I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura D. Jackson, BSN, MPH and co-founder of iFALLCEPT, a company that has developed the first iOS app available to the public to help stop falls, a deadly killer among seniors that is often addressed too late. She leads outreach and public awareness on senior falls and prevention and prior to iFALLCEPT, successfully created and managed a thriving home health agency which served thousands of seniors and employed hundreds of healthcare workers for nearly 20 years, Patient Care Services Inc (PCS).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My story comes from both a professional and personal side. I was a Nurse Entrepreneur for nearly 20 years and a strong senior and patient advocate for 30 years. I created and ran three very successful agencies and through my broad scope and understanding, could see patterns being repeated over and over. My agencies used the best tools available at the time to help our patients stay safe and healthy, but I always felt like there should be a supportive home element that would allow for seniors to take meaningful steps on their own to ensure their safety.
Now that I am a senior, I personally have had friends’ lives changed forever because of falls. A once vibrant golfer and gardener becomes a shut-in due to a fall. An active man falls in the shower and becomes dependent on others. I have friends who never returned to their previous lifestyle and that’s just shocking and upsetting. My own Dad died from complications after a fall, so this is very personal to me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
We had multiple payor sources and one of these sources was known to try and squeeze their providers and not pay for services rendered. This was a large payor source, so there wasn’t an option to exclude them from my business. In my line of business, the rule books are as thick as an entire series of Encyclopedia Britannica, so to say that most business owners knew all these rules was a fallacy. This is where the payor source won their game.
I received a call saying the payor source was going to claim over 100k worth of money my company had earned and if I wanted to protest, I had to fly out to their office and basically stand trial. I called up my lawyer and we set the date and we flew out together to meet the panel that oversaw the 100k of my money.
When we arrived, I knew this was going to be a battle. They had a panel of people well versed in the rule books and tried their level best to stump me and prove that they were correct in withholding the 100k. They had their shark go after us saying they would take more than the 100k if we didn’t accept a settlement of 10%. It took several hours of back and forth and they begrudgingly offered me a settlement of 50%. I wasn’t going to accept this. My lawyer told me to take the deal. My lawyer asked for a break and we walked outside. He told me to take it, that it was a good deal and we weren’t going to get any better. I told him it was my decision and I wasn’t going to settle for 50% and I would have rather forfeited all of the money than to agree that I was wrong in any way. I knew my business and I knew the rules and I knew I was right.
The hearing continued, and the grilling commenced, and I never faltered. I walked out of that hearing with the most money they have ever awarded back to an agency, 90% of that 100k. That’s why my advice to any business owner is to always know your business better than anyone else and never back down from a fight you know you can win.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
iFALLCEPT is an app you download on your iPhone or iPad which allows you to do the most comprehensive room by room assessment available. We have over 500 questions with the ability to identify, add, and customize even more, using all the latest research on falls and their causes. We gained insights from home health agencies, CDC, Mayo Clinic and many other national agencies with specialties ranging from handrails to electrical appliances. The app also has a fire awareness portion to round out the home safety for seniors which was reviewed and approved by fire department personnel.
How do you think this might change the world?
We will help change the word one entrepreneur and one senior at a time. We have two products, an enterprise edition and an individual edition. The enterprise edition helps entrepreneurs that serve seniors have the most comprehensive fall prevention program on the market. It allows users to be more thorough and have less chance of missing critical fall risk items in the home. The app also provides real statistics and reasons to make changes in the home. Convincing a senior to act has always been a key critical component to home fall safety assessments.
We also put power in the hands of seniors and those who love seniors by providing an individual version of the app. We really like this because anyone can use it. It’s simple and straightforward and has special training inside. We also added free fall prevention exercises because leg strength and stability are large contributors to falls, as we consider this app a holistic approach to fall prevention. It gives a seniors and families peace of mind.
Imagine a world where we’ve changed behaviors of seniors in a positive way — for every senior to get a home safety check yearly, just like a doctor’s visit. Right now, according to the CDC, a senior dies every 20 minutes from a fall, so more awareness about iFALLCEPT and the importance of fall safety could drastically decrease the effects of falls on our seniors, their families and their communities, ultimately preventing untimely injuries and deaths.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I do not see any potential drawbacks. This is a win-win situation anytime someone uses iFALLCEPT.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
My daughter and I had talked before about the incidence of falls, especially after my Dad, her GrandPa died. My daughter’s background is in IT so as we progressed, it was only natural for us to end up with an app for people to use to prevent falls and improve home safety.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
Increased awareness through marketing and publicity efforts, as well as good old-fashioned word of mouth. Additionally, as the adoption of the app continues (it only launched in July of this year), we look forward to spreading the word about the stories of users who used the app to successfully avoid falls or helped others do so, as caretakers.
We also have taken up helping agencies publicize and market their own fall prevention programs, as the enterprise version of the app includes free marketing videos and advice. By helping agencies, who can reach many seniors, we believe we can help the widespread adoption and acceptance of fall prevention.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
Our marketing strategy has been a multi prong approach. We had the opportunity to work with a publicist in the beginning phases, which has led to be featured in several articles and also won us interviews on radio.
Then we began utilizing social media marketing. We thought this was a good avenue due to the sheer volume of seniors and businesses online. We have had several successful campaigns garnering us a following and we strongly believe outreach and education is how we are going to shift the current mentality on falls and fall prevention.
Finally, we have decided to put resources into helping businesses use our app to market their programs effectively. We have a lot of experience in marketing and this was just a natural progression for the promotion of our product.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Although I cannot give credit to any individual person or training, I can say that as an entrepreneur, you must surround yourself with positive people who all have gifts of their own. Excellence is a trait that is hard to find, and I always strived to have an excellent circle of people around me. You can consider these people your circle of influence. If you choose wisely these people will always bring out the best in, you.
About midway through my entrepreneurial career, there was a huge shift in how the healthcare financials were supposed to be processed. It was such a drastic shift that more than half of the individual business owners I knew had to close shop. I had several “advisors” tell me I should close up shop too. This was devastating, as I had several “real” conversations with the people that I most trusted and came to the conclusion that I was going to pull through it.
So, against the hired advisors’ recommendations, I pushed forward and pulled through one of the most trying and stressful times in my business. This was a big lesson for me, as I later went on to sell that business for multiple 7 figures.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1.) Trust Your Gut — This is a big one for me. I have frequently had very large decisions that literally made my business go against all that was being sold to me from “so-called” experts. Your gut instinct can be your best friend, if you measure it against the so called “facts”.
2.) Fear is your biggest obstacle. Fear really is a bad four-letter word. Everyone thinks that entrepreneurs or people who set out on new adventures must be fearless. The truth is, no one with any intelligence is fearless, but they may have the ability to harness their fear. Harnessing your fear and realizing your ability to change your world and the world around you really is the greatest gift you can give to the world.
3.) Plan for your successes as much as your failures. Everyone is afraid of failure and there is always talk about what you should do to avoid failure. Well, the truth of the matter is that you should prepare yourself even more for success. Success can be as traumatic as failure, which is why being successful is all about being prepared. Not only being prepared in your business but being prepared personally to be able to achieve and succeed with confidence. Success is when opportunity meets preparation.
4.) Change is inevitable, be open to it in your business. Change is going to happen. You can count on that. Don’t ever depend on things continuing the same as It just doesn’t happen that way. You should never get too comfortable in what you are doing, and you should always look for the challenge. Look for a new way of doing things and you will never be disappointed.
5.) Always hire for attitude and personality as well as skills. I know everyone wants to hire for the skills they require in a job. That is a correct assumption, however, I think that unless one is working in isolation (that is, no contact with others), then you must hire them for their attitude as well as skill. You can get a great resume from a potential employee and say, “Wow, I really want that person to work in my business.” Then, you interview them and, “Whoa, what happened to that wonderful skilled person on paper?” Suddenly they become someone that you do not want to work for you and represent your business to your clients. Always hire for attitude and personality as well as skill. This will never let you or your business down.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Nearly 27,000 seniors die EVERY year due to falls and we aim to change that. What people don’t understand is that falls not only affect the individual, but also the entire community which surrounds them. It’s not just family that is affected, but friend circles, neighbors, communities in which seniors are an active part.
Imagine a senior who is active in volunteering, is a member of several clubs and babysits for her grandchildren on Fridays and has a weekly dinner out with her husband at a local boutique restaurant. Imagine her falling and breaking a hip. If she is between the ages of 60 to 69, she is 5x more likely to DIE in a year than her peers. Imagine all the lives that will be impacted by this one singular event.
Now the thing that will shock you is this most likely didn’t need to happen. 85% of falls happen in and around the home, 50% of those are due to extrinsic factors, which means they were PREVENTABLE!
How many lives can be changed just be addressing these extrinsic factors is exciting to us at iFALLCEPT. We, as a community, CAN and WILL make a difference and the best part…it’s an app that you can download on your iPhone, iPad for less than a two-person meal at McDonalds.
We urge everyone who is a senior, knows a senior and who loves a senior to reach out and download iFALLCEPT and help save lives.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Just as ripples spread out as a single pebble is cast out into the water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”
I have always found that it literally takes only one individual to change the energy in a room. It also only takes one individual with passion and influence to make a movement. At iFALLCEPT, we hope that individual business owners and individuals themselves take up the cause and fight back against senior falls. The ripple effect of just one person being proactive is really exciting to us.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
What better investment can you make than investing in the lives and souls of communities — our seniors. The facts are staggering, and the statistics are just scary. Falls are extremely costly, to the tune of 50 billion dollars every single year. A senior dies every 20 minutes from a fall and the CDC is estimating that a senior will die every nine minutes in the United States by 2030. This means according to them, there is no solution and we are on a downward spiral but imagine instead being a part of the solution.
What’s the solution? Our endgame is to create a full-service fall prevention platform. Everyone, if they are lucky, will eventually become a senior and everyone needs to have a fall risk assessment at least yearly, as we recommend every six months or change in condition. We are looking to be more than just a home safety assessment app.
We will be including an exercise channel, which will have free channels and advanced paid channels for seniors to choose from. We will include comprehensive product recommendations based upon user input and will promote night lights, hands free lighting solutions, slip resistant tabs, handrails, and every other product that a senior needs to stay safe in their own home.
We want to be the one stop shop for all your fall prevention needs. From a home safety analysis & exercises to home improvement, iFALLCEPT will be the brand and name people choose to make themselves and their homes safer.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We have recently launched a Facebook account and you can watch for us on influencer websites, giving free contact and educating the public.
Be a part of a movement and follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ifallcept/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.