Connected PERS devices to quadruple by 2017

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 29, 2013        

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Numera Home Hub

The Numera Home Hub is connected to AT&T's cellular network.

Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Parks Associates, believes M2M, cellular-connected devices for home monitoring and, especially, aging in place, are ripe to take off in the next few years.

InĀ a column at E-Commerce Times, Wang shared some new Parks data about the role of machine to machine computing (M2M) in aging in place technology, likely from his forthcoming report “Independent Living at Home: Second Edition.”

Parks sees aging in place and remote home monitoring as the two largest growth opportunities in consumer health for M2M. The firm estimates there are about 18 million caregivers in the United States. More than a third of them would pay for a fall detection service and more than a quarter would pay for telehealth or location tracking services, Wang wrote.

M2M technology offers advantages over traditional personal emergency response system (PERS) devices that the firm predicts will drive growth in adoption of M2M computing. Cellular-connected PERS devices have boomed in the last 18 months, Wang said, for two reasons. One, many households no longer have landlines at all and need a cellular device. Additionally, if the cellular connectivity is embedded directly into a mobile panic button or wearable pendant or bracelet, seniors are able to leave the house and be truly mobile, while still being covered in the event of a fall or emergency.

“Although still a relatively small market (fewer than 400,000 cellular-enabled units will ship in 2016), it will enjoy high growth in the near term,” Wang writes. “Parks Associates estimates more than 61 percent of the new PERS products shipped in 2017 in the US will feature cellular M2M connectivity, compared to only 15 percent in 2012.”

This trend is being driven by two main factors, Wang suggests. On the one hand, people are living longer, but not necessarily living with better health. On the other hand, rising healthcare costs are spiking an interest in home care, diagnosis, and monitoring as a cost-saver for providers, health plans and consumers.

Wang lists some examples of carrier partnerships with M2M devices, including AT&T working with Glowcap-maker Vitality, Telcare’s wireless glucose monitor, now working with Telenor (the company was previously connected via T-Mobile), and Sprint working with both Ideal Life and BodyMedia on chronic disease management and fitness, respectively.

  • ak

    18 million caregivers?!?! Thousands maybe?

  • MobiHealthNews

    Not according to the research firm: Parks estimated 18M households have at least one caregiver.

  • Laurie Orlov

    This is, shall we say, optimistic, given the starting point of ‘400,000 cellular-enabled devices’. The PERS market today is based on an average age buyer/consumer who is an 82 year old woman. Even with a raft of new mobile entrants, the consumer concept of PERS is perceived to be primarily useful in and around the home (no mobile). If you are calling the wireless health monitoring market PERS or if you are calling the Fitness market PERS, then any number will do.

    As for 18 million caregivers, there are more than that according to the Family Caregiver Alliance at “43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.”

    If a third of any-sized caregiver market would pay for fall detection in a PERS product by 2017, how does one get from here in 2013 to there — today there is very little demand for fall detection, which has never been a product, and at best it is a feature of other products like Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert or GoSafe, since its utility is based on the premise that the user CANNOT push a button to call for help. And for the most part, the traditional PERS reseller market has yet to offer it.

    For an analysis of the future of this segment that includes10000 user surveys, please take a look at Next Generation Response Systems 2013, published in March at:

    Other opinions on this are welcome.