Comcast's Quil Health launches in-home sensor technology for aging seniors

Digital health company Quil Health is expanding its reach into home health care with a new sensor-based technology platform aimed at aging seniors and their caregivers.

Quil—the healthcare joint venture of telecom giant Comcast NBCUniversal and Independence Health Group—is offering new technology that combines ambient sensors and voice-activated technology in the home to help caregivers monitor patients' movements, the company announced during the HLTH 2020 virtual conference Monday.

The company launched in 2018 to leverage Comcast's technology capabilities to provide healthcare guidance through consumer's laptops, phones and even their TVs. In 2019, Quil Health launched its first product, Quil Engage, a consumer engagement platform that leverages smart devices and motion sensors in the home to help patients safely recovery after surgery.

Quil's newest platform, called Quil Assure, is the first integrated sensor-based technology platform that connects patients to their clinical team and caregivers from their homes, according to the company. It's part of Quil's focus on supporting the aging at home experience for millions of seniors.

The solution combines a smart in-home sensor network that monitors patients' movement along with integrated emergency assistance and caregiver coordination tools and resources. The aim is to connect caregivers to aging family and friends who want to live independently at home but need support.

Over time, Quil Assure will integrate with the company’s existing consumer engagement platform to provide an integrated digital platform equipped with ambient sensors, a health monitoring hub that combines activity and health tracking, voice activated technology and integrated emergency assistance.

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The solution uses ambient sensors that are not cameras and do not record but rather collect information around the user's movements and environment, Quil Health CEO Carina Edwards told Fierce Healthcare.

The ambient sensors placed in the home monitor activity and send real-time alerts to caregivers if there is a deviation from normal patterns. Voice-enabled capabilities will allow caregivers to reach out through an in-home speaker to check in on their loved ones.

"The sensors can detect the temperature of the house and CO2 levels and can detect falls. It uses the information to form a baseline pattern for the household," she said. "So if my dad is recovering from hip replacement surgery and he is telling me he is doing great, but I notice by using this digital platform that he has actually not left the bedroom in 24 hours, that tells me that I need to check in on him."

The U.S. is facing a so-called "silver tsunami" with 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day. With more than 55 million seniors in the U.S., the market for at-home support and care for seniors is growing rapidly, according to the company.

At the same time, more than 50 million Americans provide unpaid care, and 9 in 10 seniors would prefer to stay in their current homes over the next 10 years.

"This technology is really empowering the 50 million unpaid caregivers not just with education and next-best actions but also with the piece of mind and assurance that their loved one is safe and living healthy at home," Edwards said.

She added, "Today, few solutions exist to monitor the health of our loved ones at home. Consumer health platforms fall short of delivering on the promise of engagement; wearable monitoring technologies are limiting; and caregivers are often left in the dark."

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Many digital health solutions feature bulky devices that need to be charged or require broadband internet, she said.

"We want technology to integrate into the fabric of a person’s household and meets them where they are," Edwards said.

Leveraging the expertise of its parent companies, Quil Health has both the healthcare expertise and technology capabilities to provide healthcare guidance through consumers' laptops, phones and TVs, according to the company.

The company's engagement app, which is prescribed to patients by their doctors or offered through their insurance companies, is producing positive results, Edwards said. The platform provides patients with educational content including documents, surveys and videos, to ensure they understand the demands of any necessary pre- and post-op care. The app offers guidelines customized in episodes of care ranging from pregnancy to heart surgery.

To date, 100% of patients who have used the Engage platform report they feel better prepared for their health event, Edwards said.

Healthcare providers and health plans have seen a demonstrated business value by using the engagement platform with a 14% reduction in length of stay and a 22% increase in patients who are discharged to the home. Among patients using the platform, there has been a 26% reduction in readmission rates, Edwards said.

Quil plans to pilot the new in-home sensor technology with Comcast employees in December, and the solution will roll out to consumers by the third quarter of 2021.