If you’re hoping to provide home care for a sick or elderly family member, startup CareZapp is building a technology platform to help.
The company just announced its public beta on-stage as part of the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Europe. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Macfarlane told me that his interest in the field began with his mother’s death from cancer more than two decades ago, and the “challenges and difficulties” that he faced in providing for her care. Understandably, he didn’t go into too many details, but he did suggest that not much about the industry has changed since then.
At the same time, Macfarlane argued that as the population ages, insurance companies in the United States and state healthcare organizations in Europe are, by necessity, going to be pushing for more home healthcare.
“With digital health, the Internet of Things, and civil society, there’s a new opportunity for us to deliver a better way of caring for people at home,” he said.
CareZapp builds on the work that Macfarlane did as part of the Louth Living Lab, an “age friendly initiative” that tests ways in which smart home technologies might be used to help the elderly. Macfarlane said there are “three things you need in order to be able to be able to care for somebody well — community, environment, and technology.”
Correspondingly, there are three main components to the CareZapp platform. First, there’s a private social network where caregivers and professionals can communicate and collaborate. Macfarlane said CareZapp allows people to create their own groups for private discussion, and allows different groups to communicate with each other. So a family could create a group to coordinate care for an elderly relative, and they could also share messages with their local physician.
The second piece is a framework for applications that can assist with home care. For example, Macfarlane said that if a family member is suffering from dementia, one application might tap into motion detectors in the home to alert you if something potentially dangerous happens.
To be clear, CareZapp isn’t trying to manufacture these smart home devices itself, nor does it expect a bunch of custom apps to be built for its platform. Instead, it’s partnering with hardware manufacturers and integrating with existing health tools.
The final piece of the CareZapp platform is a “discovery network” where you can find local service providers.
Altogether, it sounds like a lot of different products trying to serve several different customer groups. To bring CareZapp to market, Macfarlane said he won’t be selling it directly to consumers, but rather partnering with health care and service providers, initially in Ireland and the United States. In fact, the company is announcing a partnership with with Irish homecare company myhomecare.ie.
The basic communication tools will be free — CareZapp will make money by charging for apps, and by charging service providers to be listed in the discovery network.
Macfarlane concluded by saying that by using CareZapp, “You’re empowering your own care networks. We’re facilitating access to a lot of the things that are out there already, but they need to be connected. [We want to answer the question,] ‘How do we connect that village that will care for Mom and Dad?’”
Q&A With Battlefield Judges (quotes are paraphrased)
Q: Are you assuming the wide adoption of many different sensors?
A: We use a wide range of technology and devices. For example we already integrate with existing intruder alarm systems.
Q: Are you saving people money?
A: There are significant savings compared to other options.
Q: During your pilots, were you able to demonstrate cost savings by engaging the family and friends?
A: In the example of the hospital we worked with, we were able to maintain eight out of 10 participants outside the hospital, which leads to big savings.
Q: How do people here about you?
A: In a few ways — from care and support organizations, and then there’s viral adoption through friends and family members.
Q: How do people feel about giving up this autonomy? And is there a “cried wolf” issue where the alerts might be a little too sensitive
A: It actually gives them piece of mind where they don’t have to worry about family members constantly.