Air Force acumen leads aged care renaissance

The connection between the air force and aged care may not be an obvious one but when you listen to the story of Perth-based technology leader, InteliCare, and its CEO Jason Waller, things start to make sense very quickly.

This former Australian Royal Air Force combat pilot spent 22 years in the forces, including a tour of duty in Iraq where he was Commander of an Australian Combat Task Group.

Since then he has led an aerial mapping company called Spookfish (snapped up in 2018 by US data analytics specialist, EagleView, for A$136 million), led several multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, and listed InteliCare on the ASX (ICR) in May raising $5.5 million before the books closed early.

(Editor’s note: InteliCare was the only Australian company to list in May, during the peak of the coronavirus, which says something about investor belief in its stock).

Why has the IPO been so popular?

Good sense/smart sensors

The Perth-based company, founded by Greg Leach and Mike Tappenden, installs smart sensors in homes of the elderly, or those living with disabilities, so that regression in physical or mental wellbeing can be detected through advanced analytical insights before an emergency occurs.

It makes absolute sense in a world where everyone is living longer and no-one wants to end up in an aged care facility.

As Jason explains: 

“Our system is like a guardian angel. It can turn any home into a smart home and a safe home, simply by installing passive sensors that can detect unusual changes in occupant behaviour.”

Privacy with insight

The grace of this product is its ability to give individuals privacy. It doesn’t use cameras, relying instead on passive infrared (PIR) mount systems fixed to inanimate objects like doorways and key appliances.

These discrete sensors gather information related to movement, temperature and activity around the home which is fed to carers and loved ones who can keep track of any irregularities. Some common examples are:

  • an individual with autism who hasn’t been opening the fridge or using the oven, indicating that they have not been eating;
  • someone who has used the toilet multiple times in a night, which could suggest they have an infection or the onset of diabetes;
  • a person who is sleeping on the living room armchair instead of their bedroom which could relate to fluid retention or even heart disease.

Says Jason: “These are sensors which can see everything even though they have no eyes.”

Goodbye pendant

The product also makes personal alarm pendants redundant.

“In the past, as people got older, they got, or were given, a pendant to hang around their neck and press if they got into trouble. But people don’t like them. It says; `I’m frail.’ People also forget pendants are there, or they forget to wear them. Statistics show, that in 30 per cent of falls, they don’t press them anyway.”

Universal appeal

Jason says InteliCare is an NDIS-approved product which has universal appeal because everyone has aging parents or grandparents.

“That’s the beauty of the product. Everyone has someone elderly in their life. It doesn’t matter what walk of life they come from. It was funny, when I was pitching to investors before the IPO, two minutes into the pitch, someone would start telling me all about their parents...”

A governmental impasse

Jason says it is a well-known fact that the aged care system is fatally flawed and the Government is unable to address the problem.

“The $500 million that came out of the Royal Commission only bought 10,000 home care packages for 120,000 people who were waiting for them. The aged care system has been systematically failing and the wrong conversations have been had. It’s not about getting more carers to solve the problem. If that was the solution, it would have been done long ago.

“The government cannot and won’t fill the funding gap. It’s now up to business to drive new technology and drive new business models."

Helping people

In terms of the future, Jason says Intelicare has big ambitions but a rational approach.

“Our centre of gravity is in Western Australia but we are rolling out in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. We have 250 customers with 3000 in our sights. But we are taking a methodical approach. The focus is on growing scale and marketing the technology.

“The technology is a perfect fit because it’s about helping people and my whole career has been about doing that.”