The owners of three tech start-up companies with a desire to improve elders’ quality-of-life competed in the She Loves Tech Australian final last Friday, a global competition providing participants the chance of winning US$50,000 to help kick start the expansion of their business.
Whilst none of the three progressed to the international round, the companies still have high hopes that their unique products will be successful in revolutionising care in Australia and abroad.
Aged Care News spoke to them to find out more…
My Medic Watch
My Medic Watch hopes to bring carers an unprecedented level of peace of mind, and it does so through leveraging the latest in machine learning technology.
The app, which is compatible with Apple, Samsung and other Android smartwatches, harnesses the watch’s in-built sensors alongside the company’s new patented algorithm, detecting falls and seizures in real-time.
Alerts are automatically sent to the wearers nominated carers (up to 10 people) who can then elect to take the call.
The app also utilises the smart watch’s in-built heart rate monitor to predict oncoming seizures, giving users a warning which allows them to sit and seek assistance before blacking out or suffering a fall.
Giovanni Munoz, spokesperson for My Medic Watch, tells Aged Care News that the idea was born from the personal experience of the company’s founders, sisters Andreanne and Elizabeth Blanchard.
“They just wanted to know their mum was OK,” Munoz says.
Only in her 50s, their mother was diagnosed with a neurological condition that caused spontaneous falls.
“She was an incredibly active woman with a high-profile career… residential aged care just wasn’t an option,” Munoz says.
The girls knew they needed a solution to balance their mother’s independent nature with her ongoing care needs.
After consultation with experts, the app was developed, and now the Blanchard sisters have hopes it will aid countless families across the planet.
“With the ageing population growing exponentially around the world each year, this app could help elderly people keep their independence for longer,” they write in their mission statement.
“You’re not marked… sometimes you see the elderly carrying a big button on their chest, whereas this is just a watch,” Munoz says.
The company is now developing a geo-fencing function to help care for those with Alzheimer’s.
Carers can define a locational boundary, such as their loved one’s home; the smartwatch’s in-built GPS will keep track of the wearer’s location.
“If the person goes outside the boundary you will get an alert,” Munoz says.
Whilst the company is up and running, it is also looking at adding functionality which will keep the apps at the cutting-edge including features that can predict falls and seizures.
At that point the company says that it will seek approval as an official medical device from Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
“Our TGA is recognised all over the world so once it has been approved, it will open a lot of doors around the world,” Munoz says.
My Life Capsule
My Life Capsule founder Pam Moorhouse tells Aged Care News that the situation surrounding her father in law’s passing was the inspiration for her new technology back in 2019.
Having just a week to organise his funeral and notify his friends, the stress was compounded by the lack of access to, and organisation of, his critical information and other supporting documentation.
“It was this really devastating time in our life that was made so much worse because Kev didn’t have the chance to organise and share his critical information with us,” Moorhouse says.
“It was the lightbulb moment where I realised: ‘wow, we do this really badly don’t we?’”
Thus the idea for My Life Capsule was born, an app which Moorhouse says is a solution to the overwhelming logistical and emotional stress that comes with big life events.
The digital interface allows the secure storage of passwords, documents, and medical information, as well as precious photo and video memories.
“We’re really encouraging elders to come together, to use this digital life capsule to organise, protect and share their most important information and memories,” Moorhouse says.
Moorhouse notes that the app is protected by bank level digital security and offers multi-factor authentication to keep data secure.
“Anything stored on the app is completely private to the user and those they share it with.”
My Life Capsule also offers a free product, called an ‘emergency vault’, which stores up to five critical passwords and 12 documents which can be downloaded and shared as needed.
“We genuinely want to help people, so hopefully elders can gain something from this free service we offer,” Moorhouse says.
“It gives users a little taste of what My Life Capsule can do.”
Laura Simmons, a paediatric occupational therapist, knew she had to develop a solution to the issue of continuity of care in allied health.
Her patients generally had appointments spaced weeks and weeks apart, and her toolkit for instructing home exercises was limited.
“I’d draw stick figure drawings and send home checklists on paper and they’d be lost or forgotten about,” she tells Aged Care News.
Furthermore, she lamented the pressure put on her patient’s primary carer to maintain her prescribed regimen.
“A lot of the time that carer isn’t just caring for that one person… so to then expect them to go ‘OK, I need to remember exactly how [the practitioner] positioned little Johnny or I need to remember exactly what she said in that session… it’s just not going to happen.”
To remedy this, Simmons searched online for a technological solution, but was surprised to find none existed.
“How is it that in other industries, they have all these tools, but in healthcare we’re just stuck with a good old piece of paper?
“That’s not fair,” she says.
Simmons, with the help of women’s start-up program She Starts, developed the concept for what is now Theratrak, a digital platform enabling therapists to provide patients with a multi-media home programme comprising photo, video and text instruction.
Whilst Simmons launched the company to enhance her occupational therapy practice, the app can be utilised by a variety of other allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and speech pathologists.
Whilst the use case of the technology was strong, Simmons laughingly admits that part of her business philosophy was a hard sell: she doesn’t want her patients to be ‘return customers’!
“Our goal is not for therapy to be forever, it’s to build your skills so you can live independently in the community,” she says.
It was for this reason that she developed the service as a B2B enterprise, selling to health professionals as opposed to patients.
Interested therapists can take advantage of a free 30 day trial here, whilst patients who think this technology could benefit them or a loved one, are encouraged to submit their interest via this link.