At TEDMED we were repeatedly warned about the problems facing our aging population and how the elderly would require tremendous resources and man-hours to care for. We had the opportunity to speak with Kian Saneii, CEO and Founder of Independa, and learn more about how his company is using technology to help the elderly maintain their independence.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What does Independa do?
KianSaneii: Independa offers a comprehensive, easy-to-use suite of Integrated CloudCare solutions to help the elderly remain independent longer, with greater safety, comfort and social well-being. Our company provides services including medication and appointment reminders, support for activities of daily living, and social engagement opportunities, and we are developing an ecosystem of wireless health, safety and environmental monitoring options.
Our solutions are designed to help professional caregivers – home care and home health providers, and senior living facilities – leverage various technologies to track care recipients’ health and well-being remotely. The elderly also gain simple, one-touch access to email, the Internet and social media, reducing isolation and loneliness and improving their quality of life.
Results include better, more cost-effective care and outcomes; happier, more independent care recipients; and peace of mind for older adults and their professional and family caregivers.
Our major service offerings are:
- The Caregiver Web App – a consolidated dashboard and control panel that caregivers use to create automatic medication and calendar reminders for the elderly, receive alerts if something may be amiss, and enable older adults to record Life Stories™.
- Angela™ – a social engagement solution that gives care recipients single-touch access to email, the Internet, video chats, photos, games, puzzles, social media, and medication and calendar reminders. Angela runs on a touchscreen tablet or a computer, and it will be coming soon to LG Electronics televisions in senior living facilities.
- Artemis™ – a suite of remote health, safety and environmental monitoring solutions. Scheduled for general availability in the second half of this year, Artemis will incorporate out-of-the-box, plug-and-play sensors, including health monitors (such as scale, blood pressure cuff, glucometer and pulse oximeter), as well as sensors to detect motion, pressure, flooding, room temperature, smoke, carbon monoxide and other conditions.
Medgadget: What problems is Independa focused on?
Saneii: Independa was founded to provide a not-yet-available all-in-one portfolio of solutions to address a set of growing issues, including:
- The rapid aging of our population. People 65 and older are now the largest population group in the United States, their numbers are projected to double (to 80 million) by 2040, and the 85-plus group is growing fastest, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Thus, there will be increasing numbers of older people, and fewer younger family members and professionals to care for them.
- Overwhelming desire among the elderly to stay in their own homes or the most independent kind of residence as long as possible. A survey by Clarity and The Ear Foundation found that 89 percent of older adults wanted to remain independent and that they most feared losing their independence (far more than they feared death).
- Skyrocketing costs of long term care. Two-thirds of respondents to a poll of California voters by The SCAN Foundation and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research said they couldn’t afford more than three months of nursing home care (at an average monthly cost in California of $6,000), and 42 percent couldn’t afford one month of such care.
- Growing availability of technology to enhance elderly independence through telecare.
Medgadget: How will Independa change healthcare?
Saneii: We are committed to changing the way healthcare and, more broadly, telecare is delivered, increasing quality while reducing costs. Our Integrated CloudCare solutions are designed to propel overall healthcare reform trends – moving from “sick care” to wellness and preventive care, improving management of chronic conditions (which account for the majority of U.S. healthcare spending), and decreasing healthcare costs.
More specifically for the elderly, we are helping healthcare providers offer better care more cost-effectively by using technology to enable remote care when providers can’t – and don’t necessarily need to – be there. Importantly, we’re making our solutions easy to deploy and use, maximizing their impact.
We’re also broadening the scope of care beyond healthcare, to include safety and environmental monitoring, as well as social engagement – all of which affect health outcomes, costs and ability to stay independent.
Medgadget: What advantages and challenges are associated with your products and services?
Saneii: Our solutions offer tremendous benefits for all involved – professional caregivers; elderly care recipients; and family members, who often live far away.
We enable professional caregivers to expand their range of services and care for more people, with higher-quality care and greater cost-effectiveness. For example, as we recently announced, national home care provider LivHOME will be adding a high-tech LivIndependa remote-care option complement its high-touch services. This enhancement will enable LivHOME to begin serving the elderly at an earlier stage. In addition, we have an agreement with LG Electronics to integrate our Angela solution into its in-room television sets in senior living facilities, extending the array of services available.
Our tools are designed to improve the quality of care, health outcomes and social engagement – resulting in fewer hospitalizations and readmissions, fewer falls and other preventable accidents, and less social isolation. Real-time monitoring of vital health measurements, with preconfigured thresholds and alerts, enables caregivers to follow trends, determine whether a care recipient requires a personal visit, and intervene when necessary. For instance, medication reminders and related notifications for caregivers stave off trouble. AARP has estimated 1 in 4 adults age 65 or older skips doses of medication or does not fill prescriptions and suffers health consequences. Older people who forget to take their medications have health issues and fall 50 percent more often than those who follow prescription regimens. Social engagement through Angela also wards off isolation – the No. 1 problem for older adults living alone – and introduces fun.
Having a single, trusted source for a comprehensive array of telecare services saves time and money for professional caregiving organizations and family members, who don’t have to shop for services on unfamiliar turf and cobble together point solutions.
Avoiding institutional care improves quality of life and alleviates economic hardships for the elderly and their relatives. Importantly, Independa telecare provides peace of mind for care recipients and their professional and family caregivers.
Challenges in providing telecare for the elderly relate to areas in which Independa excels: 1) the need to select and integrate myriad kinds of devices, as well as connection hubs and data management tools, and 2) ease of use, particularly for older adults not acquainted or comfortable with newer technology.
Medgadget: What makes Independa unique, and what are the company’s goals?
Saneii: Our key market distinctions are our holistic, integrated, flexible approach, as well as ease of use for care receivers and caregivers.
Unlike the many providers of point solutions, the Independa platform supports a comprehensive, integrated suite of cloud-based solutions, encompassing automated reminders and alerts; health, safety and environmental monitoring; and social engagement, including email, Internet browsing, video chat, games, puzzles and recording of memories. We offer many options, geared to specific needs of our channel partners and their users. Our services can be delivered and accessed via a telephone, touchscreen tablet, or desktop or laptop computer, and are being adapted for in-room TVs. For care recipients without wireless devices or infrastructures, we have a feature that enables vital signs to be reported using a wireline or mobile phone and then digitized and combined with other data for instant caregiver viewing. Also, within the monitoring category, our approach calls for multiple alternatives for devices and wireless connection methods, with different levels of sophistication and price points.
Ease of use is another critical distinguishing factor for Independa. The popularity of Wii and the iPhone with the elderly demonstrates that older adults will embrace new technology if it is designed to meet their needs. The Angela interface doesn’t require knowledge of conventional computers. Angela comes preconfigured with larger screen fonts, higher contrast and brighter colors. It offers single-touch access to a world of social interaction. Elderly users don’t need to operate a mouse or a keyboard, or contend with blue screens, virus alerts, or software updates. Likewise, the Caregiver Web App provides caregivers a clear, unified view of care recipient’s personal health information, readily accessible on a computer or tablet.
Our goals are to help professional caregivers enable the elderly to live independently longer, more healthily, safely and comfortably, with greater social well-being. In so doing, Independa will play a key role in tackling major healthcare issues by empowering these caregivers to cost-effectively deliver higher-quality care, which will produce better outcomes and peace of mind. The recent closure of our seed round at an oversubscribed $2.35 million will support our efforts to continue enriching our offerings and extending our reach.
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