Andrew Dibner, Medical Alert Pioneer, Is Dead at 93


Andrew Dibner, a psychologist who launched a brand new phase within the well being care trade when he invented a medical alert system that permit aged and disabled folks name for assist once they can’t attain a phone or knock on a neighbor’s door, died on Saturday in a reminiscence care facility in Peoria, Ariz. He was 93.

Dr. Robin Dibner, his daughter, stated the trigger was problems of Alzheimer’s illness.

Mr. Dibner was a psychology professor at Boston College with a particular curiosity within the issues of previous age in 1972 when in the future, whereas shaving, he contemplated what occurs when a frail particular person, dwelling alone, falls and can’t transfer.

“How does somebody who can’t name for assist name for assist?” he recalled questioning.

He and his spouse, Susan Schmidt Dibner, a sociologist, answered the query in 1974 by beginning Lifeline Methods, widely known as the primary firm to promote private emergency response methods in the USA. She remained his associate within the firm.

Lifeline prompted different firms to enter the enterprise, most famously LifeCall, whose well-known tv industrial featured an older lady mendacity on the ground, saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t rise up!”

Mr. Dibner credited that advert with boosting his firm’s gross sales, as a result of it introduced nationwide consideration to the rising marketplace for Lifeline in addition to its rivals.

The system the Dibners devised offered at-risk folks with transmitters which are worn as pendants or bracelets. If they’re immobilized by a fall or an sickness however nonetheless acutely aware, they’ll press a button on the transmitter, which sends a sign to a console linked to their residence phone, which in flip robotically dials a central monitoring station.

As soon as the connection is made, an operator can assess the scenario, presumably by talking to the particular person by way of the console’s speakerphone after which calling for assist from a beforehand designated neighbor or relative or, in the end, an ambulance.

The Dibners stated they have been providing consolation and reassurance to individuals who would possibly in any other case should reside in nursing houses or who felt weak after being discharged rapidly from a hospital.

“Even when they didn’t use this,” Mr. Dibner advised The New York Occasions in 1984, “folks can have the psychological assurance that they’re not alone.”

The Dibners have been amongst a number of recipients of the Charles A. Dana Basis’s award for pioneering achievements in well being and training in 1986.

Andrew Sherman Dibner was born on Could 30, 1926, in Brooklyn to Harry and Masha (Goldberg) Dibner, immigrants from Russia. His father bought insurance coverage, and his mom was a seamstress and homemaker.

After serving stateside within the Military throughout World Warfare II, Mr. Dibner enrolled at Brooklyn Faculty. He didn’t do effectively in engineering programs and, guided by an inherent ability take a look at, shifted to psychology. After receiving his bachelor’s diploma in 1948, he attended the College of Michigan, the place he earned a grasp’s and a Ph.D. in psychology.

PictureCredit scoreJean Proulx Dibner

He moved between educating and scientific work for a decade earlier than settling at Boston College in 1964 as a psychology professor. He was a founding father of the varsity’s gerontology heart.

The thought for Lifeline got here to Mr. Dibner whereas he was on a analysis fellowship on the Duke College Middle for the Examine of Ageing and Human Growth in Durham, N.C. The corporate took form within the Dibners’ front room in Newton Centre, Mass., exterior Boston, and in an workplace over a dry cleaner’s in close by Watertown.

An engineer constructed the primary prototype of the system. However 25 enterprise capital corporations turned the Dibners down for financing.

“They favored the concept,” Mr. Dibner advised The Wisconsin State Journal in 1983. “They didn’t belief us as managers.”

After they introduced in an skilled businessman as the corporate’s chairman, enterprise capital cash got here in.

Initially, Lifeline’s goal clients weren’t high-risk adults however establishments like hospitals, nursing houses and well being care companies, which might purchase monitoring stations and cost charges to people who needed the service. The enterprise mannequin was finally augmented to incorporate promoting on to customers.

Mr. Dibner continued to show at Boston College till 1984, at the same time as he was constructing Lifeline.

Lively within the school union, he was considered one of 5 professors who in 1979 urged their college students to not cross the picket strains of putting employees members and librarians. The professors have been fired by John R. Silber, the college’s president, however reinstated after protesting school members voted to demand Mr. Silber’s dismissal.

Lifeline went public in 1983, and Mr. Dibner remained with the corporate till his retirement in 1990. In 2006, when Lifeline had greater than $100 million in annual revenues, 470,000 particular person subscribers and enterprise relationships with many well being care organizations, it was acquired by Royal Philips Electronics for $690 million.

The corporate, now referred to as Philips Lifeline, based mostly in Framingham, Mass., says it’s the main medical-alert service in the USA.

Mr. Dibner’s invention has developed since his retirement to incorporate fashionable twists like connections to cellphones and a expertise that may detect falls and ship emergency assist even when the particular person can’t push the transmitter.

Along with his daughter Robin, a rheumatologist, Mr. Dibner is survived by his spouse, Jean Proulx Dibner; his son, Steven; two different daughters, Nina Dibner and Lora Dibner Garcia; two stepdaughters, Jennifer and Suzanne Proulx; two stepsons, Thomas and Jonathan Proulx; 5 grandchildren; and 10 step-grandchildren. His first marriage, to Iris Miroy, led to divorce. Ms. Schmidt Dibner, his second spouse and associate at Lifeline, died in 1988.

Mr. Dibner’s curiosity in serving to fragile older folks started effectively earlier than he conceived Lifeline. In 1958, a household pal in her 70s, who lived alone, had a stroke and was not discovered for 3 days, additional compromising her well being.

“She died inside six months in a nursing residence,” he advised The Occasions. “Perhaps that was on my thoughts.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here