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News Poll: Reader opinions vary on PERS offerings for the security dealer

67 percent see mPERS as a large technology in the market
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09/06/2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—Security Systems News asked its readers about personal emergency response systems and how the offering could fit in with a traditional alarm dealer’s portfolio; some see the two systems as different, others say there is opportunity for security dealers.

Medical alert systems: A current PERSpective

Four executives in the PERS or mPERS space weigh in on the technology today
 - 
09/06/2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—The PERS space has been evolving much in the past several years, now with several conferences that discuss the topic, including the MAMA annual meeting, Affiliated Monitoring’s Catalyst and The PERS Summit.

Tech use rising among older Americans

 - 
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I’ve been hearing a lot about PERS and mPERS lately. Specifically, I’ve been interested to hear views on how older PERS users feel about technology.

When discussing Essence’s Care@Home Active offering, which uses a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone, company head of marketing Rafi Zauer said, “The obvious question is: How many seniors have smartphones now-a-days? There’s ample evidence … [smartphone use] is going to become almost ubiquitous over the next few years with seniors for several reasons.”

Zauer continued, “The availability of old phones, or non-smartphones is depleting. … Plus, the baby boomers in the next few years are becoming seniors themselves, and we know baby boomers use smartphones almost across the board.”

Following that conversation, as well as others, I was interested to come across a new report from Pew Research Center, titled “Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” which looks at older Americans and their stance on technology.

The report’s authors, Monica Anderson, Pew Research Center research associate, and Andrew Perrin, research assistant, had some interesting figures about the way older generations could view technology.

The report reads: “recent Pew Research Center surveys find that seniors are also moving towards more digitally connected lives. Around four-in-ten (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the Internet—a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades. And for the first time, half of older Americans now have broadband at home.”

The report also mentions higher tech adoption in some areas among seniors that are younger, between ages 65 and 69. “Seniors ages 65 to 69 are about twice as likely as those ages 80 and older to say they ever go online (82% vs. 44%) or have broadband at home (66% vs. 28%), and they are roughly four times as likely to say they own smartphones (59% vs. 17%),” it read.

Though, the report also notes, that some seniors chose to “remain largely disconnected.” Anderson and Perrin write, “One-third of adults ages 65 and older say they never use the internet, and roughly half (49%) say they do not have home broadband services. Meanwhile, even with their recent gains, the proportion of seniors who say they own smartphones is 42 percentage points lower than those ages 18 to 64.”

I’ll be curious to find out if increased technological familiarity among seniors will change the way PERS devices are designed in the years to come. 

Affiliated and Essence USA launch new PERS program

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UNION, N.J.—On Monday, connected living solutions provider Essence USA announced a new program, created in partnership with Affiliated Monitoring, to benefit dealers of Essence’s PERS products.

“The fully customizable program gives dealers a range of options about how to best run their PERS offerings, including order fulfillment - direct to the consumer or distributed to the dealer, customer service, invoicing and collections, equipment retrieval and refurbishment, and branding options,” the announcement read.

“PERS is a major focus at Affiliated,” Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated’s vice president, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be able to provide this advanced system to our dealers who are interested in a turnkey PERS program.”

“We can customize a program for any dealer to make it easier to get into PERS,” Affiliated Managing Director Mike Zydor said in the announcement. “For the dealers already in the market, we can provide access to preprogrammed, leading-edge products at discounted rates.”

Essence’s Care@Home suite of PERS products benefits both dealers and end-users, Essence said in its announcement. The offering has a large radio communications range for devices, “allowing users maximum flexibility in moving around their home and property. They also offer a wide variety of safety and security sensors, giving dealers an attractive and scalable offering for their customer base,” the announcement said.

“Essence is on the forefront of in-home PERS technology and has a veteran management team behind it,” said Yaniv Amir, President, Essence USA, in the announcement. “Essence historically has only worked directly with larger players in the space, and we are excited to now bring our products to all Affiliated dealers.”

The program is scheduled to launch within the Affiliated dealer network at the end of May.

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.

Tunstall offers no-cost temperature monitoring

 - 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tunstall Americas announced its new Vi+ personal emergency response system earlier in the month, with an integral sensor for ambient temperature. Yesterday, the company announced that extreme temperature monitoring will be provided free of charge to its subscribers.

“Record breaking heat across the United States this summer prompted Tunstall Americas to offer Temperature Extremes monitoring free of charge to subscribers of their home based medical alert service,” the company said in the release.

“Environmental changes indicate that the frequency and severity of heat waves will continue. We are pleased that we are in a position to offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to our current and future subscribers of our Vi Medical Alert System at no additional cost,” Casey Pittock, president and CEO of Tunstall Americas, said in a prepared statement.

The system will look for temperatures either above 89 degrees Fahrenheit or below 50 degrees, at which point the subscriber or caregiver will be notified.

Extreme temperatures specifically concern many of the typical PERS users. “Tunstall’s core base of subscribers, the elderly, individuals with chronic conditions, and other at risk populations have been reported to be the most vulnerable to extreme heat related illness,” the company said.

Tunstall Americas operates its own monitoring centers in New York and Rhode Island. 

A voice on the PERS market

 - 
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Voice activation has been an interesting topic that I’ve seen coming up more frequently when I hear about PERS—most recently when I spoke with Ritch Haselden, VP of sales at Essence Group, this week about Essence’s upcoming products, and what it takes to include voice activation. 

One of the things he highlighted in the company’s product roadmap is Essence’s VPD, and Haselden told me a lot about what went in to setting up voice capabilities in the company's VPD—standing for Voice Panic Detector. "The VPDwill be available for purchase this summer and is expected in the next few weeks," Haselden said.

“What that’ll allow somebody to do is be able to activate a pendant by saying a particular phrase of a particular series of words,” he said. The product is always listening for a particular phrase, he said, and when it hears that phrase it would act like a button press on the PERS unit.

Haselden said that, further on down the road, Essence could use voice activation to open up two-way dialogue with the central station.

The company has been testing the phrase “Call 911,” Haselden said. The process of picking a phrase to test was intensive, he said, making sure that it wasn’t common enough to be said in everyday conversation or on the television, but still easy to remember.

Testing involved a large variety of different people, saying the test phrase, “Call 911,” in a variety of pitches. “We’ve been testing in all kinds of different scenarios to make sure that we’re really getting down to a really quality product that provides a low rate of false alarms,” he said.

Essence would consider customized phrases for different companies if they requested such, Hasleden said, “Our process internally is we would at least test that phrase, but we’re definitely going to provide a lot of feedback and information on: Is that a phrase that (A) people can remember, (B) that people can actually articulate well, and (C) does the technology differentiate the words well enough so that it provides a solid response.” 

Report: More monitoring for mHealth devices

Perceptions about PERS users are something to overcome
 - 
07/20/2016

LONDON—The market for monitored mHealth devices is on the rise globally from 2016 to 2021, and North America will be the largest market in the forecast period.

Apple Watch SOS and mPERS: Apples and oranges?

PERS execs compare features, assess competition
 - 
07/14/2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—On first inspection, the Apple Watch’s newly announced ‘SOS’ feature may seem similar to an mPERS device, but PERS experts who spoke to Security Systems News said comparing an Apple Watch with an mPERS device is like comparing apples and oranges.

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.

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