San Diego-based GreatCall, a seller of aging in place technologies purchased by Best Buy last year, is launching an updated version of its retail personal emergency response system. Called the Lively Mobile Plus, the new 4G LTE wearable can automatically contact urgent response agents when detecting a fall, or with the push of a button.
To start, changes to the device’s internal chipset and design allow the Lively Mobile Plus to run for up to 80 hours before recharging, as opposed to the original device's 24-hour lifespan. John Chin, VP of product development at GreatCall, stressed that this newfound longevity as well as the new device’s broader network connectivity are the product of a strategic partnership between the aging tech company and Qualcomm.
“Of course this product line is meant to be something that’s very, very reliable, but we wanted to really push the envelope on this iteration, and we wanted something that was industry leading in quality and reliability and be able to claim that it is the highest standard in medical alerts,” Chin told MobiHealthNews. “We were able to accomplish that by partnering with an industry leader that provides an amazingly reliable platform that supports the 4G network. Through that partnership, we’ve been able to produce one of the most reliable 4G LTE devices that allows quicker connections and better voice quality and with advanced GPS for better accuracy and power consumption.”
The Lively Mobile Plus is waterproof, and includes an integrated speaker and microphone for voice conversations with certified emergency dispatch agents. While the wearer can initiate these calls by holding down the wearable’s single button, the Lively Mobile Plus can also initiate an emergency alert with a manual tap of the button or with its onboard fall detection capabilities.
“[The responders] have your personal emergency profile, so they can give better assistance to you depending upon any reason that you may be calling,” Chin said. “They have information that you volunteer, such as the medications you may be taking, what allergies you may particularly have. Whatever the case may be, they’re able to give very very customized service, and with the training they have this customized profile and with the GPS technology, we’re able to give some of the best responses in the industry in terms of response times and accuracy.”
Each device is also paired with an app, with which family members or other caregivers can upload the user’s emergency profile or stay in the loop when a response is triggered. The app can also be used to keep an eye on a senior’s current location, although Chin stressed that these kinds of “Big Brother” surveillance features are only enabled with the senior’s blessing.
“[The app is] for the family caregivers so they’re alerted whenever there is an incident for the loved one that they may be advised and followed up so that they can be sure that their loved one can be taken care of,” Chin said. “As for how often [they’re monitored], it’s up to the person [to determine] how much access they want you to have. It’s not a 24-7 — there are certainly incidences that we will publish to the Link app to alert the caregiver of some event, but it’s not intended to be a 24-7-type monitoring solution. We can see if they got home okay, we can see if they got to their doctor’s appointment on time. It’s an app that’s intended to give the comfort and peace of mind to the caregiver that their loved one is taken care of.”
The Lively Mobile Plus is available for retail purchase at $49.99, with a subscription to the accompanying emergency services coming at an introductory pricing of $19.99 per month.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
Personal emergency response systems like the Lively Mobile Plus allow seniors to maintain their independence, while quicker access to emergency services could improve outcomes for the three million older people who, according to the CDC, are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall-related injuries.
And along with its primary marketing as a consumer device, GreatCall noted in an email follow-up that “the device is also a meaningful enhancement to the managed care and home health care systems. … In a commercial setting, the Lively Mobile Plus provides peace of mind for patients/residents, alleviates strain on caregivers and provides peace of mind.”
WHAT’S THE TREND
Since its acquisition, GreatCall has launched a senior ride service called “GreatCall Rides” with Lyft and opened a new “caring center” location for its emergency responders in the San Antonio area. Just last month, CEO David Inns sat down with MobiHealthNews for a lengthy discussion on how his company views the broader role of technology in senior care.
As for the rest of the fall detection market, a number of tech companies are exploring how alternative form factors like smartwatches, hearing aids and wall-mounted devices could improve adherence and outcomes.
ON THE RECORD
“We certainly make products that are applicable to individual needs in [the aging] demographic, but this one is one that we take great pride and care because we hear so many stories about how the device helped people with very serious incidents … so that they can remain independent and still very, very connected,” Chin said.