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Richard Brooks

Capturing the magic of Catalyst 2019 with these “need-to-knows” about PERs, mPERS and professional monitoring

 - 
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Earlier this month, I attended Catalyst 2019, hosted by Affiliated Monitoring, at the “happiest place on Earth,” where “magic” literally happens moment by moment. With two main goals—education and networking/relationship building—this year’s Catalyst provided a ton of “magical” nuggets that all PERS and mPERS professionals need to know.

Need to Know Data

Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated Monitoring’s CEO, pumping up the audience with his keynote and survey results from Edmonds Group: in 2017, PERs signed up 1.4 million service customers. This data is significant, because up until then, the PERs industry didn’t have good data revealing the size of this niche industry.

Oppenheim continued on, explaining how professional monitoring protects our 911 system: Of the 3.4 million active PERs customers, 51 percent press their button every month. This results in 1,734,000 professional monitoring interventions per month, saving 166,464 lives per month and preventing 1,567,536 calls to 911 per month. To continue “protecting seniors and giving peace of mind to caregivers,” Oppenheim suggested the need for professional monitoring companies to partner with government entities.

Need to Know Challenges

The top three PERs company challenges are:

1.    Telecom changes – The National Center for Health Statistics found 24 percent of those aged 65 and older have do not have a landline phone and within the next five years, VoIP adoption is expected to see a 124 percent growth rate.
2.    The 4G transition – Carriers say there will be no new 3G Sim activations after THIS summer, with the 3G network forecasted to shut down by February 2022.
3.    “Self-monitoring” and overcoming customer objections – Educating customers as to why PERs and professional monitoring is needed when there are so many smart devices on the market today, including smart speakers and watches, and emergency alert apps.

Need to Know Telemarketing Insights

Michele Shuster, partner, MacMurray, Petersen & Shuster, LLP took the Catalyst stage, gave some important advice regarding:

•    Third-party lead generation (gen) – if you purchase leads, know exactly where the company is getting those leads from; make sure lead gen contracts include “callable leads,” meaning the consumer understood that by providing their information they will be contacted; train your staff on how to make calls lawfully and audit using scrubbers. Shuster also said if you receive a letter threatening to get sued because one of your company representatives called a consumer, do not ignore the letters; be proactive by obtaining legal advice.
•    Consumer data – if your company has collected sensitive data about consumers and that information isn’t needed, get rid of it.
•    STIR/SHAKEN – make it a point to understand this new technology standard to ensure calling numbers aren’t spoofed, or the calling telephone number is not altered.

Shuster explained that basically, a trust token is issued from a telephone company, authenticating all the company’s phone numbers. The type of token issued dictates whether your call will get through without harmful labels being placed on it, or even getting blocked.

Need to Know Business Operation Tips

Richard Brooks, president, healthcare division, ConnectAmerica, gave the executive keynote, with business tips interspersed throughout:
•    Your teams make you successful; make sure each team member knows their jobs and their importance to the overall success of your PERs business.
•    Build “on-ground” relationships; you have to actually “touch” people so get “feet on the street.”
•    Your employees are your most important asset because they talk to your customers, sell your products and serve people.
•    Employees need to understand everything they do can impact a life.
•    As your PERs business grows, it’s impossible to do everything, so hire a management team to help with leadership.
•    For small PERs businesses, emphasize you’re the “local PERs provider” because seniors like local.
•    Local relationships are key for small PERs companies getting bought by larger companies. Know the key local people, interact and establish a good relationship. Brooks also advised keeping great books and records, staying on top of cash receipts.

Attending events is an exciting part of my managing editor role here at Security Systems News, which suites me to a tee because I love learning and then sharing my newfound knowledge with our amazing readers.

Connect America's Healthcare Division acquires

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

BALA CYNWYD, Pa. and PETALUMA, Calif.—Connect America, a large independent provider of PERS devices in North America, in early April announced that it acquired the Petaluma Health Care District's (PHCD) Medical Alert System Program, Lifeline of the North Bay, based in Petaluma, Calif.

“Lifeline of the North Bay will become Connect America West and serve as a base to expand the reach of Connect America's Healthcare Division throughout the state of California, bringing medical alert and mobile alert products, as well as Telehealth services, remote patient monitoring and medication dispensing systems, to a broader range of customers,” Connect America said in its announcement.

"Our Healthcare Division will continue to add to our nationwide footprint through similar acquisitions, as well as organic growth through our sales team," Richard Brooks, Healthcare Division president for Connect America, said in a prepared statement. "Strategic acquisitions like Lifeline of the North Bay, a premier Medical Alert System Program in California, enable us to establish a presence as a market leader in each new area that we enter and to build on the strength of the reputation and referral network of the companies that we acquire."

Ramona Faith, PHCD's CEO said in the announcement, "Transitioning our program and current dedicated staff to Connect America, a leader and long-time provider in the life safety industry, will bring our subscribers and providers a wealth of systems upgrades, including the latest advancements in technology and monitoring services, as well as new services to enhance their experiences over the long term. We are proud to have built a strong, life-saving system led by dedicated staff serving six North Bay Area counties, and we are thrilled to have attracted Connect America to acquire and advance our program."

PERS provider acquires two

 - 
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BALA CYNWYD, Pa.—Connect America, a large provider of PERS products, recently announced two acquisitions through its Healthcare Division; Racine’s Medical Alert, based in La Junta, Co., and Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division, located near Des Moines, Iowa.

“We acquire…  local providers that really have a regional reach and the opportunity to grow those businesses by cultivating referral sources in the geography where they operate,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

By acquiring Racine’s Medical Alert, Connect America’s Healthcare Division expands into Colorado. The company will continue to use it’s Racine’s brand.

Brooks said that the purchase of Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division opens the company’s opportunities in the Des Moines. This division will fold into Connect America’s network in the Des Moines area.

These acquisitions complement the company’s July acquisition of Home Buddy, based in Kansas, Brooks said.

Brooks described the company’s approach to incorporating acquired businesses, “We enhance the sales and marketing operation, we take some of the back office functions and move them to our headquarters, and emphasize a sales effort on a local basis.”

Connect America’s Healthcare Division has finalized four acquisitions in the past 12 months and expects a similar rate for the next year, according to Brooks.

The Healthcare Division grows both organically and through acquisition; 70 percent of the division’s growth comes organically and 30 percent is through acquisitions. The company did not announce the number of subscribers included in the deal.

Connect America expands in Kansas

 - 
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Connect America, a multi-channel PERS and home medical distribution company based here, is growing its market presence in the central U.S. with its recent acquisition of Home Buddy, a Kansas based PERS and medical solution provider with about 4,000 subscribers.

“The goal is to grow that geography into Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa … to create a large regional base of operations for the business,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

Home Buddy has been in business for about 10 years, Brooks said. “It’s one of the largest providers of PERS in Kansas.”

While Home Buddy does not deal with alarm dealers, Connect America does, buying PERS accounts from a network of Alarm Dealers across the country, according to Brooks. “They’re a steady, reliable part of our business,” he said. Home Buddy distributes through “Medicaid-type agencies,” he said.

Discussions of the acquisition between the two companies started in late 2015, he said, and the deal closed in early May. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Connect America intends to keep the Home Buddy name, Brooks said, because its well known in the area and has existing contracts under that name.

Brooks said that his main goal with the company is building its healthcare division. “We grow organically, we have a sales force nationally, and they are locally meeting people to obtain referrals for our medical alerts,” he said.