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PERS Promising but Also Problematic

The rising personal emergency response systems (PERS) market presents potential liabilities.

As the market opportunity for personal emergency response systems (PERS) continues to gain traction for installing and monitoring electronic security providers it is raising some unique questions with potential legal implications. What are the ramifications of keeping “medical” data on a client’s PERS account? Does it increase a provider’s liability? For example, would it violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by noting on an account and relaying during dispatch, “82-year-old female with diabetes and high blood pressure”? Even though the monitoring company is only repeating information supplied by the client, what if that info is no longer current (i.e. medications changed) or what if the medical condition on record is unrelated to why they pushed the button?

Like many of today’s technologies, PERS has been impacted by advances in mobile communications. PERS used to be confined to a base unit, usually in the bedroom, with a pushbutton to activate. Then, remote pendants to be used in the house in close proximity to the base unit became available. Then, remotes that had a greater range and the subscriber could wander outside the house, but not too far. Range increased with repeaters.

RELATED: How PERS Can Drive Business for Security Dealers

Now comes mPERS, or mobile PERS. The carry device, pendant or watch can go anywhere. But that’s not the latest technology. mPERS is now available on the subscriber’s smartphone and, if so enabled, the monitoring central station can locate the subscriber via GPS, talk to the subscriber and even have face-to-face interaction. This service can be used as mobile panic alert, medical response or locater facilitator. Offered by the alarm dealer or by services directly to consumers, these devices are adding to the ever-increasing list of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) technology services.

About the Author

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Security Sales & Integration’s “Legal Briefing” columnist Ken Kirschenbaum has been a recognized counsel to the alarm industry for 35 years and is principal of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, P.C. His team of attorneys, which includes daughter Jennifer, specialize in transactional, defense litigation, regulatory compliance and collection matters.

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