LoJack set to enter patient locating biz

By Brian Dolan
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LoJackLoJack is not just for cars anymore. The wireless device maker that is known for helping cops find stolen cars announced today the launch of LoJack SafetyNet, a tracking system aimed at the more than 5.2 million American Alzheimer's patients who may wander off and have trouble finding their way back home again. SafetyNet leverages LoJack's Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, which is already deployed in 26 states and more than 30 countries. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, 18,000 people are already using similar wristband radio-tracking devices made by Care Trak International or Locator Systems, which LoJack acquired last year. The devices typically cost between $25 and $30 a month to use, but some police departments provide them for free.

According to the National Alzheimer's Association, wandering is among the most life-threatening behaviors that patients face. The service is also expected to appeal to caregivers of autistics. The National Autism Association found in a recent poll that 92 percent of respondents last year said their child was at risk of wandering. Tracking is crucial for autistic children since they often do not respond to rescuers' calls, the association said.

LoJack CEO Ronald Waters hopes to leverage the 1,900 police departments that currently use its car locator service. The company will give away receivers for free and charge clients $30 a month after a $99 enrollment fee. 

So which is better: Care Trak or LoJack? Each  claims its frequency band is free from interference by wild animals wearing tracking devices. LoJack says its frequency is not affected by interference from some television channels.

Before signing up for any tracking service, consumers should check with their local police departments to inquire about support.

For more on LoJack's foray into patient tracking read this article from the WSJ (sub. req.) or this article from InformationWeek.