The telecare device that knows you’ll fall before you do

Mother and daughter hugging
Healthcare in your hands: live independently for longer with Philips fall detection service

Panic-button pendants for the elderly are a lifesaver once someone has fallen – but even better is the new telecare device that might be able to summon help before the fall happens.

If you have elderly relatives, you will do everything you can to help them keep safe. Your loved one might already wear a panic alarm that they can press if they need help urgently.

Yet for many of us, there is always that nagging worry that they might have a fall and not manage to activate the alarm to bring medical assistance.

But now there is an answer to this problem. The new Philips HomeSafe Auto-Alert, which is being launched in the UK this month, is a telecare device that will detect if someone has had a fall and will call for help if that happens.

The device is worn as a pendant around the neck. It works by collecting data relating to altitude drop, velocity, orientation change and impact. By doing this, it will work out when a true fall has occurred and summon help from the care team.

It is the latest addition to the Philips range of solutions “connecting care for continuous health”.

Scientific solutions: the new Philips HomeSafe Auto-Alert will change care for the better

These solutions give a continuous flow of information about the well-being of an individual, improving the analysis and management of the care. At the same time it allows shared responsibility of the health of individuals and populations they live in. It promotes continuing health and proactive care from hospital to home.

Andy Cachaldora, business development director (UK and Ireland) for population health management at Philips, believes that the new monitoring system will help keep older people safer in their homes.

“The Philips HomeSafe systems are transforming falls management by a focus on proactive care,” he says. “Auto-Alert has the potential to improve the outcomes of older patients at risk of falls and fractures as its automatic fall detection means patients receive care when it is needed.”

Falling is the leading cause of injury-related death in the over-75s in the UK, according to the NHS. But even if a fall is not life-threatening, it can cause a broken bone that can have a significant impact on a person’s confidence and ultimately their own independence, especially if they live alone.

The Auto-Alert detects 95 per cent of true falls and is waterproof, which means it can be worn in the bath or shower – locations where falls can often occur.

This innovation has already been taken a step further in the US, with the system having the ability to predict when a fall will take place. This means that preventive measures can be established to stop that happening.

It is called the CareSage predictive analytics engine. It works by creating an algorithm from data collected from a wealth of historical sources, as well as real-time information from the individual patients. This creates a risk score of how likely they are to suffer a fall within a 30-day period. The multisensor device will be launched in the UK next year.

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The data is collected on the Philips HealthSuite digital platform and stored in the cloud. It can be accessed remotely by the care team.

“Traditionally, ‘panic care’ [the use of wearable alarms] is very much a reactive service,” says Mr Cachaldora. “In many cases the event happens and the person then enters the healthcare system.

“This technology advancement restores the independence of older and chronically ill people, as well as their families. Families will have a safety net knowing their relatives are supported when they are not there.”

Falls are potentially dangerous for the individual as well as being distressing for them and their families. They are also very costly to care providers such as the NHS.

“Falls in older people cost the NHS £2.3bn per year, with falls and fractures in the over-65s accounting for four million hospital bed days each year in England alone,” says Mr Cachaldora.

“Yet 27 per cent of hospitalisations might be avoided with proactive care. With their ‘intelligence to reduce hospitalisation’ mission, the HomeSafe innovations we are launching in the UK market are set to reduce pressure on health and social care budgets through the reduction in avoidable hospital admissions, as well as improved hospital outcomes and well-being.”

If the algorithm predicts an individual is at high risk of a fall, the appropriate clinicians or carers will be alerted. They can then assess what needs to be done to help the patient. This could simply involve telling a family member that their loved one needs checking on. If the dip in their health is more serious, medical experts or even the emergency services could be sent to them for more urgent attention.

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