Scouting Report-Caremerge:Improving Collaboration & Care in Sr Living w/Clinical Engagement Software
One of the many things demonstrated by the COVID pandemic was the need for improved care coordination, record keeping, and collaboration in the care of seniors. In addition, since caregivers and families were unable to visit patients due to the pandemic, seniors became socially isolated, taking a toll on their physical and emotional health. As a result of the devastating impact of COVID in senior care facilities, many have looked to examine their entire systems and models of care, looking to leverage technology to improve care and solve for workforce shortages post-pandemic.
Lack of communication between families and clinicians/senior care personnel often creates unwarranted friction and mistrust early on in the relationship.
Interoperability in data sharing is key for healthcare, however, poor charting and high employee turnover rates are major obstacles in care delivery and diagnostics for seniors.
A comprehensive EHR can seamlessly integrate quality and personalized care, facilitate care transparency, maintain compliance with regulations and reduce medical errors.
Incoming senior residents are going to be more familiar with technology and there is an opportunity to invest in a technologically-capable approach when providing care for senior residents.
Caremerge was founded in 2015 by Fahad Ahiz, who was originally seeking to create a “Facebook for seniors” but soon realized there was a broader need for communication and collaboration that included connecting senior care facilities and families/caregivers. Azix, now the company’s chief technology officer, soon realized there was a large, untapped market in leveraging technology to strengthen care coordination to improve the quality of life for senior residents and their families. Caremerge realized early on that applying technology could not only help free up caregiver’s time but also fosters patient satisfaction and by boosting communication of providers with patients and families. To date, the company has raised over $25M, most recently completing a Series D financing in July of 2019 raising an additional $5.2M from Echo Ventures, Ziegler and other undisclosed investors according to PitchBook.
Early on Caremerge realized they could leverage technology not just to improve communication and collaboration but to help improve care and reduce costs. By continuing to seek ways to apply digital tools to senior care, Caremerge has reported positive health outcomes and a decline in healthcare costs. Breaking down the overall communication scheme into three main parts has essentially allowed for a multi-faceted care coordination approach. Starting with pre-admission profile building, moving to involving the family and managing expectations and finally, synchronizing wellness and clinical efforts, the overarching care coordination system allows for innovative ways to monitor and improve the patient’s health. For example, Aziz noted that the company realized they could leverage artificial intelligence technology not only to improve communication but to analyze a patient’s condition. By “anticipating” such things as falls they could then apply AI to help avoid them. In addition, in senior care facilities recording keeping is still paper based, manual and difficult to share. In addition, Aziz noted that senior facilities often have high turnover rates and patients often have interactions with providers, outside facilities like hospitals, and physician groups. Consequently, Caremerge had looked to deploy EMR technology within senior care facilities to allow for more robust communication. An article in Electronic Health Reporter noted, “a centralized and digitized record of contacts invites everyone to the conversation about a resident’s health”, improving care and patient/family satisfaction. Their forward thinking has allowed for creative solutions like “Caremerge Voice”(with Amazon’s Alexa) and “Calendar Central”. These solutions improve overall communication and programming events between departments, patients and their families, and the care teams.
The Big Picture:
As demonstrated by the COVID pandemic, families and caregivers of residents in senior care facilities are an important component of the care team, often helping to advocate for patients and relieve stress on overburdened staff. In addition, social isolation is proven to have a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of residents. Maintaining ties for seniors can be crucial for improving their care and well being. Tools like Caremerge, which help keep families and caregivers involved and informed, can simultaneously improve quality and lower costs for providers. In addition, Caremerge demonstrates how technology such as AI can be used to enhance care and allow for more human-based care delivery when providers are not tasked with mundane administrative duties. Caremerge helps healthcare providers improve accuracy in data collecting, develop a better longitudinal care record and ensure better care delivery and diagnostics. However, current EHR and electronic Medication Administration Record technology (which automatically documents the administration of medication into certified EHRs) are lacking. The industry also suffers from poor handoffs of patients between facilities and providers, improper data recording (due to variations in training), and incomplete health records which can often lead to or contribute to poor health outcomes. Integrating families into the patient’s care plan, improved documentation and enhanced interoperability through Caremerge can enhance a patient's health outcomes and wellbeing.