The Evolution of PERS

June 13, 2016
As more baby boomers reach retirement, health and wellness is emerging as a viable strategy for security RMR

As a country, the United States hit a significant and impactful milestone within the past few months. According to PEW Research, millennials, or people aged 18-34 in 2015 totaled 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million baby boomers (ages 51-69) in the U.S. population.

Just as our country is experiencing a shift in demographics, so too are the markets dedicated to serving the aging population and their younger family-member caregivers. One example of this can be seen in the personal emergency response system (PERS) industry. Substantial advancements in both the medical and technological fields have contributed significantly to increasing life expectancy as people are living longer, healthier lives. In the last century alone, global life expectancy has nearly doubled and on average, people are living past their 70s and often longer.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of 65 or older individuals is expected to increase significantly over the next two decades, with the fastest growth expected to come from the number of people 80 years or older. As our population undergoes these changes, one trend security dealers cannot afford to ignore is the evolution of the PERS user.

An aging population with the desire to remain in their homes represents a significant health and safety risk that must be addressed. One in every three people age 65 and older experience a fall, they unfortunately have an increased risk of another; however, today technology is being used to complement more active lifestyles and seniors are no exception.

Dealers who recognize that there’s been a shift in what they may consider “the traditional PERS user” have several methods at their disposal to increase their RMR and start a completely new revenue stream for their business. For some, it might be as basic as analyzing their customer base and retargeting. For those looking for more and are open to embracing new solutions, aligning your company with the right partners has the potential to vastly increase business.    

Evolving Technology

Advancements in personal safety monitoring technology have expanded the market, and give home security dealers the opportunity to expand traditional security offerings. The ability to integrate mobile communication technology into PERS devices has allowed solutions to break free from simply monitoring users when they are home, to traveling with them when they leave the house and lead active lives.

Mobile PERS solutions provide the same level of protection and assistance that users have come to expect from their home-bound PERS system. Echoing this trend, traditional PERS pendants — linked to stationary home base stations — were only expected to grow 2 percent per year from 2012 to 2015 whereas mPERS solutions linked to mobile networks were expected to grow 35 percent per year within the same three years.

The need is there — nearly 90 percent of seniors express a desire to stay in their homes as long as possible and most feel that a solution that enables them to call for help easily would make them feel safer and more comfortable. Given the market potential and the need exists, how can home security dealers leverage these new technology offerings to expand their base and increase monthly recurring revenue streams?

Selling Peace of Mind

In many ways, mPERS solutions share many of the same value propositions security dealers are already accustomed to using when selling a home security system. Dealers recognize that a good sales pitch does not involve selling the system equipment or gear, but rather the experience or peace of mind that it provides to the homeowner and their family.

The same is true for the mobile PERS solution. With so many families dealing with an aging relative who wishes to remain independent at home, their number-one concern is safety. Will mom or dad be safe in their daily activities? What happens when they leave the house to visit friends or run errands? Short of constantly stopping by, how can I know what’s going on with my loved one while still maintaining their privacy and dignity?

Security dealers can use mobile personal safety offerings that integrate with home security systems to sell a solution that solves these problems for caregivers, and makes the user feel protected and comfortable at home. In many cases, the person making the buying decision is not the same person using the device, so it’s important for dealers to understand who the customer is, what their needs are and who the system will impact when selling the product.

Target Existing Clients for Upsell and RMR

For dealers accustomed to selling traditional systems, adding a PERS solution is a natural and easy fit to add RMR. There is a strong parallel between an individual who is able to financially invest in a traditional home security system and someone who may also be interested in a PERS solution. In general, both buyers fit a certain profile both from a demographic and financial standpoint, have done a fair amount of research and have good reason to purchase a system.

As a first step, dealers can analyze their existing subscriber base and make informed decisions using the data available to them to begin marketing PERS solutions to their existing customers. This is a great place to start and can be low-hanging fruit as PERS solutions are a natural extension of their security system offering.

Flexible Pricing Models

Like monitored and installed security system pricing, PERS systems can be divided into different tiered price models to deliver the right solution for the right customer. With increasingly affordable technologies and devices, PERS devices are more widely available, and customized solutions can be found at every price point. For example, a $60 per month full-service subscription might include a full home safety monitoring solution, with in-home and travel wearables paired with a home safety hub and an on-demand help button with integrated security sensors. For a family looking at the cost of a home health aide or other in-home assistance, this monthly fee is an affordable option for keeping a loved one safe and independent at home.

Of course, not every customer is going to want a full suite of personal safety devices and may be looking for a lower-cost option. A $15 per month personal help solution is also available that offers on-demand 911 alerts in case of emergency without fall detection or call monitoring. In both cases, the dealer has a variety of options to deliver to the customer, to create custom solutions based on their budget and lifestyle needs.

Adding Health and Wellness to the Portfolio

Beyond targeting existing customers, dealers have the unique opportunity with personal mobile safety solutions to think outside of the box and brand themselves as a provider of health and wellness solutions. While these health and wellness opportunities such as Remote Patient Monitoring may have a longer lead time and require more time intensive work on behalf of the dealer, they offer numerous methods to increase RMR for their business.

With the senior population in the U.S. on the rise, there are significant incentives for healthcare providers to reduce the number of readmissions and keep their patients safe at home. This offers security dealers the opportunity to partner with those serving the senior community and leverage their core strengths as home technology experts to deliver these solutions. One Numera dealer, for example, has partnered with a large medical center and a monitored provider to start managing multiple mPERS users to provide remote patient monitoring.  

Dealers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of these opportunities, manage the sale of PERS products equipped to deliver remote patient monitoring, and eventually drive organic growth and business referrals. With health and wellness technology still emerging as a viable business strategy for the security space, early adopter dealers can align themselves with the right partners and make these types of opportunities a core part of their business.

Matt Campbell is VP of Sales, Health & Wellness for Nortek Security & Control. Request more info about the company at