Tech Spotlight: Finding the RMR in PERS

Feb. 6, 2014
Expanding technology options create more opportunities for dealers

As competition increases for traditional security customers and interactive services, PERS can be a way to expand your market and add RMR in the fastest growing segment of the population.

The PERS industry in North America is projected to reach $1.86 billion in 2017, according to research from Frost & Sullivan. Seniors can “age in place” with the help of PERS, while allowing them to remain independent in the comfort of their own home.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, one-third of all people older than the age of 65 will fall each year. Research shows getting help within the first four hours of a fall can dramatically reduce the severity and effects, enabling seniors who have a PERS to stay in their home. Furthermore, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, after a fall or emergency, 90 percent of people who get help within one hour will continue independent living, but after 12 hours without help, only 10 percent will continue to live at home.

The cost of PERS for seniors is very minor compared to thousands of dollars a month for an assisted living or nursing home facility. The typical PERS customer also keeps the system for 30-32 months and when they no longer have a need for it, the equipment is returned to the dealer and can be re-issued to a new customer. Offering PERS is a great way to help you build your RMR without adding significant Recurring Monthly Expense (RME).

The Technology

PERS devices have existed for many years, but there was not much advancement in the technology or systems over the years. Previously only compatible with POTS lines, the devices can now communicate via POTS, VoIP or Cellular, depending on the customer’s needs.

Two-way voice communication is very important when you are monitoring PERS. Most traditional systems require the user to communicate through a base station centrally located in the home, limiting the effective communication range if the user is in a remote part of the house or outside in the yard. There are also systems that use two-way pendants that allow users to communicate clearly through the pendant from anywhere in or around the home — enabling a clear conversation with the central station to communicate their situation and where they are. These pendants also communicate directly with the base stations every couple of hours to confirm the battery status and that the pendant is functioning. Users are also able to verify the system is working properly by testing the pendant with the central station.

In addition to pendants that can be worn by the customer, many systems also have emergency buttons that can be mounted throughout the house (bathroom, bottom of the stairs, garage or workshop), that give users the ability to push the button and summon help even if they are not wearing the pendant. Some of these emergency buttons will send the signal to the central station and initiate the communication through the base station, and there are also some emergency wall communicators that enable the user to communicate with the central station directly through the device.

Emerging PERS Technologies

In addition to traditional PERS, some vendors are expanding, giving dealers newer monitoring options to offer to customers.

Mobile PERS (mPERS) is a growing market for those that are more active and concerned about their safety when they are away from home. An mPERS device enables the user to call for help and communicate via two-way voice with the central station through the cellular network and also send GPS coordinates to help locate them.

Tele-health is another area where the technology is rapidly changing. These systems provide dealers the opportunity to monitor for not just emergency situations, but also vital signs and health conditions. With all the changes that are happening in healthcare and costs increasing, there is a growing need to be able to remotely monitor activity and health conditions that may alert a healthcare provider to a potential problem.

As technology continues to change, it is important to understand the market that is being served and provide products and services that are user-friendly and don’t intimidate seniors, so that they will actually use them. When it comes to selling the technology to seniors, the integrator must understand the customers and their needs. Successful integrators are the ones who offer reliable, user-friendly products. It is a fine balance between technology and simplicity, especially with seniors. The same applies to bundling services and products, which can be an effective strategy as long as the options are not too complicated.

Putting the Advances to Good Use

Security dealers have developed a reputation for providing life safety and have a strong trust factor. These are critical factors that can be leveraged when building a PERS or Medical Alert Business. Seniors are very cautious about being targeted and falling victim to scams, so build on your reputation by marketing in your service area, to your existing customer base and networking with organizations that work with seniors to let them know that you are in the business.

When people are looking for a medical alert system, they do not usually look for a security company, so make sure that you are marketing your company as a medical alert provider.

Provide your customers with peace of mind. The PERS device should create unique reliability and extensive coverage — especially when more than two-thirds of injuries requiring an emergency room visit occur in tubs or showers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The devices should have reliable battery life and alternate options such as Emergency Wall Communicators for when pendants may not be available.

When looking for a manufacturer to partner with, look for a company that can provide a quality product, understands your business and can provide customized marketing and sales support. It is also important to find out if you will be competing with the manufacturer and if so, understand their business model and go-to-market strategy.

Kevin O’Connor is President of LogicMark LLC, a manufacturer of two-way voice medical alert pendants. To request more information about the company, please visit