Medical Guardian may offer a partial antidote to the nation’s caregiver crisis: a new smartwatch that combines medical alerts, tracking services and immediate access to social contacts.
The Philadelphia-based provider of personal emergency response systems rolled out its MGMove smartwatch earlier this month. Medical Guardian founder and CEO Geoff Gross told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse the watch will help older adults navigate barriers to living alone such as memory loss, mobility and loneliness. Gross said the device could also serve as a stopgap to home care firms and families, struggling with the caregiver shortage.
“They can’t be there all of the time and the technology really needs to step in more generally speaking to support personal and professional caregiving, which is in crisis,” Gross said.
MGMove includes medical alert features, activity tracking, GPS tracking, and a social circle that allows the wearer to contact caregivers, family and friends with the touch of a button.
There has been explosive growth in wearable medical devices as populations around the world age and many seniors prefer to stay in their homes. The global market for medical devices is expected to more than double to approximately $40 billion by 2026.
Gross estimates that currently only about 6% to 7% of seniors over age 70 who live alone have a wearable device that sends an alert in the event of an emergency. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how technology can keep seniors both safe and engaged.
“We’ve been going through this transition of reactive to proactive services,” Gross explained. “This category has been around for 45 years, but it’s changing quickly.”
Large home health providers, including LHC Group, use other Medical Guardian products, so Gross expects the company could be among the first to begin deploying the smartwatch to patients. The watch is available to consumers and retails for $199, with a monthly service charge of approximately $40.