Just three years after launching, Lively is helping older adults remain safe, healthy, and independent with an innovative connected home health platform. Their intelligent technology and passive activity sensors attach to movable objects around the home, like pillboxes, the refrigerator, or the front door and capture insightful data on behavior patterns that can be used to detect abnormalities and alert caregivers so they can step in before big problems occur. Oliver Wyman Associate Terrance Wallace caught up with Lively CEO Iggy Fanlo to learn more about how connected home health technologies can improve health and wellbeing:
Terrance Wallace: I noticed that you worked in banking and e-commerce before starting Lively. Tell us about your journey. What was it about healthcare that captured your interest?
Iggy Fanlo: In college I was interested in becoming a doctor, but after working in a hospital during my senior year, I got very disillusioned with the profession. I decided that practicing medicine was not the best path for me, but I was still curious about the intersection of technology and healthcare. Even today that curiosity is something that drives me. That intersection will really change our lives in the next 20 years – think personalized medicine, big data, genomics, RNA/DNA, data sharing and the use of that data is a positive way. These things can have a remarkable impact on our lives. Rather than medicine, I spent time in banking and advertising technology. I remember having a conversation with a mentor who said ‘you’ve been successful in life…now is the time to be significant.’ I took that to heart, because I really thought I could make a difference by pursuing my passion for healthcare and technology.
TW: How did you decide to focus on the senior population?
IF: I took a fresh look at healthcare and explored areas that were large and growing quickly. I cross-referenced that with areas that the bulk of entrepreneurs had ignored – the juncture that jumped out to me was aging. People are living much longer and this is becoming a huge demographic. One key insight is that older adults want to stay home and live independently. I thought about how I could leverage the explosion of sensor technology, cloud computing, wireless connectivity, and bring all of that together to make it more comfortable and safe to foster the independence that older adults want. Maintaining a sense of independence is the number one thing that people want as they age. I really wanted to enable that.
TW: I imagine there are still a few people out there who haven’t heard of Lively. Could you give us an overview?
IF: Lively is a really simple and easy to use consumer price point product that allows an older adult to remain safe and independent in their home longer. Most people have seen or heard that medical alert commercial: ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’ Well that’s a $3-4 billion industry globally, depending on who you talk to. It’s also a very high margin business that hasn’t had any innovation in decades, with high category awareness and very high purchase intent.
TW: What's the technology behind your solution? How does it work?
IF: We have a watch product that you wear, and it has a variety of functions – it’s a watch, a step counter, a medication reminder, and it’s also a medical alert. It works within 1500ft of the hub, which is cellular, so you don’t need to have home internet. That is really critical because only about 30% of older adults over 75 have home internet. We use Bluetooth low energy to connect our sensors and our watch to the hub. More and more Bluetooth connected biometric devices (e.g. glucose meters, blood pressure cuffs, bed sensors, weight scales, COPD inhalers) are getting FDA approval. We will be able to connect these devices to our hub and capture data that can be reported to caregivers, payers, health providers, yourself. We see a super quantified health kit that can be used to improve health and wellbeing. We started with the hub and medical alarm that can be expanded to incorporate a much wider ecosystem. We’ve just integrated our watch with Android and the iPhone is next. Now consumers can take the watch out of the house, and it’s still a medical alert button in case they encounter an emergency. The smartphone essentially becomes a floating hub and is our connection point to the cloud.
TW: You mentioned that maintaining a sense of independence is the number one thing that people want as they age. Can you tell us more about how Lively facilitates that sense of independence and wellbeing.
IF: When we study research on older adults or have focus groups and ask older adults what’s most important, they say independence. When you peel back that onion, the first thing they say is they want to be safe. That’s were our medical alert comes in. If you’re older, living alone, and you fall, you want to have some capability to reach out for help. The number two thing that they will talk about is medication reminders. With aging many people forget to take their medications. In our focus groups, we found that most of them already had some kind of medication reminder, but they were generally unsatisfied and frustrated with it. Our product is an integrated system that attaches to any pillbox to accurately keep track of when medication is taken and when you need a reminder or help.
TW: It seems that consumer input is critically important to you and your team as you continue to innovate and incorporate the features and functionality that create a better path to health and independence.
IF: Absolutely. The only way you do that is by really listening to your consumers and then working to develop a solution that is incredibly simple. If something is complicated, it never gets done. Simplicity has been a core design principle for us from day one. For instance with Bluetooth you generally have to pair your headset to your phone or with your car and you have to pair your router to something else – it’s a pain. For our demographic, we wanted to make it very simple. With Lively you just plug the device into the wall and everything works, there’s not even an on/off switch. So our system is automatically paired from a pair list rather than having to go through a series of steps to connect and integrate. That all comes from customer input and putting yourself in the customers shoes.
TW: What projects and partnerships are you working on now?
IF: Our business is primarily business-to-business-to consumer (B to B to C). We work with home care agencies, which is one of the fastest growing areas in our economy in terms of jobs. We also work with insurance companies that are offering the service to their policy holders. We’ve seen success with prolonging the period in which an older adult can safely and independently live in their home. This reduces the need for long term care and saves the insurance company a lot of money. There is also a cottage industry of dealers that sell medical alerts that we work with. We’re also talking to funeral homes—when one spouse dies the family is often worried because the remaining spouse will be alone. That’s certainly an area where we can help.
TW: What does the future of healthcare look like to you?
IF: I have a really strong opinion on this. Everyone is really afraid of sharing their healthcare data, but the reality is that if we all shared our data we would all be much better off. I liken it to the situation in Marin County, CA, where there were people that didn’t want to give their kids immunizations, yet they wanted every other kid to get immunizations so their kid wouldn’t get sick. I see a parallel here with data sharing. There are a lot of people that don’t want to share their data, but if we don’t, we’re not going to learn anything. If we all shared our data, we would be able to drive much better outcomes. If you had a certain amount of genomic data and you married that with behavioral data and outcome data, you would have a data set that would enable more prescriptive and personalized healthcare. Instead of running a drug trial that may take three or four years, you could run a computer simulation and, based on the molecular structure of the drug and person’s genetic makeup, you will be able to know whether a medication will work or not. Then you get to a place where you can reverse engineer a drug. More data sharing will lead to personalization, better outcomes, and better health.
TW: What advice do you have for other healthcare innovators?
IF: Pick one small problem and solve it rather than trying to do too much. Select an issue that matters to you and find a solution that fits the marketplace. It’s also important to understand that the investment community has this profile that companies that are successful are ones that move quickly, and that’s very hard to accomplish in healthcare.
About the Interviewer
Terrance Wallace is an Associate in Oliver Wyman's Chicago office. He has received numerous honors and awards for his clinical expertise and scholarship in geriatrics. He now brings this perspective to strategy work in healthcare.