The current generation of medical alarm systems hasn’t been substantially updated for a few decades. The systems consist of a wireless push button and a console with a speakerphone. The devices have historically been simple and reliable. But not much innovation.
But things are rapidly changing. A new generation of systems has arrived.
Some of these have the speakerphones in the pendants, others have a nurse call feature, sophisticated fall detectors with algorithms that work 97% of the time. Mobile PERS with GPS built in. Which products are winners? What companies will fail and close their doors? And what about the core problem of disappearing POTS phone lines and clients switching to less reliable bundled VOIP solutions and broadband. There are dangers of moving too fast into new unproven technology, and pitfalls of falling behind competitors in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Not to mention the danger of overblown performance claims, and underperforming units that could put a clients life at risk. Some companies have killed their clients with neck cords that didn’t break away when a client fell and cord tangled around a walker.
Some recent examples. New PERS manufacturing company comes to market with speakerphone built into pendant . Aggressive advertising campaign recruit many new players into PERS business. Manufacturers advertises all legacy products obsolete. Company gets in bed with major distributor partner and pretty soon many new competitors appear all over the internet. Two months earlier, these competitors didn’t know what a medical alarm was. Distributor buys thousands of these units to push through to new PERS companies. Companies start selling products. Seniors buy products and discover they are six times size of normal pendants. Heavy and Bulky. Difficult to change batteries. Not really waterproof in shower. 2/3 of the units get returned. New companies unhappy with their new found business failure. Distributor unhappy, units sit in warehouse. Manufacturer gets into patent litigation. Company publicly traded. Shares hover around .01 per share. Total enterprise value $200K. Company still in business. Survival questionable.
Second manufacturing company makes newer smaller unit with speakerphone built in, with more easily changed batteries. But they forgot about the VOIP phone line issue…so the unit only works on POTS lines! Existing PERS manufacturers have been very slow to solve the problem of changing phone technology with VOIP and broadband becoming more popular daily. By the way, this would be a great product for a 10,000 square foot house or for the back yard. Not too many seniors in homes that size. We are waiting for the next generation of this product to solve the phone line issues and will consider offering it at that point.
Anyway, to summarize. Its a technology minefield. We look forward to new technology to offer our clients, but find cash starved companies rushing into market without doing all their homework. Field testing should be done by the companies, not the gullible seniors.
Call me old fashioned. I await solid new technology that is reliable.
I won’t sell it until I test it myself and I have a comfort level with the manufacturer financial strength. New technology is great, but at the end of the day we are in a life safety service business where saving lives and increasing independence are our goals. Gimmicks are cute.
Pioneer Emergency Response Services, Inc. provides the best medical alert systems technology has to offer. Click here to take a look.