PERS features debated at AvantGuard summit

Fall detection, networking opportunities stand out at event
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah— Attendees debated the demand for “fall detection” in PERS devices at AvantGuard’s third PERS Summit, held here last week.

The conference featured a panel discussion on fall detection, titled “Fall Detection… Is it the ‘Holy Grail’ of PERS?” Representatives from PERS manufacturers Climax, Mytrex and Numera led the presentation.

Josh Garner, AvantGuard’s CEO, summarized the opinions shared in the session: “Dealers need to have it in their repertoire to offer clients, but at the end of the day it’s a very small use case. By and large, pushing a button is going to be the best, most effective way to get help.”

Bryan Stapp president of Medical Care Alert—a Northville, Mich., PERS dealer monitored by Rapid Response, said, “I think people recognized that [fall detection is] something that consumers want, and that it’s a useful technology, but it is an evolving technology that will continue to get better.”

Stapp also expressed a concern that fall detection would lead users out of the habit of pushing the PERS’ button, which remains the most reliable method of getting help, he said. “The fall detection technology should be considered as a redundant back-up system, but, as long as you have the ability, you should still press the button.”

Derek Carter, vice president of tech services for Healthcom, called fall detection a nice feature, but “I don’t think people necessarily buy a PERS unit because it has fall detection.”

Healthcom is a PERS dealer monitored by AvantGuard. Carter has attended each of the three PERS Summits AvantGuard has hosted.

Outside of the educational sessions, Garner said that networking events included an aerial ski jump show, zip lining and an alpine slide.

“The fact that we actually went away [from the meeting spaces] and did some fun stuff really helped to break down barriers so that it was just faster and easier to meet a lot of people,” said Bob Kelley, president of ResponseNow Medical Alert Systems and first-time attendee.

ResponseNow is a national PERS dealer which uses several central stations, including AvantGuard, for monitoring.

Stapp said attendees included a balanced “cross-section” of different people, including PERS providers, financial advisors, manufacturers and legal advisors. “It’s very beneficial just to get a little preview into what [manufacturers’] technology road maps are looking like so that we can get ahead of it.”

Kelley said an educational session by Henry Edmonds, of the Edmonds Group, on increasing the value of a PERS business “helped me to keep focused on things we can do to maximize the value of our company … like a little more effort to reduce attrition rate.”

The conference also featured a survey, conducted by TRG Associates, covering customer retention rates, average length of PERS use, rates and attrition and compiled results for the conference. Carter said he found these statistics to be very beneficial in providing an industry “barometer” for how Healthcom is doing.

Better understanding the PERS industry is a large benefit for Healthcom attending the show, Carter said. “It gives us perspective … it gives us the ability to see what other companies are doing.”

Author Russ Johnson spoke at the conference, Garner said. He “talked about the importance of having fun as part of a company culture, … a broad, general topic that could apply to any business. And that was really good.”

“We had a great time, a great turnout,” said Garner, estimating 160 attendees total. While the total number of attendees was similar to the last PERS Summit, Garner said there were more companies represented and fewer spouses of attendees. “So, we think we had a higher number of companies represented at the show [than the last summit].”

Carter says that AvantGuard has quickly refined the process for the summit, “It’s really getting to be a well-oiled machine.” The event was well-balanced, according to Carter, “There’s a proper amount of networking time, there’s a proper amount of seminar time—with motivational speakers, with industry people—and there’s a proper amount of off-site fun.”

Garner explained why the summit is held every other year: “In a one-year time frame, there may not be enough changes in the PERS industry to really be exciting. But, in two-years’ time frame, there’s a lot of change that can happen.”

As an example, Garner pointed to AvantGuard’s growth in mPERS across the last two years. Two years ago, mPERS made up only about only 1 percent of AG’s total PERS base, he said. “Today, mobile PERS represents … 36 percent of the overall PERS base at AvantGuard.”

In another two years, it could be 50 percent, he said.