Andrew Dibner, Medical Alert Pioneer, Is Dead at 93


Andrew Dibner, a psychologist who launched a brand new phase within the well being care business when he invented a medical alert system that allow aged and disabled folks name for assist once they can not 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 issues of Alzheimer’s illness.

Mr. Dibner was a psychology professor at Boston University 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 individual, residing alone, falls and can’t transfer.

“How does someone who can’t call for help call for help?” he recalled questioning.

He and his spouse, Susan Schmidt Dibner, a sociologist, answered the query in 1974 by beginning Lifeline Systems, widely known as the primary firm to promote private emergency response techniques within the United States. She remained his companion 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 get 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 will press a button on the transmitter, which sends a sign to a console linked to their dwelling phone, which in flip mechanically dials a central monitoring station.

Once the connection is made, an operator can assess the state of affairs, probably by talking to the individual via 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 may in any other case should reside in nursing properties or who felt weak after being discharged rapidly from a hospital.

“Even if they didn’t use this,” Mr. Dibner advised The New York Times in 1984, “people will have the psychological assurance that they’re not alone.”

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

Andrew Sherman Dibner was born on May 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 Army throughout World War II, Mr. Dibner enrolled at Brooklyn College. He didn’t do effectively in engineering programs and, guided by an inherent ability check, shifted to psychology. After receiving his bachelor’s diploma in 1948, he attended the University of Michigan, the place he earned a grasp’s and a Ph.D. in psychology.

ImageCreditJean Proulx Dibner

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

The concept for Lifeline got here to Mr. Dibner whereas he was on a analysis fellowship on the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development in Durham, N.C. The firm took form within the Dibners’ front room in Newton Centre, Mass., outdoors Boston, and in an workplace over a dry cleaner’s in close by Watertown.

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

“They liked the idea,” Mr. Dibner advised The Wisconsin State Journal in 1983. “They didn’t trust 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 properties and well being care companies, which might purchase monitoring stations and cost charges to people who wished the service. The enterprise mannequin was finally augmented to incorporate promoting on to customers.

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

Active within the college union, he was considered one of 5 professors who in 1979 urged their college students to not cross the picket traces of putting employees members and librarians. The professors have been fired by John R. Silber, the college’s president, however reinstated after protesting college 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 firm, now referred to as Philips Lifeline, primarily based in Framingham, Mass., says it’s the main medical-alert service within the United States.

Mr. Dibner’s invention has advanced since his retirement to incorporate trendy twists like connections to cellphones and a know-how that may detect falls and ship emergency assist even when the individual can not push the transmitter.

In addition to 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, resulted in divorce. Ms. Schmidt Dibner, his second spouse and companion 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 good friend in her 70s, who lived alone, had a stroke and was not discovered for 3 days, additional compromising her well being.

“She died within six months in a nursing home,” he advised The Times. “Maybe that was on my mind.”



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