Group of men discussing the benefits of the Apple iPhone 7 and its operating system.
Behold more startup efforts to help with care. You must admire this. The energy and entrepreneurial enthusiasm driving new entrants is astounding. And if at first, an idea does not take hold, note the founder of that one may appear in a new variant. You know that doctors can now bill for end-of-life conversations. And no surprise, a tool emerges that helps doctors with these conversations. One adds to the lengthy nationwide list of ‘telephone reassurance’ service providers. And there is even a directory. The offerings below are selected from recent press releases, startup finalists, and conversations. Note that the alphabetically-listed material is all drawn from the content provided by the companies:
Caregoals. “Caregoals gives you the confidence to have conversations that are relevant and meaningful to your patient’s life and care preferences. Measure, track and gain insight from patient data over time and predict future challenges that may face your patient. Caregoals provides you with the information to confidently initiate difficult conversations and give your patient a roadmap for successful outcomes.” Learn more at Caregoals.
CareZapp. “More than just an app, this holistic platform enhances in-home caregiving, allowing patients to communicate with, not only their doctors, but their families and other similar patients to provide social support. It also has a resource listing of local service providers, and can alert a patients’ contacts when the system recognizes they may need assistance or reminders.” Learn more at CareZapp.
Iamfine. “As the leading telephone reassurance service provider in the industry, Iamfine sees this growth as validation of an elder care market need and an optimistic sign for the future of aging in place services. The Iamfine service provides an easy way for people who are living alone to check in every day, letting their loved ones know they are all right. No technology is required other than a telephone. Each day, the service makes a call to the person living alone. By simply answering the phone and pressing “1”, the loved one informs members of a customizable “care circle” that things are fine. If no one answers, calls are repeated throughout the day, and care circle members are notified that someone may need to check on the loved one.” Learn more at Iamfine.
Sen.se ThermoPeanut. “Sen.se, an early pioneer of the Internet of Things industry, today announced the availability of ThermoPeanut™, an affordable, intuitive smart sensor that can monitor temperature in-and-around the home to provide alerts and trigger automated interventions in response to heat fluctuations. Already known for its Mother smart home platform, ThermoPeanut is the first product in a line of smart sensors called SensePeanut™ that are designed to drastically simplify various connected capabilities. Priced at just $29, each SensePeanut has its own set function, task or habit it can monitor allowing anyone with a smartphone or tablet to take advantage of the connected life revolution.” Learn more at ThermoPeanut.
Vitalitix. “Following a new phenomenon called ‘crowd-caring,’ the Vitalitix social-responsibility platform provides three-way communication between seniors, caregivers and community “social angels” as well as volunteers from existing networks. The idea is to reduce loneliness, improve safety and allow more freedom at home and out. The senior can access the app, now in beta, through any wearable device or smartphone.” Learn more at Vitalitix.
Five hearing tech announcements that could benefit older adults
Hearing technology advances — the hearing aid industry considers changing. It’s a positive when you see disruption of industries that have too tight a lock on the consumer, whether it is in categories of health insurance, telecom carriers or hearing aids. You spend time with people everywhere you go – those with significant hearing loss but no hearing aids; they have hearing aids, but hate to wear them.
According to a recent NY Times article, two-thirds of adults over 70 have hearing loss that warrants hearing aids, but only 15-30% of those wear them – and at $5000 a pair, no wonder.
In recent years, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) that are not classified as hearing aids and thus do not require the audiologist role, though the FDA may change that. Just asking, if the device is called a ‘Wearable,’ does Silicon Valley find it more worthy of funding? But anyway.
In July, Consumer Reports published an explanatory guide that should be required reading for organizations that serve older adults. It would seem to be the wild west of innovation. Here is a sampling of five recent product announcements:
- ReSound. The firm “introduced a new model to the award-winning ReSound LiNX2™ family: the world’s only mini behind-the-ear (BTE) model to feature Made for iPhone. In addition, the mini BTE also features telecoil capabilities. ReSound LiNX2 is the world’s first internet-connected hearing aid, connecting to the internet to locate misplaced hearing aids. This new model enhances the award-winning ReSound Smart Hearing portfolio, giving users even more choices to meet individual preferences and hearing loss needs.” Learn more at Resound.
- Oticon. “Technological limitations of current hearing aids have led to the use of tunnel directionality: Speech coming from the front is clear, whereas the rest of the sound environment is suppressed. This results in a limited, narrowed and artificial listening experience. With new, groundbreaking technology, Oticon Opn™ is fast and precise enough to analyse and follow the soundscape and differentiate between sounds. Even in complex listening environments, this allows Oticon Opn™ to constantly open up and balance individual sounds to deliver a rich and meaningful soundscape, empowering the brain to choose on which sounds to focus.” Learn more at Oticon.
- Eargo. Silicon Valley based startup that “offers an entry-level rechargeable hearing aid (FDA class I medical device) that it sells directly to consumers. Eargo is a near-invisible in-the-canal device offering four volume settings. Developed by a French ENT, it features patented silicone “flexi-fibers” that enable the device to sit comfortably deep in the ear canal while letting air and natural sound flow freely to the eardrum. At $1,980 per pair, the Eargo hearing aids are more expensive than many of the new off-the shelf “hearables” (classified as personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs, by the FDA), but less expensive than the higher end hearing aids fitted by audiologists.” Learn more at HearingTracker.com.
- Cochlear. “Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, announces today it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its newest innovative hearing loss solution, Kanso. The Kanso Sound Processor provides a distinct new way for cochlear implant users to hear. Unlike most hearing aids and current cochlear implant sound processors that are worn on the ear, Kanso is a small, off-the-ear hearing device that provides a more discreet hearing solution and delivers the same hearing experience as a behind-the-ear sound processor.” Learn more at Cochlear.
- iHearMedical. “iHear® Medical announced today the launch of the world’s first online hearing solutions platform. The company begins taking orders today for its flagship invisible iHEARHD® hearing aid, and the iHearTest™, which recently received landmark FDA approval as the first and only home hearing screener. Delivery of iHear products starts July 15, 2016. The company also plans to launch the iHEARMAX™, a mini behind-the-ear hearing device, on August 15, 2016. iHear’s products are currently being offered in the U.S., with plans to introduce them in China and other markets in 2017.” Learn more at iHearMedical.