Utility Data May Create Innovative Safety Net for Seniors

Jan 30, 2014, 4:30 PM, Posted by

Elderly adults talking.

In the wake of Google’s acquisition of Nest, the much buzzed about maker of sensor driven thermostats, we’ve made our own investment in a Silicon Valley organization that seeks to make smart use of household utility data. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation Innovation Center is developing a home-based solution for proactively detecting changes in a senior’s social and physical health status. LinkAges Connect will use in-home data signals, such as utility use patterns, to monitor older adults’ health and support independent living at home.  Significant changes in use patterns will automatically trigger an alert to caregivers, thus providing a community safety net for seniors and peace of mind for their loved ones. As we look for sustainable solutions in elderly care, this nonintrusive home-based system could improve health outcomes for seniors by reducing accidents and hospitalizations.

RWJF has provided the Innovation Center with a three-year grant to develop and evaluate linkAges Connect, with the goal of learning more about how real time/real world data can help seniors age independently and potentially help other populations maintain independence and improve their health. This grant is part of RWJF’s broader effort to explore the power and value of data generated in real world and in real time to improve health. Could patterns in our utility usage provide a key to help reduce hospitalizations and keep us healthy? See what else we can learn from our thermostats by following the project at @pamfinnovation.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.