CNN has a profile on telecare, focusing on two older users in South Carolina–which reminds you how infrequent telecare articles (at least in US) have become. The article is more detailed than most in outlining how the sensor-based system–in this case, GrandCare–works in the home and also its unique features such as connecting to vital signs monitors and the Trillium interactive touch screen.
There’s the usual diversion to the university (Oregon Center for Technology and Aging), a side note on robotics and a brief mention of competition in the Intel/GE partnership (but none of QuietCare). The usual mentions of ‘big brother’ and even the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts in an appearance to wag a finger for privacy’s sake. Perhaps it’s just this editor [Donna] being a bit cranky, but I wish writers would take a more engaging, personal and far less formulaic look at telecare. Save for GrandCare’s different features, the template for this article was written in 2006. Sensors monitor older people at home
Explaining the GrandCare pricing model
[Ed. Donna note: I invited Laura Mitchell, the Director of Business Relations for GrandCare Systems, to explain the pricing model for GrandCare as the (relatively high) upfront price followed by the high monthly cost is not explained. Basically, you can buy it or lease it, and in addition in the article, there’s a human caregiving fee added to the monthly cost. It is also, because of its complexity, a professionally installed system and the dealer/installer also trains the older person, families and caregivers on the system. Again the comparison is to private assisted living which can be $5000 to well over $12,000 per month in the US.]
In general, this type of solution will cost between $2-6,000 (depending on hardware model and sensors) and a monthly software maintenance fee – OR it can be leased instead for an upfront install cost and a range between $99-$299 per month. In this situation [in the article] there is the human caregiving fee built in.
Specifics: Upfront price includes hardware (computer), sensors (typically there are 10: ZW sensors are not too expensive $70-$100 a piece, the Bluetooth enabled sensors are a bit more – ranging from $250-$400 each). GrandCare software license (operating system and software on the hardware platform). Then, there’s the cost of installation. An authorized dealer will go in and provide a care assessment (determine which sensors are appropriate as well as hardware model). They will explain the system (often to multiple interested parties). They will set up the installation: make sure the system is set up, connected to an Internet connection, place the sensors in appropriate locations, set the family up online (give them user names, passwords, and access privileges) and perform a family orientation – help them learn to send communications, check in, print graphs and set up rules). Although, it’s easy to do–as it’s a new concept for individuals–it requires a bit of hand holding initially from the local installers. Without human interaction and intervention, this tech would not work. I couldn’t agree more that the solution should be catered to the needs and not the other way around.
The monthly software maintenance fee really includes the caregiver portal portion of the system – the online dashboard where the family logs in, password authentication, automated software updates as well as the automated call outs (calls, emails, texts) Now, this can be broken in to a small upfront with a higher monthly (if the dealer/provider includes in-home caregiving services, the price will obviously rise- as you heard on the CNN story, which included in-home services and response) or the resident can pay outright for the system and then a much lower software maintenance fee. There are built in costs for the authorized dealer/installer for installation and ongoing support.
Clearly, the price has nowhere to go but down – we don’t make our own hardware or sensors – so we are at the mercy of the hardware vendors. Clearly when we have enough volume, the prices will go down. We expect the Bluetooth wellness sensors will also go down in price. But – this is the way it’s always been with new technology (remember the price of the first laptops and cell phones)?
CNN didn’t even touch on the emotional, brain fitness, reminder, socialization and communication portion of the system – something that I feel is one of the best parts of the system – entertaining and enabling.