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Caregivers Call for Technology Focus

As Connecticut ages, more and more people find themselves in a caregiving role. And so entrepreneurs are turning their attention to problems encountered by this growing sector of the population. If you have a loved one or a patient who has limited mobility, and who’s dependent on you every day, that can present a logistical challenge.

“We created Loon Medical to address some real specific needs in the caregiving industry,” said Mike Curtis. He's one of the founders of the Tolland-based technology company, which just began marketing a new range of monitoring aids; bed and chair sensors that can communicate with a smartphone to alert a caregiver if their loved one has moved.

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Credit Loon Medical

The patient themselves can also summon help with a call button.

“You could be out to dinner in the next state, and you would know that your loved one pressed this thing and is looking for some kind of assistance,” said Curtis.  

According to Loon, the advantage over well established systems like Life Alert is that the communication between patient and caregiver is direct - no need for a costly monitoring service with a monthly fee.

“When we go make presentations of the capabilities of this system to for example an agency, they look at this device, and they say: we get it,” he said.

And the demographics favor companies who focus on innovation in this space. More than 20 percent of households in the U.S. give care to a family member who’s over 18 and either sick, disabled or elderly, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. That adds up to 34 million unpaid caregivers, not to mention the huge health care industry that’s grown up around home care.

Loon Medical was just granted one of three patents they’ve applied for on their system.

“It is a daunting task,” said co-founder and serial entrepreneur Joel Douglas, who is no stranger to the U.S. Patent office. He has some 90 patents to his name.

Douglas said the occupancy and movement sensors they’ve so far incorporated are just a first step to a system that will eventually provide a lot more information.

“Right now, we’re in the process of adding capturing blood glucose data, pulse oxymetry, temperature, and monitoring someone with congestive heart failure. So what we’re going to do is create a database that has all the information that a caregiver would need to look at to see how their patient is doing,” Douglas said.

A national report this month noted that to date technology has played only a minor role in aiding caregivers. It called for a greater focus on developing innovations to help caregivers fit together all of their responsibilities.

Copyright 2016 Connecticut Public