MobileHelp acquires Halo Monitoring to build out PERS offering

By Brian Dolan

MobileHelpBoca Raton, Florida-based MobileHelp has acquired competing mobile personal emergency services (mPERS) provider Halo Monitoring for an undisclosed sum this week. The acquisition brings two important features to MobileHelp's mPERS offering: automatic fall detection technology and advanced activity monitoring. The deal comes shortly after Alere's acquisition of home health monitoring company MedApps, and Verizon's acquisition of Hughes Telematics, which counts mPERS company Lifecomm as a majority owned subsidiary. Years ago -- in November 2009 -- GreatCall acquired MobiWatch to bring its own mPERS offering to market, 5 Star.

“The acquisition of Halo Monitoring is an important step on our journey to expand our solution portfolio of Home Healthcare and Monitoring solutions that further improve the well-being of seniors who rely on our products,” Rob Flippo, CEO of MobileHelp said in a statement. “We are excited to add additional capabilities to our best-in-class mPERS offerings, in addition to bringing on board talent to further expand our technology capabilities.”

The myHalo device was worn under clothing, as a chest strap, and could send alerts to caregivers and family members via email and text messages. The health data collected by the device was also sent to Halo’s secure online portal and it could also be sent to Microsoft's HealthVault thanks to a deal inked with Microsoft in September 2009. Halo Monitoring was one of the first companies to include automatic fall detection in its wearable PERS devices, which send an alert to caregivers and/or a call center when the person wearing the pendant falls -- it does not require the wearer to push any buttons to trigger the alert. In late 2009 Halo Monitoring inked a deal with A&D Medical to integrate some of that company's Bluetooth-enabled weight scales and blood pressure cuffs.

The often cited statistics around fall prevention come from the Center for Disease Control: Seniors who fall tend to exercise less due to fear of another fall and this reduced activity causes a decrease in balance leading to a greater risk of falls in the future. About 40 percent of seniors fall each year and in the US that translates to 12 million people. MobileHelp notes in its announcement that according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, falls account for about 70 percent of the accidental deaths in the elderly population.

Halo was also one of the first home health monitoring companies to develop an iPhone app for caregivers, myHalo, which it announced in February 2010. According to the company's announcement for the app, "it allow[ed] caregivers to confirm an aging parent is OK, securely track health information, and receive important fall alerts." As of this writing, the app is currently not available in the AppStore.