billion. Most of these investments were second and third rounds, which shows that startups have established traction and wowed their investors. Moreover, digital health startups are looking for creative ways to increase their revenue by signing up technology partners in addition to direct sales. And finally, more entrepreneurs from non-health startups are entering this space. For example, the founders of Vida, Honor, Forward and CloudMedx came from tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Based on all of this, there is reason to believe that very soon we will see not just one but several digital health startups transform into unicorns.
Countries With Aging Populations Seek…and Find…Positive Health Outcomes by Fostering Social Connection
The United States is not the only country facing what AARP calls a 'caregiving cliff' as 10,000 baby boomers a day turn 65 and the ratio of caregivers to those in need of care continues to drop--by 2050, it will be down to 3:1.
But all these countries facing similar demographic shifts can learn from one another about what works, says Susan Mende in a post on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Culture of Health" blog.
Global entrepreneurs are searching for ways to improve the lives of a rapidly aging population [and] their lessons can inform efforts right here in the United States.
Aging2.0 recently released a new report entitled A Snapshot of Global Innovation in Aging and Senior Care, which takes a look at some of the better ideas out there.
[For example], Hogewey [is] a community outside Amsterdam where older people with advanced dementia lead largely autonomous lives...in small-group homes that look and feel like real homes, with people of similar backgrounds and experiences. Caregiving and other staff support them in everyday activities and blend into the environment, serving as grocery store clerks, hairdressers, bartenders, and neighbors.
It’s humanistic, not medicalized...[and it] embodies a Culture of Health, enabling people to live healthy, happy, and meaningful lives within a supportive community, for as long as they can.
With a mission to connect, educate, and convene innovators from around the world who are working to improve the lives of older adults, the report highlights three promising trends.
Trend #1: An Awareness of the Importance of Social Determinants of Health
[These determinants include] self-sufficiency, transportation, and access to healthy foods. Many have noted the harmful effects of social isolation on older people, and are searching for ways to keep older adults connected to their families, friends, and communities. Research has linked loneliness in older people with depression, stress, cognitive decline, reduced mobility, difficulty performing daily activities, and death. The United Kingdom recognizes these harmful effects. There, the Campaign to End Loneliness, a network of national, regional, and local organizations have identified social isolation among older adults as a public health priority and are working to ensure action at the national and local levels. And in Ireland, social entrepreneur Peter Managan started the Freebird Club, a web-supported, peer-to-peer social and homestay network akin to an Airbnb for people over 50. It encourages older adults to both travel and share each other’s company.
Trend #2: Tech Not for its Own Sake but as “Person-Centric” Solutions to Bring Services to Older Adults
Connecting older adults to technology is not the goal. The goal is to connect older adults with the people and services they need to live richer, more independent lives. Technology is just a platform. For example, Belgium-born Cubigo is an interactive platform that helps older adults living either at home or in assisted living make video phone calls, order meals or transportation, watch a movie, share photos—and much more—all in one place. The idea is to make it easier for older people to live independent, socially connected lives. Brookdale, a major operator of senior living communities, is implementing Cubigo at one of its facilities. GrandPad, another tech solution, is a tablet specially designed to keep older adults connected with families, friends, and service providers.
Trend #3: Innovations that Connect Seniors to Younger Generations
Young people are helping to fuel the movement for innovation in this space. Teeniors, for example, connects teenagers and young adults in New Mexico with older adults who need affordable, one-on-one tech support at home. Some young people devise innovations to address the needs of older adults in their lives. GoGoGranparent, an on-demand transportation service for older adults who don’t have smart phones, was launched by a young man who wanted to ensure that his newly blind grandmother could continue getting around and maintain an active social life. And GrandPad’s father-and-son founders, Scott and Isaac Lien, also wanted to create something fun for Grandma Lien, their first user. “I had no idea of the positive impact it would have on her life,” said grandson Isaac. “Now we’re doing it for thousands of people.”
Think about the future, pleads Mende. Everyone will be there soon for one thing.
It’s important to remember that older adults are us in the future. They need the same things everyone needs: normalcy, security, and social interaction. As we work to build a Culture of Health in the U.S., we have much to learn from innovative efforts, both here and abroad, that are ensuring healthy and meaningful lives across the lifespan.
Cleveland Clinic’s Commercialization Arm Gets Restructured, Adds Execs
Among the successes over the past two decades at Cleveland Clinic--many of which are in the news this week as Dr. Toby Cosgrove recently announced he will step down from his role as longtime CEO--is the development of its commercialization arm, Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI).
Last month, CCI announced it was restructuring the division to further expand and refine its ability to commercialize medical innovations and also attract talent to Cleveland.
The restructuring elevates the role of Cleveland Clinic Ventures, with the goal of putting added focus on spinning off companies and raising funds to get those companies launched.
[It] will align the commercialization process under two Cleveland Clinic departments. Brian Donley, M.D., chief of staff at Cleveland Clinic, will oversee CCI and Steven Glass, chief financial officer for Cleveland Clinic, will oversee Cleveland Clinic Ventures.
“This new structure will maintain appropriate separation and eliminate any conflicts of interest in the commercialization process,” said Glass in a prepared statement. “It will also better position Cleveland Clinic to take to market the breakthrough inventions of our caregivers into new medical products and companies that benefit patients.”
CCI has become a success story of commercializing innovative ideas to improve patient experience and outcomes by tapping into its practicing caregivers for ideas.
Founded in 2000, CCI has issued over 850 patents and executed more than 500 licenses on medical devices and techniques. Additionally, CCI has helped launch 77 companies, which have created over 1,200 jobs and raised more than $1 billion in follow-on funding, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Successful...spinoffs include Explorys, a data firm purchased by IBM, and Intellect, a neuroscience device-maker acquired by Boston Scientific. In June 2016, CCI executed a license with a national patient experience services company to distribute and implement Cleveland Clinic’s Communicate with H.E.A.R.T. program to hospitals looking to improve their patient experience. NaviGate performed a first in human transcatheter mitral valve replacement in April 2015. Cleveland Heart Labs has grown to over 200 employees.
A new director has also been named for each of the two newly restructured departments.
Peter O’Neill will serve as executive director of CCI. He has more than 10 years of experience with CCI, including serving as director of commercialization and chief executive of one of its spinoff companies, Custom Orthopaedic Solutions.
Jack Miner, former director of the Venture Center at the University of Michigan, will be managing director of Cleveland Clinic Ventures. In his new role, Miner oversees a team that focuses on the 77 spin-off companies in its portfolio. He also plays a lead role in spinning off new companies and raising the funds needed to not only get off the ground, but to get all the way to market. These plans will include funding strategies, technology road maps and business model development.
Catalia Health Secures $2.5M to Deploy Companion Robot as Medication Adherence Aid
Catalia Health has raised $2.5M in their second round of funding to further build out and deploy its AI-powered patient engagement robot named Mabu.
[This] new round [of funding was] led by Khosla Ventures. Additional investments came from new investors NewGen Capital and Macnica Ventures and existing investors Q Venture Partners Limited, InnoLinks Ventures, Abstract by Flight.VC, DeNA and Lucky Capital. This brings the company's total funding to $3.75 million.
“This investment enables us to hit two major milestones: roll out Mabu to our first patients and obtain significant data that will show the benefits of our platform to patients and customers,” Catalia CEO Dr. Cory Kidd said in a statement. “We’re pleased to have Khosla Ventures, one of the most prominent healthcare technology investors, back to lead our second round of funding.”
The big-eyed, friendly-looking robot is intended as a full home care companion, particularly for elderly patients. Although Mabu is designed for a number of functions, from checking in on how a person is doing to contacting a caregiver if needed, its developers are currently most focused on medication adherence.
Currently the company is testing Mabu as a medication adherence aid in ongoing pilots with pharma companies, healthcare systems, and home health organizations.
“NewGen Capital is excited to join the Catalia Health team because we see great potential in utilizing artificial intelligence and natural language processing to improve patient care and monitor and increase pharmaceutical adherence,” Homan Yuen, managing partner of NewGen Capital, said in a statement. “We firmly believe technology can be used to enhance quality of life and this is a clear example of that.”
3 Wearable Tech Entrepreneurs Share What Motivated Them to Address the 50+ Market
In collaboration with MedCity News, AARP recently presented 50 companies with a reader's choice "50+ Innovation Leaders" award, highlighting leaders in the field of everything from smart aging and wearables to behavioral health, care coordination and caregiver quality of life. The full report can be downloaded here.
MedCity combed through the profiles of the winners and pulled out some gems of insight on what motivates these entrepreneurs to work with the aging population and who their healthcare heroes are.
AliveCor produced the FDA-cleared Kardia to function as a mobile heart monitor. Founder and Chief Medical Officer Dave Albert shared what motivated him to develop a device to help aging populations:
The developed world is aging from Japan to Europe to the United States. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer are consuming more and more resources. We need to develop solutions for these problems that are practical and affordable for the aging population.
Stephanie Alves founded ABL Denim to improve the quality of life for physically disabled individuals to give them more flexibility on clothing options. Her step-sister inspired her to start the business, which also serves members of the aging population who experience increasingly limited mobility.
My step-sister, a baby boomer, became a wheelchair user after several failed back surgeries. To find fashionable clothing that was easier to dress in and non-harmful was impossible; there were only geriatric styles available. She inspired me to use my background as a designer in the fashion industry and lifelong history with family members with disabilities to start a business making clothing that offers in-style functional clothing, enabling greater independence, boosting self-esteem, and making the work of dressing easier for caregivers each and every day.
Shai Gozani, the CEO of NeuroMetrix [who recently wrote a Guest Voices blog post for The Longevity Network], which produces the FDA-cleared Quell wearable device to relieve pain, was inspired to work with the aging population to address the chronic conditions he believes many technology companies inadequately serve:
There are far too many “cool technologies” chasing problems. Most wearable devices target the worried well but don’t address the major societal challenges. As the population ages, the impact of chronic disease, including pain, is rapidly growing with an estimated cost over $2 trillion annually in the United States. Technology can not only address costs but dramatically improve quality of life.
To learn more about the 50+ Innovation Leaders across smart living and wearables, healthcare delivery, medication management, entrepreneurial innovation and behavioral health, see MedCity's full profile list here.
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.
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.