Movers & Shakers Interview with Gerald "Jerry" Wilmink, Chief Business Officer - CarePredictPublished Date: 2/9/2021
Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink, Ph.D. is an American health entrepreneur, biomedical engineer, and inventor. Before joining CarePredict as the Chief Business Officer, he founded WiseWear in 2013. WiseWear, like CarePredict, was a senior health technology company that developed B2C IoT products to keep seniors healthy, safe, and secure. Jerry's former experience also includes founding and growing the first Terahertz biosensing laboratory in the Department of Defense (DoD), operating as a startup director and serving as a program manager for United States’ $3 Billion SBIR/STTR product commercialization program.
Jerry has penned several patents, published over 50 technical manuscripts, book chapters, and has delivered over 125 keynote or plenary presentations at leading business and technical conferences including CES, RISE, TEDMED, SXSW, and SPIE. He is also an advisor for United States’ National Academy of Sciences NRC, SMART, and NDSEG.
Jerry co-chairs Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) new initiative on Artificial Intelligence which addresses AI in consumer health, fitness and wellness technology. Jerry was recognized as the 2019 Argentum Senior Living Leader Under 40.
Jerry earned his BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, a research associateship with the National Academy of Science, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Vishal Sapru (VS), Co-Founder, Cognitio Research Inc. had an opportunity to conduct a Movers & Shakers interview with Gerald "Jerry" Wilmink (Jerry), Chief Business Officer, CarePredict
VS: Can you provide our readers a brief overview of the company including the vision behind its formation and its current role in the market?
Jerry: CarePredict is an AI-powered digital health platform for senior care. Our mission is to let caregivers - family or professional, know before something happens. To provide the best care possible to seniors, we need to see the earliest signs of the onset of a health condition. In seniors, these early signs occur as subtle changes in the activity and behavior patterns. Identifying these changes requires that the daily activities of the senior be monitored. Continuously. It is simply impossible to rely on human observation alone to catch these changes on time. Compounding this challenge is the fact that an estimated 73 million people will be over the age of 65 years by 2030. And the number of caregivers continues to diminish. This is where technology can make a difference.
CarePredict uses a sophisticated smart wearable – Tempo™, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced kinematics algorithms to learn each person's usual activity patterns. When there is a deviation from the baseline, the system alerts caregivers on a wide range of potential concerns, such as UTI, depression, malnutrition and an increased risk for falls.
By acting as a force multiplier, CarePredict augments the caregiver and provides timely alerts on when they need to intervene. CarePredict is solving the problem of over-reliance on in-person observation to catch declines in the health of seniors aging in a group living or at home. By enabling timely care, it is also shifting the senior care paradigm from "detect and treat" to "predict and prevent."
When seniors are socially isolated, CarePredict has proven to be a vital link that provides families with peace of mind through continuous visibility into their senior loved one's well-being. It also allows seniors to get in touch with their family members with the simple press of a button.
VS: Please, describe your product/solution for our readers? How does it work and how different is it from what is already available in the market?
Jerry: The CarePredict system consists of a wrist-worn wearable device, context beacons for precise room location, and a cloud-based AI-powered platform. CarePredict's award-winning smart wearable, Tempo Series 3, has been designed exclusively for the seniors. The Tempo uses advanced gesture recognition algorithms, an array of smart sensors, and machine learning to learn the daily activity and behavior patterns of a senior such as eating, sleeping, walking, cooking, and bathroom activities. When there is a subtle deviation from the individual's baseline, the system alerts family members or caregivers on a wide range of potential health conditions. This ability to detect the early signs of health concerns allows for preventive care and ensures the seniors' well-being. Using the CarePredict TouchPoint user-friendly app, families can receive alerts, see how their loved ones are doing today versus the past, and coordinate care with other family members through the built-in Care Circle communication feature.
The data from conventional fitness trackers and smartwatches are not sufficient to assess a senior's ongoing wellness. Tempo Wearable and the AI platforms behind it have been developed exclusively to care for seniors with their unique needs in mind. For instance, we know that falls can occur during the night when conventional wearables are being recharged. We designed the Tempo with a swappable battery to ensure it never needs to be taken off for charging. Some wearables come with a button to alert for help, but Tempo goes beyond that to provide two-way communication that allows seniors to speak directly with family members for immediate reassurance and peace of mind. Goal setting in fitness trackers often entails counting of steps but to truly understand the abilities and frailties of a senior, Tempo tracks all their activity and distills that into an easy to understand and industry-first Activity Score.
VS: What are some of the likely challenges CarePredict is expecting to face in the market and what strategy do you have in place to overcome it?
Jerry: The biggest challenge is in shifting the senior care paradigm from a reactive to a preventive one. The industry is flooded with devices and technology that detect, diagnose and treat (like the devices that let you know after a senior has fallen.) If we seek to ensure the health of a senior and allow them to age safely and independently longer, we need technology that can let you know before something happens. This requires educating the industry, seniors and families on the benefits and value of preventive care.
On the other hand, many technologies are touting AI and machine learning but cannot show proven results. It is great to have technological innovations, but it remains theoretical if it doesn't solve real-life problems. CarePredict's research study on the results of using AI in senior living facilities was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. The study showed that the use of AI technology resulted in better health outcomes – 40 percent reduced hospitalizations, and 69 percent reduced falls. The study also outlined that equipping care staff at facilities with advanced technology can improve response times to alerts and subsequently improve resident satisfaction.
A silver lining of the recent pandemic is that it has propelled the adoption rate of technology in senior care. The value of remote monitoring and telehealth technologies are now widely recognized and willingly used. Data from EPIC health Research network shows a 300-fold increase in telehealth and remote monitoring between 2019 and 2020. Technology has also been a vital communication link between seniors and families during these times of social isolation.
With most seniors wanting to age independently, they are beginning to seek the support of digital health tools in this endeavor. The recent Parks & Associates survey shows that over a third of those 65years and older are considering using digital health tools that monitor their safety and calls for help when they are no longer able to live safely and independently on their own.
VS: What is the unique value proposition of your solution and its key competitive differentiators?
Jerry: As the first-to-market with a solution that autonomously observes changes in the daily activity and behavior patterns of a senior, CarePredict's unique value proposition is that it lets caregivers know before something happens. Providing early insights into the onset of a condition allows caregivers to intervene before the condition escalates. For instance, CarePredict's activity-based insights on frequency and duration of bathroom visits are used to identify and flag seniors that show the earliest sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). (The CDC lists the new or marked increase in the frequency of bathroom visits as one of the criteria to define a UTI event.) Seniors who have shown a deviation from their normal bathroom duration and frequency pattern can be referred to a provider for diagnosis and treatment, thus preventing a visit to the ER, extended hospital stay and possibly sepsis.
This continuous visibility provides peace of mind to the family while allowing seniors to be independent longer and age safely in the comfort of their own home, staying close to the things they know and love. Healthy longevity is less taxing on the healthcare system in general and the care circle in particular.
VS: What is your strategy in regards to offering the best value to customers for the price, compared to similar offerings from competitors? if any?
Jerry: The true value lies in the peace of mind our solution brings to caregivers and the ability for seniors to continue to age independently in the comfort of their own home. For about $3/day, families now have continuous visibility into their senior loved ones' evolving health. Older adults know that they can reach and talk to their families at the touch of a button and directly through their wrist-worn wearable. CarePredict's TouchPoint app continues to be a vital link that lets seniors remain connected with the families when they are isolated for their protection. Last but not least, the value of knowing before something happens and being able to act on it is invaluable when it comes to providing timely care.
VS: Continued innovation is the key to success for any company. How is the process of innovation managed at CarePredict?
Jerry: We believe in technology that solves real-life problems every day. CarePredict has 14 issued patents, and innovation at CarePredict is primarily driven by our user's and customers' needs. Here are a few examples of our innovations –
Our wearable, Tempo, was designed with the specific needs of seniors in mind. Every feature from the swappable, rechargeable batteries to the Tempo sounds are engineered for the senior. At the same time, we also listen to what caregivers need – from the user-friendly UI of the TouchPoint app to the granularity of the reports and data it displays. The app has been designed to provide a clear, one-glance view of everything a caregiver needs to know that their loved one is okay.
When we saw the surge of COVID-19 fatalities in senior living facilities, in an intense 2-week sprint, we developed a digital contact tracing solution to help senior living facilities quickly and automatically identify within seconds all the individuals who came in contact with an infected person.
VS: What do you want the company to accomplish in the next 5 years and how will you define success for CarePredict?
Jerry: Our mission is to help seniors aging anywhere – at home or at a senior living facility. With the increasingly widening gap in the seniors to caregiver ratio, technology will no longer be a nice-to-have but will be a must-have to ensure quality, timely care. We define success, not in terms of selling a product or solution, but in terms of the difference our solution makes in seniors and their families' lives. To us, success is in knowing we could support our older adults in aging safely at home. Success is when we prevent falls and avoid the need for hospitalizations. It is the ability to remove unpredictability from caregiving and equipping caregivers with insights that let them act before an issue escalates.
VS: Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your product in the marketplace and are there any client testimonials that can be shared with us? Also, do you foresee the acceptance of your product to have influence (trendsetter) on the overall direction of the market?
Jerry: Thousands of seniors living at home and in senior living facilities in the U.S. and Japan are using our solution today. We have conducted in-depth research that was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research that outlines the health outcomes from our solution – (2X reduced hospitalizations, 69 percent reduced fall rates, 37 percent improved staff response time.) We are also noticing that senior living facilities are more open to adopting technology that enables preventive care. The silver lining of the pandemic has been that it has propelled the industry by five to ten years of changes within the span of just several months*. During this time, families, caregivers and seniors alike have realized the value of a remote monitoring technology in staying connected and being able to coordinate care from afar.
Testimonial from Home Care Agency owner: "CarePredict enables Right at Home Tri-County Metro to increase the value we provide to our home care clients by helping our caregivers stay ahead of possible health issues. The AI technology packed into their sophisticated platform also allows us to reach new clients who might not be quite ready for traditional home care services." Jeff Welsh - Owner and President, Right at Home, Tri-County Metro
Testimonial from family caregivers: "CarePredict has been key to reducing stress and an important tool for me as a caregiver in these unprecedented times of social isolation. I had to move my dad to a different facility farther away, and this app has provided me the peace of mind in knowing that dad is okay. It gives my dad comfort to know that I am aware of how he is doing and that he can easily reach me with the touch of a button anytime." - George Krieger - Photographer, Cinematographer, Point Cloud Mapping specialist, and caregiver to dad
VS: Are there any unique features of your product that address unmet customer needs and competitors are unable to replicate and replace?
Jerry: Yes. Most wearables in the market today detect just steps, sleep, or some physiological measurements. CarePredict Tempo is the only wearable designed for seniors that observes changes in their daily activities such as eating, sleeping, walking, cooking, and bathroom activities. Changes in these activities foreshadow health conditions such as UTI, depression, malnutrition, and even falls in seniors. These daily activities were previously measured through in-person observation. Technologies like ambient remote monitoring that use motion sensors and switches on everyday objects like refrigerator doors to track general activity patterns do not work when more than one person lives in the home, such as a couple. It also cannot ascertain whether mom or dad have eaten cause the system sensed that the refrigerator door was opened. Cameras have also been used to learn the daily activity patterns, but these are invasive, require multiple devices, and set up to capture data.
VS: There are vendors in the market with complementing or similar products. How do you compare yourself with such competitors in regards to offering Best-in-Class solution?
Jerry: CarePredict Tempo™ is a wearable that has been designed exclusively for seniors. Unlike other wearables that detect and treat by assessing physiological measurements and vitals, the Tempo predicts and prevents possible health declines in seniors by continuously observing the changes in the daily activity and behavior patterns. The Tempo has over 11 sensors, including a highly advanced motion sensor for gesture recognition and a combined heart rate and pulse oximetry sensor using best in class technology. There are many stigmas associated with traditional medical alert devices, so we ensured the Tempo is discreet and stylish in its aesthetics. Everything about the Tempo translates to ease of use for our elder loved ones, from the soft button that is easy to press to a large, clear led ring with diffused light that older adults can see very quickly. The Tempo is enabled with two-way voice functionality so the senior can press the button to talk to their family or caregiver directly through their wrist wearable. Tempo batteries last for up to two days, and the Tempo doesn't need to be removed for charging — all making it the perfect wrist-worn wearable for older adults.
Since we are the only on-body wearable used to observe changes in daily activities, we can collect the best data for gestures such as eating, cooking and other activities. Tempo passively collects these activity data with no self-reporting or in-person observation. It is not invasive like cameras and isn't equipment and set-up heavy like ambient sensors.
VS: What are your marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances and/or partnerships? How do you plan to build and strengthen the brand equity of your offering?
Jerry: We are focused on enabling preventive care and ensuring the overall well-being of seniors aging anywhere – at senior living facilities or at home. As with all telehealth and remote monitoring solutions, we are focused on data integration. In the senior housing space, we are already integrated with the leading EHR systems and will continue to focus on more integrations to provide a seamless data flow.
VS: What kind of customer feedback mechanism do you have in place to ensure that the product development and innovation matches market and customer needs?
Jerry: At CarePredict, we are focused on solving real-life issues. Before designing the product, we undertook qualitative research and focus-groups with seniors 65 years+ to understand and design for their specific needs. We continue to innovate based on our users' (senior care facilities, home care agency owners and direct consumers) feedback through proactive outreach, periodic surveys and follow-ups on an ongoing basis.
VS: As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for your product?
Jerry: 1.4 billion people worldwide will be 60+ years old by 2030. As the number of elderly increases and the number of caregivers decline, a force multiplier is needed to deliver just in time care to intervene at the earliest signs of declines to save money and extend life. CarePredict Tempo is catering to the highly underserved senior market, solving the problem of over-reliance on in-person observation to catch declines in the health of thousands of seniors aging at home.