RCare CEO and founder Myron Kowal was the feature of a recent Bridge the Gap podcast. He spoke with hosts Joshua Crips and Lucas McCurdy about the origins of RCare, the history, challenges, triumphs, and the future of nurse call systems as it relates to the aging population, and the critical importance of response times in senior living.

Kowal observed that 20 years ago, when everyone had home telephones, the early PERS devices “would call somebody on the telephone and say, hey, this person needed help. The cool thing about that was it had a voice to voice connection so when that person did call for help, they knew someone was coming. It was like, okay, someone’s on the way. I’m gonna be okay.”

As technology improved, the voice-to-voice interaction went away. “When that person pressed the button, they weren’t sure that someone was coming. They would hope that someone was coming and most of the time they did.”

If residents wait too long for help, or even if it just feels like they’ve waited too long, they try to do things on their own, and risk getting seriously hurt.

RCare did a pilot project with Fellowship Square in Arizona using Amazon Alexa. (See “Alexa, please call my nurse.“) “They’re able to say, ‘Alexa, I need help.’ And that would call a caregiver. And we have a voice-to-voice connection that says, ‘A caregiver is on the way.’ It makes people feel like I’m okay. That panic that ensues when you’re in trouble can cause a lot of things to happen.”

According to Kowal, he’s on an “answer the call kick.” If residents wait too long for help, or even if it just feels like they’ve waited too long, they try to do things on their own, and risk getting seriously hurt. 

In addition to offering voice-to-voice options, RCare wants to help communities reduce their response times. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You need to look at the data, draw your own conclusions, make your improvements, and then measure your effectiveness.” 

RCare provides detailed metrics to communities, to help them understand what their response times are, what factors affect the length of those response times, and how they can be improved. “What are the mean and average response times to calls? How many calls are we getting? How many caregivers are actually logged into the system in a facility where this is the number of calls that we have as opposed that are logged into the system? We can see those things right now by taking a look at that data, and we’re trying to give it back to the industry so that they can make those improvements.”

Check out the full Bridge the Gap podcast here.