HandsFree Health: Opening the Front Door to Health

Assistive Technology

 

Bringing new technology to older adults in the middle of a pandemic is not for timid professionals. But the team at HandsFree Health is anything but timid; they are dedicated to giving seniors and their family members a new way to successfully manage health care while at home. Dennis Boone, Chief Consumer Marketing and Sales Officer at HandsFree Health, took time to tell us more about the company’s vision and revolutionary services available now.

 

How did HandsFree Health come to be? We’d love to hear more about the origin story of the company.

“HandsFree Health was founded by four executives from Health Advocate, including Mike Cardillo and Dan Messina, who were coming off the recent sale of their groundbreaking company, which at the time had grown to over 45 million members. 

Mike had received a smart speaker as a gift and immediately recognized the potential to adapt the technology for healthcare. He then brought the idea to Dan, who loved the potential to deliver health service in the home, which he refers to as the ‘front door of health’. It was at that point that the co-founders began assembling a team to build the platform that would bring WellBe to life. 

Their healthcare backgrounds gave them a significant advantage in understanding the information people wanted from a virtual health assistant. Unlike big tech who had largely ignored the healthcare space because of the complexity and privacy issues, the HandsFree Health team tackled it head-on, developing their own proprietary platform that was completely secure, HIPAA compliant, and private. With the help of some world-class developers, they were able to bring WellBe to market in the midst of the global pandemic, providing isolated families a way to stay connected and informed about their loved one’s care.”

 

How long has HandsFree Health been offering WellBe on the market? 

“HandsFree Health has been selling WellBe for just less than a year but it has been in development for 3 plus years.”

 

With any online service or product in the senior care market, there are bound to be concerns about privacy. Can you speak to how HandsFree Health protects user privacy and meets HIPAA requirements? 

“Privacy is a huge part of what makes HandsFree Health different. It was one of the driving factors behind the development of our own proprietary system.

First and foremost, HandsFree Health never records or stores your conversations or audio (a common practice for many virtual assistants). Beyond that, there is a host of other privacy and security features that many users never notice that are working to protect them. The first is our dedication to meeting or exceeding national requirements for HIPAA compliance. In short, this means we take the same care as a doctor’s office in handling your health information. We also have a patent-pending layered security feature that utilizes colored lights, voice recognition, and AI to determine a question’s intent. This allows anyone to play music or news from WellBe, but requires verification before private information, like medications, appointments or health data can be accessed, keeping users information private and secure.”

 

Your leadership team is packed with professionals who know healthcare. What need did they see when they were developing WellBe Medical Alert PLUS? 

Because our co-founders came from healthcare giants like Aetna, Cigna, Magellan, and Health Advocate, they knew the questions customers were asking about their health. They knew of the dangers of medication non-compliance, and they knew that a growing number of customers wanted to have better control of their health and to do so from the home. They used their experience, contacts, and relationships to develop features that could bring real benefits to WellBe users. Features that could not be found elsewhere from a single source, like authoritative health answers, medical insurance coverage questions, medication reminders, and provider searches, to name a few.” 

 

What are some of your favorite features of the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system? 

There are many features on the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system designed with busy seniors in mind. Image credit: HandsFree Health

“The obvious feature that everyone is looking for is our 24/7 emergency response, but WellBe goes far beyond traditional emergency alert systems with features that enrich a user’s life. Our medication reminders, for example, alert users when it is time to take a medication or get a prescription refilled. WellBe will even offer to call the pharmacy for them. WellBe also notifies a caregiver or loved one if a medication or appointment is missed. 

In addition to medication and prescription refill reminders, WellBe provides doctor appointment reminders with leave times based on location. Answer a few medical history questions and WellBe will remind you to schedule preventive care appointments or to get a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine. 

But my favorite features are the ones our customers use every day like hands-free calling, streaming music from iHeart Radio and Spotify, audiobooks, news reports from NPR, and weather forecasts from Accuweather. Customers can even get the score to last night’s game. These are the everyday features that no other medical alert system is offering. They help customers who live alone avoid the feeling of isolation and loneliness, and keep them connected to their world.” 

 

Who is someone who can benefit from having the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS in their home? 

“HandsFree Health offers a number of different solutions so that virtually everyone can benefit from the features of WellBe. It is obvious that seniors and those in need of a medical alert device can benefit, but the stand-alone WellBe smart speaker with no monitoring fee is a great tool for young families who are managing multiple schedules, medications for the kids, flu shots, pediatrician appointments, antibiotics, the list goes on. 

We have one in our house and use it all the time to get answers to health questions that come up from raising two active boys. And because it’s HIPAA compliant and private, we don’t worry about our device ‘listening in’ to our conversations, or our boys accidentally ordering products or services from Amazon.”

 

How can family members benefit from the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS being in their loved one’s home? 

“Above all, WellBe Medical Alert PLUS provides families with peace of mind. For families with loved ones who live alone or are aging in place, this means knowing mom and dad took their medications or attended their doctor’s appointments. It means being able to stay in touch with hands-free calling and being notified when an abnormal blood pressure or glucose reading is recorded. 

WellBe allows caregivers to better manage their schedule and feel less guilty when they can’t be there in person to care for a loved one. We see this all of the time with families who live in other states, it’s the comfort of knowing WellBe can answer questions, order meals for delivery, and remind loved ones of important health activities that may not always be top of mind.” 

 

Can you highlight some of the features of the WellBe Medical Alert Smartwatch?

“The WellBe Medical Alert Smartwatch is really an amazing product. It is a 24/7 personal emergency response system (PERS), but we did not stop there. WellBe Smartwatch is packed with easy-to-use features like a pedometer to track steps, heart rate monitor, and GPS. Because it’s an emergency alert device, it has to go anywhere the users go, so it’s water-resistant and shower safe. 

WellBe Smartwatch uses 4G LTE, a big distinction for PERS devices which for years have relied on cheaper 2G and 3G. But the most exciting feature is the ability to ask WellBe a question right from your wrist. Utilizing the built-in microphone, users can ask WellBe health questions, find a local medical facility or restaurant, even get reminders, all while on the go. It’s the perfect way to take the security and peace of mind of WellBe Medical Alert PLUS with you anywhere.“

 

Do you have to be tech-savvy to enjoy the benefits of the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS? 

“No, and that’s the best part. Both the smart speaker and smartwatch were designed to be easy to use. 

We even reimagined the setup process with our patient pending Universal Registration, more commonly known as “remote registration”. This allows a loved one to setup WellBe Medical Alert PLUS from anywhere using just their smartphone or tablet. They can even connect it to WiFi remotely. That means you can buy a system for mom or dad, have it delivered directly to them and once it arrives, take over the setup process from anywhere. 

I should also mention that voice-activated devices, like WellBe, were recently described by Forbes as hyper-adaptations, for their rapid growth in the market, largely due to the fact that they are so easy to use for people of any age. All you have to do is use your voice.“

It was a pleasure speaking with Dennis as he spoke more about HandsFree Health and the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS systems. It is clear the team is focused on providing everyday value to their customers for a reasonable price.