EDITOR’S PEN

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Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief 

Caregiver Thought Leader


Carina Edwards, CEO – Quil Health

Gary Barg: Hi Carina, on Quil Health there is a phrase that I love, “Stop worrying & start Quillin’.” Can you tell me about Quil Health’s history, how it’s designed to help caregivers and seniors stop worrying?

Carina Edwards: We are a digital health joint venture between Comcast, NBC Universal and Independence Blue Cross. Two years ago, we pivoted the business to age tech, and supporting caregivers and their loved ones. We’ve launched our first product this August. So, it’s been an amazing adventure.

Gary Barg: What’s your history using this product?

Carina Edwards: Before we launched it, we conducted about 10 months of really in-depth, in-home trials, right? We had over 100 households connected because the solution is a non-wearable, but could include wearables.

The core solution is what we call a connected home designed system designed to give caregivers peace of mind and seniors their privacy. Think of it as home motion sensors and door detectors. We have panic buttons as well. We call them, “Don’t panic” buttons. If you happen to have Comcast at home, we have a TV channel on Comcast to educate caregivers and seniors. We also can work with the entire ecosystem of Apple, Alexa and all the wearables that are out there. We learn the patterns of the home and alert and detect things that change.

I say lovingly that I manage four people over 78 in my life. My dad and my stepmother live in a three-story townhouse. That’s a lot as they start aging. There’s been a fall. I put motion detectors on the third, second and first floor, a door detector on the garage door, the front door, and the back door. I also had a motion detector in the kitchen. Since my dad has an Apple watch, we connected that into the system. Now I get insights that are important to my dad’s state of health. He’s okay with me sharing his information. But he’s got some cardiac issues. He’s had some fall issues and balance issues. I get alerts and detections when his heartrate pattern changes significantly. I get alerts and detections when he might’ve been to the kitchen on average five times a day and he’s only been there twice today. I get alerts and detections when the temperature changes because, “Oops! I didn’t want to tell you the AC broke.” Those things that change from the baseline pattern. I know when he’s up and around. I know when they’re sleeping.

There’s no cameras. People want their privacy. But you want to know that mom’s okay. She’s up and around. She’s been to the kitchen. She’s doing well and if she leaves the house, the door detector tells me. That’s where the wearables come in handy because then I have location services so I know where they are. For caregivers, we’ve taken home security and flipped it on its head to give you insights and patterns. If they need emergency support, we give them choice.

In the Quil Assure App, you decide the set-up together with your senior. You sit down and ask them about their preferences. You sit down and ask, “Do you want this to escalate right to emergency support? Do you want someone to call you first? Do you want to call me first?” “Who do you want in the calling tree?”  We do that on about 20 different types of alerts and insights. Depending on the situation, if you have early Alzheimer’s, you might want a late-night text message if you notice someone’s not at home. So, we let them pick how they want to be handled and some will say, “I never want to call.” “Call my daughter.” “Call my neighbor.” “Call my nephew.” “Call my niece.” “Call my grandchild and they’ll figure it out.” It’s all about choice and it’s all about personalization.

Gary Barg:  It’s nice. You’ve set the parameters in respectful partnership with your loved ones. If there’s no issues, they never hear from anybody. But if something goes out of the parameters of their normal lifestyle, then at least you might want to investigate.

Carina Edwards: We’ve discovered UTI infections through more frequent bathroom visits. Regarding falls, we’ve placed buttons at the bottom of the stairs, even on baseboards and at the bottom of the bathroom. You need to be able to ask for help. We have a discussion guide on our website because I think caregivers need to be armed with such a guide when talking with senior loved ones. One of the most asked questions we get is, “How tech savvy do they have to be?” They don’t at all. My stepmother is not tech savvy at all, all right? She has an iPad. She knows how to FaceTime. That’s as technology savvy as you need to be.

The tools in the App are really for caregivers. It’s coordination. It’s a simple wallet. The senior doesn’t need to look at the insights you receive. They have full access to them if they want the app. They want to use your name and password, they can get it. So, they can know what you’re seeing.

I was at a conference once in California when my father called me.
He was in the hospital and said,
“Don’t worry. They’re going to do a small heart procedure and I’ll be fine.” 
“Okay, time out. What hospital are you at? Oh, you’re at Beth Israel Deaconess? Well, wait a second. Your cardiologist is at Brigham & Women’s across the street. That’s a problem!”

We designed a wallet, not to serve as the electronic medical record, but answers these simple, yet important questions. “Who’s the doctor? What’s their number? How do you reach the PCP? How do you tell people what medications they’re on?” The simple stuff.

Gary Barg: Right.

Carina Edwards: We offer medication reminders to the seniors if they use an iPhone or an Android device. They get little pop-up reminders on the medications that you set when we do the pill bottles for the week or the two weeks. So, it’s really designed as a tool for you as a caregiver to help support each other, right? Task management, “Who’s picking mom up from—” this or that. “Who’s changing out the screens for the storm windows?”, all the other kind of things that goes on around caregiving that’s not medical.

Gary Barg: This is a perfect fit for our annual Board of Directors meetings. We always say that family caregivers is the CEO of Caring for my Loved One, Inc.  and let’s say the Board of Directors—if there is such a thing—are the other family members who swoop in during the holidays and try to tell us what to do. So, it’s really nice to be armed with information that we can share with them, and tell them what we need, and how we need support. How do you see a caregiver telling their Board of Directors about the importance of Quil Health?

Carina Edwards: The first thing I would say is that it’s going to offer peace of mind. So, nobody must start every day with, “Okay. Who’s calling mom, to see if she’s up, and around?” because the App says, “Hey, mom’s up and around.” It also gives you the flexibility to know she’s okay and can reach you whenever she wants. And is a savings, since if you have home health aides coming to the house every day, it’s a very large expense.

You can think about Quil Health as a bridge. If mom’s doing okay and there are now some extra parameters where you might not have to have support once a day? Maybe every other day. Also, if necessary, she can get emergency support. We had a lot of fun with our videos on the website because we’re speaking to seniors to help them become receptive, because this is fun. This is the eager for fun generation. They are not leaving their house. They’re not wearing a pendant. They’re adventurous to the end.

Quil Health also improves relationships because it doesn’t come across as that awkward checklist phone call “Did you take your meds?” “Did you do the thing?” “Did you do the thing?” “What were the appointments?” As a caregiver, it really reduced my stress and anxiety. It also helped me build a more productive relationship and a more receptive relationship because we’re talking about more fun things. “Tell me about the puzzle that you built today.” “Tell me about where you’re going with the church.” “Tell me where you’re going with your friends.” Like, “What’s been going on in the community, the things that are in their lives that are giving them meaning.”

Gary Barg: This is stuff you don’t have to worry about now because you have Quill Health doing the worrying for you.

Carina Edwards: Stop Worrying & Start Quillin’.

Gary Barg: Exactly right.

 

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