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OPTIMIZE Sneak Peek #4: Interview with K.C. Kanaan

OPTIMIZE Sneak Peek: Interview with K.C. Kanaan Guest blog post written by: Cynthia Seymour   K.C. Kanaan, CEO of Envoy America, joins luminary Dr. Bill Thomas, author Chip Conley and innovator Dr. Cory Kidd at the upcoming Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference in San Francisco November 14-15, 2017.    With isolation among American older adults becoming a major health issue, Envoy offers transportation for the elderly with guided companionship for social outings, errands and medical appointments. Envoy’s transportation service is filling a much needed gap for elders who want to remain active and engaged, but who may struggle with elements of the daily routine and getting out. The service is being rolled out in major metropolitan areas in Arizona, New Mexico, New Mexico, Florida, Oregon and Washington with others on the horizon.   Enter K.C. Kanaan, a CEO who’s literally in the driver’s seat. He dedicates time each week of every month on operations. Some days he’s driving clients around asking them what can be done to improve service; other days he’s calling his Envoy drivers, asking for feedback and thanking them for their work. It’s no wonder he gets handwritten thank you notes and calls from the families served.  When you ask him about his business he’s effusive about his clients: couples they take to the theater; friends who meet once a month for lunch across town; an octogenarian who needs a lift to the Y in the early morning for his constitutional swim. “It’s not all doom and gloom and doctors appointments. We take people to spring training, to professional and college football games,” says the former technology General Manager, turned restaurateur, now Aging2.0 entrepreneur. “We’re like the sons and daughters. We have the compassion and patience to help elders. We give them back the freedom and independence they once had,” adds Mr. Kanaan.   In fact that’s how Envoy started. Several years ago when he noticed his aging parents’ health was changing, the sibling got together to figure out how to best keep them living safely and happily at home. “Taking a taxi with memory issues…my mom had to navigate the elevator and find the medical office. My dad used a walker and couldn’t carry grocery bags when he went to the store. I never thought transportation was such a big deal until my parents needed help,” recounts Mr. Kanaan. Traditional transport services pick you up and drop you off at a location. Elders with vision, memory and mobility challenges need assistance. Envoy drivers help clients get into the car, help them out of the car, guide them to their destination, wait for them, then repeat the process back to their home, whether it’s to visit a friend, see a movie or go to church.   Mr. Kanaan is not doing this alone; he’s banking on partnerships, and they’re impressive ones including the American Cancer Society and Mayo Clinic. While 80 percent of Envoy clients are elders, they transport younger patients going through cancer and other life saving treatments. Before Envoy, these organizations were using volunteer drivers, but patients need consistent, reliable transport. Their health and their life depend on it. Taxis, Uber and the like tend to be more expensive because they’re priced on mileage. Envoy’s pricing is based on time and the typical need is two hours. Envoy has proven they can deliver a cost advantage while adding the extra attention elders and patients appreciate. Drivers are background checked, first aid and CPR certified and are trained in proper transfer techniques as well as dementia.   So what is the advice Mr. Kanaan can offer new Aging2.0 entrepreneurs? “Don’t just dream about something that might work.” He recommends designing it so adult children can interact well with the service, but make sure it works for their elders who’ve been writing with pen and paper for 60, 70 years. “It’s the combination of both,” remarks Kanaan. As for his business philosophy: “Hire the best people who know how to take care of clients; control your cost by keeping it simple; take care of the client better than anyone else.”   Ask about a high point and you’ll learn about Mrs. Burke. She use to go to sleep every night praying she wouldn’t wake up in the morning. Now she prays that Envoy doesn’t go out of business because it changed her life. Transportation, something we take for granted in our youth becomes a necessity for health and quality of life later on. By making life worth living for, Envoy is making some serious inroads.  
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Four innovation takeaways from a day spent with home theater integrators

I just returned from a flying visit to Indianapolis, home of racecars, the Slippery Noodle haunted bar, and the CEDIA Expo, the annual trade show for the custom home integrators that make houses into tricked-out, electronic-media-rich homes. I was struck by how the same innovation-related discussions we're having at our Aging2.0 events are increasingly relevant in their world. 
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We're all Floridians now. First impressions from a week down south

As climate change threatens to replace tepid summers with scorchers, and the proportion of the West's population over 65 rises to one fifth within the next decade, many countries will arguably begin to look a lot like Florida.
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McKinsey - barriers to aging in place

Good summary of key success factors in aging in place technologies in the current McKinsey Quarterly. "In the United States, home care accounts for about 3 percent ($68 billion a year) of national health spending. The market is increasing by about 9 percent annually, solid but hardly booming growth, especially since labor (mainly nurses and aides) accounts for about two-thirds of the expenditure and home-monitoring technology represents a small fraction of it. What’s holding the market back? We observe a daunting array of financial and operational barriers, including the misalignment of incentives between payers and providers, the need to demonstrate a strong clinical value proposition, and the problem of designing attractive, easy-to-use products that facilitate adoption by patients." They boil them down to financial, effectiveness and accessibility factors: Financial factors 1. Alignment between payers and providers.
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See how the Europeans are doing it - EU report on age-tech

For those interested in the European market, the European Commission last year produced a fairly comprehensive review of the market: ICT & Ageing - European Study on Users, Markets and Technologies.
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Care Innovations Connect

Good post by Laurie Orlov covering GE-Intel's Care Innovations new Connect offering. This is the Big Daddy in edler-care tech throwing its considerable resources behind one of the most quoted use cases - easy to use, tablet based social interaction for elders living at home. There are a number of smaller companies such as GrandCare, Waldo Health and Independa's Angela that will need to be looking at this in detail to answer the inevitable questions about how they are different. It's too early to know how nimbly and the Care Innovations team will handle this, and where the space will be for the others. But there will be space. Care Innovations -- tackling social isolation and wellness.  In some ways, yesterday’s launch of Connect from Intel-GE’s wholly owned Care Innovation joint venture should come as no surprise. When the companies combined last year, spun out of Intel’s Digital Health group and GE’s QuietCare business units, I was hopeful that they would transcend limitations of the previous parents. Especially given Intel’s investment history of researching social needs of seniors, Omar Ishrak’s comment last August really resonated: "We recognize that the conditions faced by home health patients are not necessarily clinical. It is part of our core mission [in the Joint Venture] to address social and support needs."
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