How not to introduce technology in senior care communities

charge on top of the $2400-$3000/month living fee ‘elderly abuse’ and considering legal action.  Article.

Why would the introduction of a well-regarded remote sensor monitoring system, particularly one in market as long as QuietCare has been, engender this unprecedented upset?

QuietCare has had five years of successful introductions–and where it wasn’t, there were clear reasons why, generally concerning failure to secure resident and staff buy-in.  [Ed. Donna:  I headed marketing for the developers of QuietCare, Living Independently Group, 2006-9] Here, evidently someone forgot the obvious–you actually need to market the system to the residents and the families paying for it.

  1. $200/month is not only a steep charge, it’s one with a hefty markup–according to the Fort Pierce article, GE stated its monthly cost is about $90.  Residents are on fixed incomes that have declined with interest rates, families can’t fill the gap.  While equipment has to be paid for over time in addition to monthly monitoring fees, a 100% markup is an easy target for anger.
  2. It’s presented as a separate and new charge, across most if not all levels of care.  This may be because of the contract, the belief that the system truly benefits all–and also, once installed, the ‘standard of care’ is established.  Opt-outs then become a liability issue.  But these are explainable points and liability can be managed, as it is every day in these settings.
  3. Residents and families were notified by letter rather than by family meetings held later–which turned into flak-catching sessions, preventing a reasonable discussion of (1) and (2).

Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology blog has substantial, broader commentary here, starting with comments on an earlier posting about QuietCare’s acquisition by GE.  Based on some of the comments, it also seems that internal marketing to the staff–the faces residents see and trust every day, and who are the ones taking action on QuietCare data–was also forgotten in the rush to deploy.

No one seems to dispute that the system works in maintaining a better level of resident health, helping to prevent falls and to lengthen stay in AL. Yet here is an effective technology, undermined by its ineffective introduction in at least several of the SLC communities.

What does this teach other eHealth providers trying to enter the IL/AL market?  What would you do, especially if your technology is a per-month expense?

Can our UK readers suggest how, with their longer experience, they would have approached getting buy-in from the residents–and staff?

3 thoughts on “How not to introduce technology in senior care communities

  1. QuietCare Product Intro

    The input in Telecare Aware and Mobihealthnews on the issues raised by Laurie Orlov’s blog and the articles all point directly to a primary reason caregiving technology has come to the plate before and struck out. This issue doesn’t even have anything to do with technology. It is all about coming into a marketplace thinking we are smart enough to know our customers because we knew an old person once.

    I hope all of the companies that are developing all this great gear will get connected to the geriatric managers, social workers, and others with in-depth knowledge about the point of view, needs, and wishes of the elderly and their caregiving families. If we don’t get smarter quicker we might just find ourselves missing the ball again.

  2. The tech company has the critical role in successful ‘downstream’ deployment

    The failure here (as I see it) is that even senior communities and their parent companies who supposedly know all about senior care can turn quite clueless when it comes to the wants, needs, thoughts and opinions of their individual residents and staff when it comes to adopting technology. This is also true of care staff (DONs, social workers, GCMs) who can be surprisingly tech-phobic and reluctant to change.

    This is where the ‘downstream’ part comes in…the hard, usually thankless work of training, IT, marketing and sheer convincing that has to take place (in marketing-land, definitely not the glamor spot.) What John is saying is that the tech company cannot just take the sale and walk away. The tech company has to attach a ‘string’ to the sale–the implementation plan string. You cannot leave it to senior management (on both sides) who think they can wave a magic wand and it all falls into place!

    It means the tech company has to fully understand the users and not go on gut or assumptions about them: the older adult residents (and their differing needs and attitudes) and the care staff who must use and take action on the data. Especially this last group has a wide range of attitudes, abilities and knowledge that are not easily discerned until you work with them.  The tech company works with both to develop an implementation, rollout, training and marketing plan–and buy-in . And it needs to allocate a project head to the customer to lead a responsible, accessible project/account management team who will see to this.

    The responsibility ultimately is the tech company’s to ensure all of this. And they have to be firm about their participation, measure of control and responsibility, even at the risk of losing the sale–because if it is badly implemented it will be lost anyway.

  3. How not to introduce technology in senior care communities

    Put the 4 ethical principles first, particularly beneficience (the benefit for the end user) and autonomy–how will it enhance the older person’s freedom and choices about how they go about their daily life, without being forced to depend on carers. (

    Back it up with the experience of end users, professional users and families, and listen carefully to how they view the outcomes of using activity monitoring. It is likely to change views about the capabilities of an older person, usually for the better. Add a very large dose of training and support for professionals who will be using or introducing this technology to the end users. It’s expensive and painfully slow, but that is what is needed in this very fledgling market.

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