According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010 there were approximately 40 million Americans over the age of 65. Around 62% of these Americans also have two or more chronic medical conditions. Managing health becomes an increasingly difficult task as we age, complicated often by varying degrees of dementia, decreased mobility, isolation, and other challenges.
As a result, by 2020 it is estimated that 12 million Americans will need long-term care. Increasingly though, patients, their families, and their physicians are looking for ways to help older Americans stay at home longer, a concept known as aging in place.
Independa is a startup that aims to leverage mobile technology to do just that, providing services targeted at helping older Americans manage the challenge that would otherwise force them out of their homes. Unlike traditional home care groups, though, Independa takes a unique approach aimed at providing more holistic, comprehensive services like a platform which provides reminders for occasions like birthdays or one-touch communication with family members. We had the opportunity to talk to Kian Saneii, CEO of Independa, about his vision for how mobile health can not only help people stay in their homes and communities, but make that time more meaningful as well. Independa is interesting in that offers both the traditional services of home health via its Artemis platform as well as more unique offerings targeted at keeping individuals socially engaged with friends and family via its Angela platform. The latter was, in fact, Independa’s first offering.
“Each stage that you go further is much more expensive and also much more burdensome to yourself and to your family and loved ones. So our value prop is that we enable a highly integrated technology not just about wireless health or m-health or mobile health or remote patient monitoring or telecare – those are all just monitors. At the end of the day you really need a holistic view of what does it take to keep someone where they want to be and enjoying life.”
For Mr. Saneii, the key piece to accomplishing that goal is social engagement. As such, the Angela platform offers a variety of services aimed at keeping seniors active. This includes features like one-touch calling to family members and a smart calendar for everything from birthdays to doctors appointments that provides phone call reminders. In addition, Independa offers a “Life Stories” service in which family members may call their elder loved ones and, using Independa scripts, help capture recorded stories to document their beliefs, life, and experiences. From that, Independa began to add services more specifically started at health management through their Artemis platform. Among those services is a recently announced partnership with Telcare to provide home glucose monitoring. Other services include traditional sensors like blood pressure and weight monitoring. Some more distinct services include motion sensors, door alarms, toilet flushing, room temperatures, and more – all parameters that can help loved ones keep track of markers of safe and healthy living. In designing these platforms, Independa does, in some ways, take a cue from Apple.
“Whenever we don’t use the technology, it’s the technology companies fault, not theirs…now they are using the iPad, proving beyond any doubt that we just have to design things for them. And so that was the other element of differentiation – that it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you do it and the design is a critical element.”
To access these systems, Independa offers a tablet-based interface where most services are accessible with minimal effort required from the user; a phone-based system that offers services like medication and event reminders is also available. They also recently announced a partnership with LG to develop televisions integrated the Angela platform targeted at communities for the elderly, such as assisted living or even senior apartments. This announcement, in particular, highlights one of the major tenets for mobile health – integration into the day-to-day life of the individual with minimal disruption.