For The Record with Scott Lien, Co-Founder & CEO, Grandpad

November 17  

Scott is GrandPad’s Chief Executive Officer, leading the company as it builds a platform that empowers seniors of all ages and technological skills to connect with family, friends, and caregivers. Having previously developed user-friendly software for companies such as Target, Best Buy, and Bank of America, as well as having led the mobile technology innovation group at Intuit, Scott brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience to the team. He is a practitioner of the LEAN Startup Method, which emphasizes putting users first and designing specifically to their needs. With GrandPad, he strives to create a world where no seniors are lonely or isolated.

What is GrandPad and what problem are you solving?

GrandPad is a simple, secure tablet computer that enables our mission to: Improve the lives of millions of seniors by connecting them with their family, friends, and caregivers.

The majority of people over the age of 75 cannot use standard technology such as smartphones or tablets. We commissioned a study called “In Real Life” where we went into seniors’ homes to understand the true use of standard technology. This study showed that only 18% of seniors have the ability to digitally share pictures with their family and just 5% of seniors have ever made a video call.

GrandPad was developed from the senior’s perspective, so they can confidently use it every day to digitally connect with their family, friends, and caregivers through simple email, video / voice calls, sharing pictures, games, music, and much more. From a healthcare standpoint, GrandPad serves as the digital interaction point in the senior’s home where the medical teams can easily communicate with their patients. GrandPad’s always-on 4G LTE connection coupled with our ability to connect devices in the home make it an ideal digital interaction point.

We have developed a number of connected devices for use with GrandPad such as a wearable, which tracks sleep and steps, and a digital body weight scale. The data captured from these devices is immediately available to the caregivers in simple and safe way. The device captures every click from the social interaction with family and friends; the combined device data and the social interaction data is very valuable from a healthcare perspective.

GrandPad’s extensive suite of APIs provides an easy exchange of data and enabling proactive intervention; it’s also an expandable platform for custom applications. The applications would deliver capabilities specific to the payer’s or provider’s healthcare needs for their patients. These custom applications could integrate with backend systems to enable seamless operations.

How did the company get started?

GrandPad was started six years ago by Scott Lien and Isaac Lien. They both lived in Southern California and Isaac’s grandparents lived in the Midwest. After several failed attempts to video call and share pictures digitally using standard technology, Isaac believed that a better solution could be built.

Scott and Isaac started GrandPad in the Chapman University startup incubator and had the first working prototype within the first few months. GrandPad has grown quickly with over 400,000 total users and their connected family, friends, and caregivers.

GrandPad can be bought online or in Target stores. GrandPad also has strategic partnerships with several non-medical, in-home care companies such as Home Instead, which utilize GrandPad in their daily operations.

What are some of the unique design elements that make GrandPad senior citizen friendly?

GrandPad was developed from a senior’s perspective thanks to our Grand Advisors who are an integral part of the design and development process. The Grand Advisors start at age 72 and the oldest is 105 years old. No new feature or function is released until it has the Grand Advisors’ seal of approval.

We set out to eliminate all the “points of frustration” seniors have with standard technology. These points of frustration start with the packaging: Trying to open your new smartphone box without scissors is problematic at best. The packaging has been engineered so we can confidently ship to a 90-year-old and know they will be able to unbox the GrandPad and use it within a few minutes.

During our development research we discovered several points of frustration from a usage perspective. Charging any device needs to happen frequently and the little plugs are hard to use, but GrandPad eliminates this point of frustration by utilizing inductive charging and a big charging cradle that has an attached 8-foot cord.

We also found that seniors’ fingers can be very dry, which makes using a touch screen problematic. GrandPad has increased the sensitivity of the touch screen and we ship each unit with a stylus. Many seniors suffer from small tremors or lack the motor skills to tap very small icons. GrandPad engineered capability to interpret the intent of the user rather than relying on explicit input.

All of these behind the scenes capabilities build up to the GrandPad user interface. All of the applications use big icons with easy-to-read text and consistent navigation within all of the applications.

GrandPad uses a 90 / 90 development philosophy: A 90 year old will be able to confidently use GrandPad in 90 seconds. We accomplish this goal by listening to our customer base and eliminating all of the points of frustration they encounter. GrandPad’s expertise is building technical solutions that a 90-year-old can confidently use from the time they unbox the GrandPad.

Consumerization of healthcare is a hot topic, GrandPad has been a consumer company from day one. What is something we can learn from consumer technology to improve healthcare?

The majority of seniors cannot use standard technology because it was not designed for them, it was designed for a 30-year-old. Expecting a senior to have a smartphone, download an app, log in, and confidently use the app to impact medical outcomes is not feasible. Super seniors (those over the age of 75) are also the highest consumers of healthcare services.

Focusing on the end user and delivering technology they love to use is the most important component of any solution. Building solutions for seniors is hard and takes a maniacal focus on their requirements. GrandPad has proven we can ship to a 90-year-old, they can unbox it, and use it within minutes.

From a healthcare perspective, engaging with the technology or solution is critical to impacting outcomes. GrandPad is technology that seniors engage with every day. Engaging technology is the hook that will enable the delivery of healthcare solutions to the senior that will lower costs and increase the quality of care.

You’ve started research with the University of California – San Francisco. What have you learned so far?

The University of California San Francisco study had two objectives:

Evaluate the feasibility of integrating age-friendly telemedicine in a home-based primary care setting

Evaluate the effects of engaging older adults with age-friendly technology to address loneliness.

The year-long study was conducted with patients ranging in age from 60 to 94. They were dual eligible (Medicare & Medicaid) and had high utilization of healthcare services.

  • The results were very encouraging:
  • 100% of providers who used GrandPad felt it was easy and efficient to use
  • 83% of providers felt the platform was easier than other platforms
  • 83% of patients felt GrandPad helped them connect to their providers
  • 82.5% of patients felt the GrandPad was easy to use
  • 78% of patients felt more connected as a result of using GrandPad

The study team concluded:

  • Patients and providers are satisfied with the age-friendly Grandpad tablet
  • The GrandPad platform is easily implemented within a healthcare setting
  • GrandPad fulfills its mission to connect older adults and reduce social isolation

From GrandPad’s consumer experience, we know that seniors will engage with GrandPad every day and we can confidently ship GrandPad’s to any age senior.

Through the University of California–San Francisco study, we proved that GrandPad can serve as the digital interaction point in the senior’s home; they will also use GrandPad in a healthcare setting and confidently interact with their providers.

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