Over the past year I have met many entrepreneurs who are or have created an app designed to help families better coordinate the care of loved ones. These apps all have similar features:
- A Facebook-like interface that allows multiple family members to post medical/care updates and add comments
- A calendar feature for important appointments and for coordinating care coverage by family members
- An iMessage/Whatsapp-like messaging tool to communicate one-on-one with members of the family
Caring for a loved one and trying to coordinate family members is a daunting task so I applaud all of these efforts to make it easier.
However, I must admit that I come away after meeting these enthusiastic entrepreneurs a little disappointed. Their apps, while impressive, are stand-alone and are isolated from the rest of the healthcare ecosystem. For example, manual entry is often the only way to incorporate medical information from a provider and any communication with a healthcare organization needs to be rekeyed into the app.
Because of this, I was very excited when I ran into Michael Eidsaune, Founder and CEO of Carely at a recent conference. His company is taking a unique approach – instead of just focusing on family caregivers, his company is trying to bring caregivers and healthcare providers closer together so that BOTH benefit.
Below is a summary of our conversation.
What makes Carely different than other family caregiving apps?
With Carely, we didn’t stop at just trying to make things easier for families to care for a loved one. What we want to do is recruit families to be an active part of the care team alongside the healthcare provider. We don’t want families to be passive observers waiting for the next bit of news or have to log into those terrible “family portals” that don’t really give you any useful information or allow you to communicate effectively with the healthcare organization. We all hate using portals, it’s so one-sided.
For us it’s ultimately about getting the best care for your loved one not just about making things easy. In order to do this you need to get providers involved and not just families.
So why would a healthcare provider adopt Carely? What’s in it for them?
The provider-side of Carely is something we call Carely Community. This is something we built specifically for healthcare providers. It allows them to interact with families of the loved ones they are caring for. They can share information like when appointments are, what activities their loved one has been involved in and get feedback on those things from family members.
Long-Term and Post-Acute Care providers in particular have found that listening to family feedback can help them deliver better care. Through Carely they can get messages like “Mom seemed to have a little less appetite than usual today” or “Uncle Joe seemed a bit more confused than normal and had trouble getting to the toilet”. When the provider sees these messages in combination with the medical record, they can quickly make a determination as to whether this was something expected or something they need to look into. Having observations from family members over a period of time, helps to paint a better picture for everyone. A better picture equals better care.
The reverse is also true. If the provider can share updates with families, they can help reduce the number of phone calls they get. Imagine how relieved you would feel if the long-term care facility let you know that “Aunt Mary took part in the garden walk today” or “Dad ate everything at dinner tonight”. Those simple updates can help take worries away.
Is that what families get out of Carely? Less worry?
Carely Family is the app side of our business. That’s where all the tools are for families to coordinate and track their loved one’s care. Here you can see upcoming appointments, who will be visiting, etc. But the real power comes when the healthcare provider gets added to family’s care circle. Now the entire family can get updates on what’s happening and they can make better decisions together.
Take for example, Home Care. Typically Home Care is needed as a result of an unexpected event – maybe a fall or a minor accident. Arranging for Home Care puts a lot of stress on families and they all have to come together to make decisions. Without coordination there would be a lot of phone calls and texts flying around. If it were me I wouldn’t want to be getting 5 phone calls a day from people asking me how I was doing. So by bringing everyone together onto a single platform, including the Home Care provider, now all the information is up-to-date and the family can make the best decision possible.
Let’s talk about integration for a moment. Have you integrated with any EHR or other healthcare system?
We are currently working with PointClickCare. They have an API interface that will allow us to pull updates from their system and feed it through Community and onto Family. This makes everything seamless for the healthcare organization – they just continue to use PointClickCare and families get updated behind the scenes. Down the road we will look at how we can push information or notifications into PointClickCare. As well, we plan to begin integrating with the many other systems that exist in healthcare today.
What’s next for Carely?
I wish we could still be operating in stealth mode, but we’ve had such great feedback and interest in our product that we’re operating out in the open now.
We are continuing to iterate our product based on feedback from families and healthcare providers. We’re really making an effort to incorporate their requests. People want to use tools that they love to use. No one wants to use a tool that makes their life harder or that’s confusing. That’s why we’re spending so much time iterating our product. On one side it’s got to fit into the daily lives of families and on the other it’s got to fit into the workflow of the healthcare provider.
At the end of the day, our mission and vision is to drastically improve the caregiver experience and it’s our core belief that in order to do that we have to create an industry-wide solution, eliminate silos, get rid of useless “family portals”, and continue to innovate. This NEEDS to be done and I’m confident we’ll be the ones to successfully do it.