‘Sticky’ Smartwatch for Seniors Could Improve Home Health

Home health workers are tasked with figuring out a senior’s condition when they arrive at the home, often with little prior information. They also may be working with seniors who do not want to document their vitals regularly or change their routines as needed.

With these challenges in mind, one technology company is looking to streamline these documentation processes through means already familiar to a chunk of the population—smartwatches.

Minneapolis-based Reemo Health, a senior health technology company, partnered with Samsung two years ago to develop a smartwatch specifically aimed at seniors. And now the company is ready to wade into the home health space to demonstrate how the wearable device can ease the burden on caregivers.

Reemo enhanced Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 models by developing software that gathers information from the senior wearing it, such as heart rate, steps, body of movement, and GPS location. Then, the software conducts advanced analytics to provide data to the care provider that they can use to prevent hospitalizations, falls, and other undesirable outcomes.

“The device helps home caregivers have a fuller picture of their patients,” Reemo CEO John Valiton told Home Health Care News. “They can establish a normal baseline and see what’s happening when anything deviates from it, rather than showing up blind and trying to figure it out.”

Providing value to the health care system

Reemo has spent more than 350 hours in senior living communities to find ways to make the wearable device best serve caregivers, as well as the seniors wearing them.

“We asked ourselves, ‘how does this incorporate into the workflow of home caregivers?’” Valiton said. “Giving them another tool that takes up more of their day when they’re already too busy and under-delivered doesn’t help anybody.” 

The company partnered with Brentwood, California-based Teradata, a well-known data and analytics solutions provider, to incorporate retrospective data into the Reemo software.

Health care providers can examine the wearer’s data, including their activities and conditions prior to a hospitalization or fall. That retrospective data can help determine what happened and how providers can prevent the occurrence, keeping the patient at home. The smartwatch data can also be integrated on an electronic health record (EHR).

With Teradata as a partner, Reemo is connecting with solutions already used across the industry.

“Teradata is currently the analytics solution provider for three of the top four payers, 13 of the top 20 health systems, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) all sit on Teradata systems,” Valiton said. “So, as we build out our architecture and make it so that it can be easily combined into those platforms, it’s simple for health care providers to pick up and get to use cases that provide ROI to them as a system.”

Reemo is betting these adjustments will have an impact on the device’s usefulness among caregivers and seniors. When the software is attractive to the senior and seamlessly provides data to caregivers, it will be both used and useful, Valiton predicted.

“This is an ongoing, constant refinement of how to make sure this is a solution that is adding value and being ‘sticky’ to the senior to make sure it’s something that they’re going to want to keep wearing,” Valiton said. “Then we can get all of the outcomes and the benefits of the data piece. If they don’t find use or it’s not engaging in the first place, then you’re fighting an uphill battle from the beginning that you’re never going to win.”

Providing value to the senior

Reemo has made it a priority to ensure that seniors have a positive user experience when wearing the smartwatches. So, to ensure that the software is senior-friendly, the interface was simplified from its original design. The entire platform is cell-enabled, so it doesn’t need to pair to a phone—it’s ready to use, right out of the box. And Reemo has continued to refine the product.

“One thing we’ve learned is that in order for the senior to keep wanting to wear the device, there has to be value to them on a daily basis, and that’s not necessarily just sharing information,” Valiton said. “We had to think about what’s really important to them.”

This led to a partnership between Reemo and ADT, the electronic security company, to provide a simple-to-access 911 service. Seniors can push a button on the watch to connect to ADT’s call center.

ADT views each call as engagement, not a cost, said Valiton, which is one of the reasons Reemo chose it as a partner. When a senior connects to the call center, an ADT representative first determines if they need an ambulance. If it’s not an emergency, the representative can call a family member or just talk to the client for a few minutes if needed.

Reemo has also eliminated aspects that were not well-received by seniors, including gesture control—the ability to turn off lights, adjust thermostats and perform other simple tasks with the waive of a wrist. The function just wasn’t resonating with seniors, Valiton said, but it still uses some of the same algorithms for understanding quality of movement, according to Valiton.

At this point, Reemo has partnered with senior living communities including Mission Health and The Ohio Masonic Home. As the company focuses on refining its software to meet the needs of all senior living and health sectors, it is looking for opportunities to partner with home health providers.

Written by Elizabeth Jakaitis

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