Recognizing the shortcomings of elderly care technology, one woman (and her cofounder) from Brooklyn created SoundMind, a new system for assisted living facilities that would empower their residents.
Erum Azeez Khan, co-founder and CEO of SoundMind, saw the need to connect seniors living in assisted care facilities with a better system of technology. Older individuals often have trouble with smart phones and tablets but they still need the resources only high-tech gadgets can provide. That’s where SoundMind comes in.
Finding a Better Way to Treat Seniors
We sat down with Khan to talk about her company. SoundMind is a web platform that allows assisted living facilities to easily manage groups of devices like Alexa to provide better care for their patients. Nurses can set reminders for medications, list family contacts, play music, and ultimately customize and enhance the consumer experience for these seniors.
While most entrepreneurs gear their apps and technologies towards millennials, Khan saw how many benefits elderly care technology can have and how having access to these tools can actually empower seniors.
Grit Daily: What promise do voice assistants hold for elder care facilities?
Erum Azeez Khan: 90% of elder care facilities are understaffed resulting in overworked caregivers that have limited quality time to spend with seniors dealing with the challenges of aging like lack of activity, illness, and loneliness. And because seniors have difficulty using smartphones, this limits their access to the people and services they need.
Voice assistants help people navigate the web and access information in the cloud without the need for a handheld device. They are very easy for seniors to use after they are initially set up. As you can imagine, this opens up their worlds to a slew of services, information, and communications that they might have never experienced.
Beyond what comes standard with voice assistants that consumers buy, facilities can personalize them with specific information, keeping seniors informed, engaged, and connected for a fulfilling lifestyle.
GD: What tech do facilities rely on today?
EAH: Many facilities still use paper-based record keeping and others use administrative software mainly for staff.
To communicate with residents, facilities tend to have alert systems like pull cords in resident rooms that send a sound to one central location. Or the “life alert” pendant worn around the neck of residents.
GD: Why are they inadequate?
EAH: Administrative software is hard to train staff to fully adopt, and most importantly, leave out the seniors that this tech is meant to serve and their families. The trouble with alert systems is that if a resident cannot reach to the pull cord, or is not wearing the pendant, then how can they get a quick response in situations that require it?
GD: What does your tech do?
EAH: We provide all the hardware and setup so facilities simply plug them in to get started using voice assistants like other consumers. Then we provide our SoundMind dashboard which manages every device in the building to customize them individually or by categories like resident rooms, common areas, and staff offices.
Our dashboard is connected to voice applications we designed for senior living like a request tracker, activity calendar, menus, calling and messaging, without the need of a smartphone.
GD: Who are your clients?
EAH: Our clients are some of the most prestigious and sought after senior living communities in New York like The New Jewish Home, 80th Street Residence, and Lott Residence. We also ship plug and play hardware anywhere in the country and have done so for customers in Minnesota and Kentucky.
GD: What’s one conventional wisdom about using voice assistants that’s just plain wrong?
EAH: Many people believe that because older adults have had difficulty using traditional technology like smartphones and tablets, they will have equal difficulty using voice assistants.
I’m here to say: they can easily use them after setup, and in fact, use them more than their younger counterparts. We see that our users speak with voice assistants five times more than the average consumer, with some engaging up to 100 times a day.
Check out Erum Azeez Khan on Twitter for more developments regarding SoundMind. Khan was nominated in for a Brooklyn Innovation Award as Scientist of the Year in 2017, so expect to see a lot of great things from this amazing woman entrepreneur.