Analyst: Curb your enthusiasm over GE-QuietCare

By Brian Dolan

Earlier this week we reported that GE Healthcare had acquired remote monitoring company Living Independently Group for an undisclosed sum. LIG’s key product is still in development: QuietCare, an infrared sensor system that monitors seniors activity throughout the day and sends alerts to caregivers if seniors appear to need assistance.

Aging in Place Technology Watch editor and analyst Laurie Orlov wrote in with some comments and analysis of the deal:

I don't think this has much significance in the near term and I suspect little money was spent on this compared to the sizable sum that over the years was spent to market LIG's offering, first to consumers then to senior housing organizations after that failed. And while QuietCare is certainly used in some independent living facilities, there are a number of issues associated with it and in general with the category, which in my view is a very early market, requiring much improvement that perhaps GE will eventually fund:

a) First of all, unless there is pattern analysis reporting about behavioral change over time, which to my knowledge QuietCare doesn't have, the product is little more than an alert mechanism on motion or absence of motion in a room. That puts it into the same questionable category as traditional PERS devices like Lifeline, for example. False positives for various reasons (vacation? a cat? what about roommates?). It provides someone a false sense of reassurance, when a frail elderly person still can slide out of a wheelchair or the bed onto the floor in the middle of the night and QuietCare (or Lifeline) are both useless.

b) It's great that it can alert for environmental factors like smoke, but an alarm system is more useful -- and can even handle break-ins, the most fundamental of technologies for seniors.

c) QuietCare is not integrated with any communications technology -- perhaps even a television with the near-defunct WebTV -- would be better than nothing for a senior to communicate with family members as well as be monitored for absence of motion.

d) Far more interesting would be a combination of wearable fall detection with environmental sensing -- monitoring a person (fall detection like Halo Monitoring and body temperature affected by fear or fever) and monitoring the environment, like HealthSense, QuietCare, or GrandCare.

e) Even more interesting will be the eventual usefulness of tracking capabilities that follow an individual more than 500 feet -- like PERS devices -- away from the house -- like cell phones.

For more analysis on the deal, check out Orlov's excellent Aging in Place Technology Watch post