Health Innovation and Aging In Place Technology

Interview: Kian Saneii, CEO, Independa w_ Jody Holtzman SVP, AARP
Digital Health Summit CES 2013


Jody Holtzman:  This is Jody Holtzman with AARP, and I am interviewing an incredibly bright star in the entrepreneurship space in health innovation and aging in place technology. So Kian, you’ve had some recent experience that the world needs to know about. So what’s bright in Independa’s future right now?

Kian Saneii: Well, Jody, thanks, that's very kind of you. It’s great to be here with you. Well, in terms of recent experience or news events, we actually announced our series A last week, so we're thrilled about that. We have City Hill Ventures as our lead VC as well as LG Electronics, so we’re thrilled. Here we're announcing the generally available product with LG on the TV side as well as Samsung tablets.

And what Independa does, as you know, but for the audience -- is we have technologies that help the elderly age in place where they want to be, whether it’s their home or in a senior living facility, longer, safer, more comfortably. And we have, on the one hand, partners, enterprises like insurance companies,
senior living facilities, homecare companies, as well as on the other hand, the circle of care around this individual leveraging our technologies to benefit their loved ones as well as their members.

Jody Holtzman: That's great. So, as you know, the promise yet to be fulfilled with the introduction of greater uses of technology, aging in place, remote monitoring, all these different things, the promise that still needs to be proven is a lowering of cost, taking cost out of the system, bending the cost curve as it’s referred to, as well as at the same time, simultaneously, improving the quality of healthcare and improving health outcomes. So when you look at that entire bit there, let's start with cost. How do you take cost out of the system?

Kian Saneii: Well, the key question there, Jody, is which system? So, in my opinion, we have a system that on the health or sickness side has its own issues and challenges we all know. We’re wasting a trillion dollars, but that waste is actually other people’s profitability. So if we’re talking about that cost, that's very difficult to do. I think everybody knows where the costs are. We just have to pay people differently, and someone has to step up to accept that whether it’s political or practical, and that’ll happen very naturally if you pay hospitals differently, doctors differently, so people are doing really well in a system that is paying them in a certain way.

But if you’re talking about a different system, which is the system that we all as consumers, and not as patients but as persons, live through every day, which is families banding together. You see all the commercials on reverse mortgages, equity lines, family savings going to helping their loved ones stay independent longer, safer, more comfortably. That's the system where there are huge amounts of opportunity, and people are already spending that money, and they completely dwarf any kind of insurance payment in that market because that's what we call private pay. And that part of the healthcare system that's private pay is in fact where there’s a lot of pain and there's a lot of opportunity for cost reduction and anguish reduction, namely, if you keep somebody where they are one extra month versus the next stage of care, you actually could pay for lifetime use of certain products like ours.

And in our mind, by the way, just to make this point, the television is a key component of that. What is the product that everyone uses when they’re elderly and particularly alone? Probably watching TV many hours a day. What is the number one issue with the elderly? Social isolation and loneliness and depression. It’s not falls. It’s not, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Where are the dollars going? They’re going as a result of the next two or three things that happen after you’re depressed and lonely.

So why not let that device that's been a transmission device, a broadcast device that someone’s sitting already in front -- there's no training required -- revolutionize that and turn it into a medium, a portal, that allows you to communicate and collaborate and be socially engaged? You could be watching Matlock and have your granddaughter have a video chat request, or you could be watching Price is Right and you get a medication reminder and use your standard remote control to dispense that. So we think that's where the cost curve is, in our world anyway -- is to reduce cost where it’s out of people’s pocket.

Jody Holtzman: And what’s the experience so far?

Kian Saneii: Well, the experience is phenomenal in the sense that this lines up very well with industries that are looking to do the same; in other words, insurance companies. If you do not go into an episodic transaction with the healthcare system, they save money, you’re happy, and your family’s happy. So these types of technologies and tools like we’re announcing are critical to get there from a cost perspective even within the system. And you can only imagine, if you sit and watch TV all day and you’re alone for two weeks at a time, if that TV suddenly becomes the window to the world for you, and from your couch you get to open up different worlds, that to me is the experience maybe that you’re talking about.

Jody Holtzman: So if we're having this conversation a year from now and five years from now, what’s different?

Kian Saneii: Great question. I would hope that at some point we could actually align payment systems with interests in healthcare in a completely sensible way, which is value, as everybody talks about, not volume for our providers, and for hospitals not to be essentially hotels with empty beds. And you overlay on top of that ACO structures and transition care management penalties and so forth, but at the end of the day the underlying structure should be that if people are away from the healthcare system, then everyone is happiest. And we all know that. But it’s not fair for doctors not to get paid if people are away.

And so that to me is five years down the road, and maybe next year would be the actual adoption of a tool called the television inside independent living facilities and assisted living facilities that is much more than an appliance, that becomes a window from a technology connectivity, m-health, and everything combined, that portal to that elderly person as they age in a wonderful way.

Jody Holtzman: Thanks so much. What a great future. Let's hope it comes to pass.

Kian Saneii: Thanks so much, Jody. Great to be here.


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