Nortek Grows mPERS Business With Numera Acquisition

Nortek Security & Control, the PERS provider featured in Life Alert commercials, has acquired Numera, maker of cellular-enabled health and wellness systems including fall detection and telehealth.

If you’ve seen the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials, you’ve seen Nortek Security & Control (Nortek: NTK), maker of 2Gig home automation systems, as well as the personal emergency response system (PERS) featured in the Life Alert ads.

Nortek, already a leading PERS provider, has now improved its position in the category by acquiring the mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) and telehealth assets from privately held Numera, Inc.

The transaction is valued at $12 million, plus consideration based on future sales, according to an SEC filing. Numera recorded unaudited net sales under $3 million in 2014, its first full year of sales.

Based in Seattle, Numera offers personal safety and wellness solutions that incorporate cellular-based communications. Its flagship mPERS device is the Libris, a small pendant that features hands-free, two-way communication, automated fall detection and location-based services. Numera, which has its roots in remote patient management, the acquired the Libris product line from BlueLibris in 2012.

Like traditional PERS systems, the Libris communicates with dedicated call centers that can dispatch advice and/or emergency responders. Unlike traditional systems, Numera’s solution operates outside of the home, and opens up hands-free, two-way communications with the call center in the event of a fall, as detected through the device’s onboard sensors and Numera’s proprietary algorithms.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one in three seniors fall each year, costing the U.S. healthcare system more than $34 billion annually, with 43% of these falls occurring outside the home. With the population aging, both the number of falls and the costs to treat related injuries are likely to increase.

“What we really focused on was an OnStar-like experience outside of the car, with a more individualized focus,” says Numera CEO Tim Smokoff in an interview with CE Pro, SSI‘s sister publication. (OnStar itself launched a telehealth system earlier this year.)

But there’s more. A key piece of the acquisition is Numera’s back-end systems, which provide user-friendly monitoring tools for the customer’s caregivers, which might include family members and healthcare providers.

Indeed, when Numera was founded four years ago, the guiding principle was, “How do you get more people involved?” Smokoff says.

Numera offers a secure portal that allows approved caregivers to monitor a customer’s activity … or non-activity, as the case might be. If a user falls asleep on a park bench, for example, family members and healthcare providers will know about it.

Telehealth

But Numera adds another layer of health-and-wellness management with Libris+, providing telehealth services through a number of third-party medical-monitoring devices, such as Abbott glucometers for diabetes care, Omron blood-pressure cuffs and ResMed CPAP machines for respiratory health.

Here again, Numera’s cloud service plays a key role in helping caregivers monitor users’ health and establish objectives for wellness.

The average PERS customer signs up at age 82 and uses the service for about three years. In Numera’s case, the average age of new mPERS subscribers is 71, potentially adding 10 years of recurring revenue.

It is the incorporation of these telehealth services that draws customers into the Numera mPERS business earlier than usual, according to Smokoff.

The average PERS customer signs up at age 82 and uses the service for about three years. In Numera’s case, the average age of new mPERS subscribers is 71, potentially adding 10 years of recurring revenue to the providers – both the call center and the dealer that interfaces with the customer.

The typical fee for mPERS is $30 to $50 per month, which includes the cellular service, currently provided through AT&T.

Smokoff says he believes Numera currently is “the only company to integrate personal safety and emergency response with a telehealth platform.”

Numera Synergies with Nortek PERS and Home Automation

Nortek is a worldwide leader in PERS, but its product line has not really evolved with the digital times. Numera quickly updates the Nortek health-and-wellness portfolio with mobile technology and cloud-based service.

About the Author

Contact:

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration.

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