GreatCall buys Healthsense, a monitoring service for seniors

Healthsense uses sensors to track daily activity, alerting caregivers if there's a change in routine

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 20, 2016
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Having watched both of my grandparents decline over a number of years (physically, in the case of my grandfather; and mentally, in the case of my grandmother), I really appreciate the idea of technology being used to help the elderly, and their caregivers, make that process much less painful. Aging is not easy, and they need all the help they can get.

One company that has made this is a priority is Healthsense, a provider of remote monitoring services for senior living communities, managed care and home care organizations. On Tuesday, it was announced that the Minnesota-based company was acquired by San Diego-based connected health company GreatCall. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed. 

Healthsense will be integrated into GreatCall and the company will be absorbing most of the Healthsense team, David Inns, CEO of GreatCall, told me. GreatCall will be working with the technology teams of both companies to determine how to best integrate the technology.

Founded in 2001, the Healthsense platform is an information solution that uses passive remote monitoring of senior citizens. It uses sensors to track their daily activities, providing a “trigger” to their caregivers that they are showing signs of illness. So, if there's a change in the normal routine, like they're sitting more or using the bathroom less, an alert will be sent to the caregiver, who will then follow up and make sure everything is ok. If there is a problem, the patient will receive prompt care from their doctor.

This type of solution allows the caregiver to detect problems early, treating them before they get out-of-control, and before they cause expensive, inconvenient, and lower-quality care. 

Seniors using Heathsense have been their costs go down. A study by Fallon Health found that those using Healthsense reduced total medical expenses by $687 per member per month, down nearly 16 percent. Healthsence users also saw a 32.2 percent reduction in fees for inpatient hospital visits, a 39.4 percent reduction in emergency department costs and a 67.7 percent reduction in expenses for long term care.

Founded in 2006, GreatCall is a connected health company creating devices for active aging. Its suite of mobile products include the Jitterbug Flip and Jitterbug Smart phones, as well as the Lively Urgent Response device, and Lively Wearable, a fitness tracker with an urgent response button.

The company also provides health, safety and medical apps, including Urgent Care, which gives 24/7 access to registered nurses and board-certified doctors; GreatCall Link, which keeps caregivers informed about the health and safety of family members with GreatCall products; MedCoach, which helps seniors stay on schedule with medications and refills; and 5Star, which gives seniors access to IAED (International Academies of Emergency Dispatch) Certified 5Star Agents who can offer assistance if they need help.

It was Healthsense that approached GreatCall about a potential acquisition, Inns told me. 

"Both companies have a similar culture, including a strong belief in the customer and customer service. Their technologies will allow for a broader solution," he said. "The acquisition is a key step in GreatCall’s growth strategy and overcall commitment to building its connected health portfolio and exposure in senior living and healthcare."

For Healthsense, becoming part of GreatCall allows the company to expand its reach.

“GreatCall is the ideal partner to take the company to the next level,” A.R. Weiler, Healthsense CEO and president, said in a statement. “We know that older adults want to age independently as long as possible, and the technology and support that GreatCall can provide will allow more of them to achieve this goal.”

Healthsense had raised $44.07 million in venture funding, including a $2.5 million round in February of this year. Investors in the company have included Mansa Capital, Ruben King-Shaw, Jason Torres, Jim Renna, Radius Ventures, Global Healthcare Innovation fund and .406 Ventures.

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