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Investment shows ‘shared interest’ in supporting seniors stay at home

A new $5 million partnership between an aged care provider and technology start-up has blossomed thanks to their shared interest in helping to support seniors live the life they want to live, in their own homes, for longer.

Aged care provider ECH has invested $5 million in Billy (Source: Shutterstock)
Aged care provider ECH has invested $5 million in Billy (Source: Shutterstock)

The developing technology - known as Billy - peaked the interest of Adelaide aged care provider ECH for its clever use of a series of passive, smart sensors, which are placed in the home to “form a picture” of the resident’s daily routine - meaning that changes in daily routine can be detected early, helping to prevent medical emergencies before they happen.

Billy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rob Deeming says technology like Billy is desperately needed within the aged care space.

“Technology plays a critical role in every industry, and aged care is woefully behind in the adoption and deployment of technology to improve outcomes for seniors, and to empower carers to get on with what they do best - caring for people,” he explains.

“And, put simply, we are using the technology to support seniors living the life they want to live, on their terms.

“90 percent of Australians want to live out their life in their own home, yet 80 percent of us die in a hospital or nursing home… we are using technology to close this gap and make it easier for people to live independently, for longer.”

The team has been working “in earnest” on Billy for the last three years, and has, over the last 12 months, successfully piloted the technology with a number of senior care providers and health insurers, both in Australia and in the US.

Mr Deeming acknowledges that the partnership forged with ECH will help it grow even further.

“We are thrilled to be working in close partnership with ECH,” he says.

“We have grand plans for how we need to reshape in home care for seniors to meet changing demographics and expectations.

“In ECH, we have found an organisation that is completely aligned with the goal, and a team that shares our impatience for getting it done.”

ECH CEO David Panter says the provider recognised the technology’s “significant benefits for users, their families and care providers” following involvement in a pilot project.

“Billy provides families with visibility, and consequently peace of mind, that daily routines are being undertaken via an easy-to-use app. While for care providers, such as ECH, it supplies more detailed data that can inform care planning or services provision,” Dr Panter explains.

“Billy is different from other home monitoring systems on the market because it focuses on prevention rather than emergency response. Its use of artificial intelligence allows us to identify changes in behaviour and enables us to intervene when needed.

Dr Panter says that as well as investing venture capital to support the continued development of the technology for a global market and working to incorporate Billy into the ECH care management service, Essential CareTM to supports people to continue to live independently at home as they age, he has also taken on a seat on Billy’s Board.

“ECH made a strategic decision to divest from the residential care market in 2014 to focus on finding new ways to help people remain living independently at home as they age and Billy is one of those new ways,” he says.

“New technologies will have a significant impact on the aged care industry by improving service delivery, monitoring people’s health more closely and helping to combat social isolation.

“Technology will undoubtedly play an important role in supporting Australians as they age – particularly those people who wish to remaining living independently at home.

“While it will never replace the personalised approach to care provision, innovative technologies will be tools to help support services offered by aged care providers.

“The best outcomes for clients will be achieved through tailored and personalised care plans combined with cutting-edge technology.”

Billy is set to have its consumer launch this year, with more work being done to add more features and functionality to the kit, with most sales expected to come via health providers and insurers. 

In addition, the Billy kit may be available free of charge through the Government's Home Care Package Program, which provides older people with access to a range of support services that help them with their day-to-day activities. For some it may also be subsidised by health insurers or care providers.

More information on Billy is available online. http://www.billycare.com/

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