InTouch Health and Silverado Senior Living start clinical testing of remote presence robot Companion

Los Angeles 24 February 2003InTouch Health Inc., specialised in remote presence technology for health care providers, and Silverado Senior Living, a speciality Alzheimer's care provider, are collaborating to evaluate a revolutionary new system, a robot called the "Companion". When used in a long term care community, the Companion enables remote health care experts to "virtually" consult with caregivers, residents and family members at the point of care, whenever they are needed, forever changing the level of expertise available in long term care. With the Companion, an expert can move, see, hear, and talk in another location as though they were actually there.

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Unlike Silverado, the majority of long term care communities are not large enough to maintain a full-time staff of physicians and clinical specialists. Therefore, the Companion multiplies the impact of health care professionals by instantly bringing their expertise into the communities. This capability for experts to be virtually present at any facility on a moment's notice re-writes the economics and potential for quality of care. The Companion is like quadrupling the presence of experts while simultaneously lowering health care costs.

Moreover, the Companion can instantly and simply bring very specific areas of staff training, coaching, consulting, and monitoring into multiple care facilities, which offers improved management of the most challenging care issues for staff, residents and their families.

The Companion, developed by InTouch Health, is currently undergoing testing at Silverado Senior Living's speciality Alzheimer's community in Calabasas, California. Silverado's corporate health care experts, based approximately 80 miles south in San Juan Capistrano, California, are conducting tests with the Companion to evaluate the feasibility of using the robot to provide remote training, coaching, and quality assurance into the Calabasas community and ultimately to their other speciality Alzheimer's communities across California, Utah, and Texas.

Two other participants, Dan Osterweil, M.D., medical director for Silverado's Calabasas community and a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a family member of one of the residents, will also have access to the Companion as part of the evaluation. Early feasibility tests of the Companion were conducted at and continue with the Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara (RISB). RISB's professional physical, occupational, speech, and recreation therapists are conducting tests to assess the feasibility of using the Companion in remote rehabilitation treatments.

Yulun Wang, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of InTouch Health, stated: "Our nation, and the world for that matter, have entered a demographic crisis in health care. The first wave of baby-boomers have reached retirement age while the chronic shortage of health care professionals grows at an alarming rate. Through the Companion we can leverage the already scarce health care resources, magnify the impact of these individuals, and improve the effectiveness of existing frontline staff, all at a reduced cost to the health care system."

Loren B. Shook, president and CEO of Silverado Senior Living, added: "As a provider of long term speciality Alzheimer's care services, we have long recognised that the quality of our care services is a function of a well trained and supported staff. At Silverado Senior Living we are committed to providing a best-of-class training programme for our caregivers as demonstrated by the 2002 award we received for our training programme from the California Assisted Living Association."

"The InTouch Health solution allows us to further improve the level of training and support we can provide to our communities. Through the Companion we can respond immediately bringing health care experts to resident care issues or family concerns, and we can provide more frequent staff support and training. We are very pleased to be the world's first long term care provider to assess this new and innovative technology for improving the quality of care delivered to seniors."

Stephen F. Winner, vice president and chief of culture for Silverado Senior Living, and a nationally recognised authority in long term Alzheimer's care services, commented: "Our corporate team of experts has been conducting tests of the robot's capabilities for more than a month now. From the very first day, when our vice president of clinical services was able to help the Calabasas team assess a challenging case, we have been identifying great applications for this technology which adds real value to our communities."

Over the next ten years the number of elderly age 85 and over will grow 38 percent. The number of seniors requiring health care support will double. Already today, there are over 400.000 unfilled nursing positions causing health care providers across the country to close wings or risk negative outcomes. Over the coming years, the declining ratio of working age adults to elderly will further exacerbate the shortage. In 1950, there were eight adults available to support each elder 65+, today the ratio is 5:1 and by 2020, the ratio will drop to three working age adults per elder person. Technology solutions which dramatically increase the effectiveness of health care professionals are required.

InTouch Health is addressing this challenge by pioneering the use of remote presence in health care. Through a proprietary communications and mobile robotic platform, caregivers can be projected to another location where a patient or caregiver is located to provide care, coach and train staff, or monitor health care services. The InTouch Health solution leverages the time and expertise of health care professionals across many care facilities improving the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery.

Silverado Senior Living Inc. is a provider of specialised care for those with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Vascular and other memory impairment diseases. Silverado has a number of research affiliations with leaders in the field of Alzheimer's disease including the University of California at San Diego, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Utah, and most recently with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Silverado Senior Living Inc. was founded in 1996. Silverado currently operates 12 communities in California, Utah, and Texas, providing specialised long term, short term and day services.


Leslie Versweyveld

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