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Katelyn Egger | SBJ

A Conversation With ... Myke Bates

CEO, Hearo Technologies LLC

Posted online

Tell me about the software and services Hearo provides and how they are supporting people in the disabled community?
We, a number of years ago, were clued into the intellectually and developmentally disabled space and the need for technology. There is a massively increasing demand for services needed in that space, and the aging space as well. Each state has a different funding mechanism for how they deal with Medicaid and how that gets dispersed. Now there’s an initiative called Technology First. It’s an initiative that the state takes on that says we are going to first look at technology to how to cast this net wider and how we can solve more problems in a much cheaper and, a lot of times, more efficient manner. Enter now the players in the space. You’ve got your provider agencies. The way they operate, at least for sake of this conversation, is that they staff one care staff in a home to monitor directly, in person, one individual. What these care provider agencies have started utilizing is remote supports and assistive technology. The idea with this is that you utilize sensors, sometimes video equipment, and a bunch of other smart home devices to not only keep track of the individuals in their home and their well-being but also set it up so that the home is really working for the individual, too. There is the massive gain from the individual, which is untold amounts of independence and freedom that they otherwise weren’t getting. For example, when it’s time to take (medicine), setting it up so that with our system, we have a number of things that happen like lights will turn on and turn a specific color. Our tablet that they have will speak a message that their care provider set about the meds. They can start a video call. We’ve designed our system to be utilized by care provider agencies, whereas most of the other companies in this space provide not only the technology but also the support. Effectively, we are democratizing the idea of remote supports.

Locally, you’re working with Arc of the Ozarks. How does that partnership work?
We’ve got what’s called an assistive technology model and one that’s called a remote supports model. We’ll start with the remote supports model. With a company like Arc of the Ozarks, like Sevita in St. Louis or Life Unlimited in Kansas City – these are all partners of ours – we work with them to train them on how to use it, and they have a flat-rate model that is based per location. The assistive technology is also pretty much a flat rate as well, but what it doesn’t have is the assumption that there is an agency behind that doing the monitoring. If somebody just needs it for aging mom and dad, they can set it up, and it’s significantly cheaper because it’s not backed by the same 24/7 monitoring that we provide to the remote support side. It is $80 a month versus $625 a month for the remote support.

How many clients can your partners monitor and service at one time remotely?
Missouri allows one support person to remotely monitor 16 individuals.

Tell me about some of the other features of the technology.
One of the biggest ones that we use is a bed sensor. This is not necessarily meant to track sleep habits, although there are some that can. The biggest thing that we find use out of the bed sensor is pairing it with other events, elopement risk being one of the highest. Remote support and/or family want to know a lot of times after a certain hour if that front door opens, there’s a good chance that might’ve been Bobby, right? Pairing that with the bed sensor oftentimes is one of the best precursors. Then, couple that with our video doorbell that helps capture any other actions. A simple door and window sensor we use on a lot of things, like refrigerators, pantries, cabinets, down to things like safes and finance boxes. We can lock and unlock things remotely and then also give status anytime these open or close.

How many locations and clients do you have?
It’s approaching 100 locations. As far as individuals, we are close to double that.

How are you expanding this technology into senior care?
We’ve known we wanted to get into the aging space, and we are finally about to do that. One of the big things that we were missing, and this is the thing that we’re exploring with SeniorAge [Area Agency on Aging] in a pilot program – it’s not publicly available – but what we’re exploring with them is adding on a service layer to Hearo, which is monitoring. We’ve never offered monitoring, at least from a human-monitored perspective. We’ve got such an awesome platform, and not having some layer of monitoring that we’re offering directly feels like a pretty big miss. When you take a look at what SeniorAge is looking to achieve with providing families with this kind of technology, it really does make sense for us to add in a minimal monitoring layer. So, the emergency button pressed on their watch or pendant, fire alarm went off, a fall event – those are the three main things that we’re going to start with. The way that’s going to be designed is that the family is the first line of defense, so automated alerts will go out to them. If none of them answer, that’s when it falls back to Hearo’s monitoring. We’ll follow the routine that we’ll have in place for each individual, which is either leave a final message with somebody or dispatch emergency services.

You’ve recently stepped into the CEO role succeeding your co-founder Jim Carr. What’s your vision for growth?
The next step would be covering more of Missouri. We’re certainly around Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, Kirksville. Specifically in areas like Kansas City and St. Louis, we could be doing a lot more business. Our eyes are dead set too on, ideally, national coverage. The ultimate goal is for Hearo to be the name equated with remote supports and assistive technology.

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