Addressing the root cause of caregiver burnout before it happens is becoming an imperative as health systems struggle with growing numbers of older people under management.
The rapid growth in AgeTech start-ups has seen many companies focus on technologies designed to help improve the health and wellness of the aging population. But what about the carers themselves? In the United States alone, more than 34 million people are providing unpaid home care to an adult aged 50 or older.  But providing care is challenging, and carers run the risk of negatively impacting on their own health as a result.
The people behind St. Louis-based NIH and VC-funded start-up TCARE have spent decades researching this subject and found it’s not the hours spent caregiving, but the emotional toll of caregiving that leads to carer burnout. The company has developed a cloud-based system to help care professionals engage and intervene before a family caregiver reaches the point of burnout.
We connected with TCARE’s co-founder and CEO, Ali Ahmadi, after his pitch to investors at the Washington Longevity Summit.
Longevity.Technology: How did TCARE get started?
Ali Ahmadi: My wife and I were on the verge of divorce due to the challenges that caregiving was having on our marriage, when we were introduced to research at the University of Wisconsin that had developed an evidence-based protocol to help families. After personally receiving the benefits of this scientific approach, I made the decision to productize the protocol and leverage technology to get it in the hands of millions of families that go through challenges when they become caregivers to an elder loved one. And so TCARE was born.
One in five Americans are currently providing care to a loved one in their home. TCARE supports family caregivers in keeping their loved ones at home longer by zeroing in on their cause of stress and burnout and then targets appropriate services that improve those areas and support the caregiver in their role. For programs using TCARE, the automatic data collection allows them to use the information to seek additional funding, allocate resources, improve risk management and identify those caregivers in greatest need.
Longevity.Technology: What is unique about the TCARE system?
Ali Ahmadi: TCARE is the only evidence-based, CMS-approved and federally-accredited Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP). We are the only enterprise-facing (not consumer-facing) solution used by care professionals that has been scientifically-validated and has served over 100,000 family caregivers. TCARE is not another mobile app, our cloud-based enterprise software is used by social workers, case managers and other professionals – the family caregiver never interacts with our software.
The software works by helping caseworkers identify the root causes of stress that could trigger a crisis and lead to family caregiver burnout and connects caregivers with area support resources. Health care workers use the evidence-based technology solution to gauge the stressfulness of the home care situation and conduct assessments every three to six months to provide precision-targeted resources at the right time and place.
Longevity.Technology: Where does the business stand today?
Ali Ahmadi: TCARE is currently used by more than 250 organizations serving more than 100,000 family caregivers. We currently target three main customer segments, including state and area agencies on aging, Medicaid Managed-Long-Term-Support-Services (MLTSS) insurance plans, and life and long term care insurance carriers. Notable clients include Washington State Dept. of Health, Cigna, Anthem, BlueCross BlueShield of Mass., Florida Blue, EmblemHealth, Thrivent Financial, Alaska Dept. of Health, and EasterSeals Colorado.
Longevity.Technology: What are the main business challenges you face?
Ali Ahmadi: Currently, the health insurance industry (Medicaid & Medicare) does not recognize the role that family caregivers bring to the health of a patient/member. The industry is slowly picking up on this phenomenon and recognizing the importance of family caregiver support. However, CMS is still slow to follow and allow a policy to support family caregivers. We are hopeful about the work that the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council is doing to bring together live-changing policies for the future of our healthcare system.
Longevity.Technology: What is your current funding situation?
Ali Ahmadi: Our initial funding was through a $4.4M Grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since then, TCARE is venture-backed by notable firms including RGAX, BlueCross BlueShield of MN, gener8tor, Village Capital and Right Side Capital. We anticipate launching a Series A round sometime in Q3 2020.
Image credit: Monica Garza 73 / Shutterstock
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