Digital health solutions have helped to democratize access for underserved individuals and communities. With both increasing maturity and adoption across generations, the ability for these technologies to address the challenges faced by older adults and aging populations continues to be an area of interest. Examples of this interest include TechStars’ recent launch of its Future of Longevity Accelerator and AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative.
Within the startup ecosystem, numerous new solutions have been launched specifically targeting ‘agetech’ and aging-in-place use cases. Two of these companies, CollabCare, an Australian-based digital health company, and Hucu.ai, a US-based person-centered messaging and collaboration platform recently announced a partnership to leverage the combined power of their respective platforms to bring innovation to this sector.
To learn more about the new partnership, Medgadget caught up with leaders at both organizations: Joe Antony, CEO at CollabCare, and Asif Khan, CEO at Hucu.ai.
Medgadget: Let’s start with a little bit about each company, what are CollabCare and Hucu’s core solutions?
Asif Khan: Hucu.ai has offered truly patient-centered communication since early 2020. Our platform enables disparate providers/organizations to efficiently collaborate together (via messaging) to provide/coordinate better whole-person care across the continuum. A separate Patient/ Family Chat seamlessly connects family members and care providers, securely and in real-time. We also have deep analytics to support team optimization and referral relationships.
Joe Antony: CollabCare has existing advanced solutions in telehealth, wound care and chronic disease management. However, our latest product, FamilyShare, is where we see the strength of this partnership being established. FamilyShare brings families closer together and supports the independent living of seniors by capturing and sharing life’s memories and providing highly personalized media content. The platform is designed from the ground up for use by people who may have reduced cognition or limited experience with technology.
Medgadget: How have your solutions impacted the care delivered to the elderly?
Joe Antony: In Australia, we have seen FamilyShare make a dramatic impact on supporting the important relationship between family members and their loved ones that are either living independently or in nursing homes. Clinical trials show that elders using FamilyShare experience a reduction in social isolation and loneliness, depression and anxiety, and an increase in overall Quality of Life scores. For users with dementia, we also see FamilyShare as a non-medicinal intervention for symptoms of agitation and aggression. Both informal and formal carers also found FamilyShare to be very helpful in reducing their burden of care.
One example of FamilyShare’s impact on the aging population is an anecdote about one of our first users, Doris. Over the previous six years, Doris had progressed from mild to medium cognitive impairment (dementia) and had moved from home to become a long-term resident in a nursing home. She had progressively become non-communicative, disoriented, and occasionally aggressive. Her daughter and grandson used to visit regularly but, as Doris’ symptoms worsened, their interaction became non-functional. Our care staff worked with the family and discovered that Doris was a loyal Richmond Football Club fan (that’s Australian ’rules’ football, not soccer). As part of FamilyShare’s remembrance therapy features, we populated Doris’ FamilyShare profile with some old Richmond championship matches and pictures of her attending the games together with her family in the 1980s. When played back through FamilyShare, for the first time in over a year, the remembrance therapy stimulation provided by FamilyShare triggered a real connection between Doris and her family (she even started to bop to the Richmond theme song). For Doris’ daughter and grandson, this was a priceless improvement in their interaction with their beloved mother and grandmother.
For the nursing staff and care assistants, the discovery of a happy, relaxed and communicative Doris was a very surprising revelation. Better still, it was one that could be easily triggered, as appropriate, multiple times a day using the same FamilyShare settings.
FamilyShare is not just for residents of nursing homes, it’s easily incorporated into the daily routine for at-home locations where family members have taken on the considerable responsibility and hard work involved in being the personal carer of their loved one(s).
Asif Khan: Hucu.ai has improved communication for more than 300 communities and more than 15,000 patients. For family members in home health and skilled nursing, we are making real-time communication super easy. We are so excited by the feedback we get from our customers about the lives they are saving through better communication. Another example is a Direct Primary Care doctor who has her team monitor patient family chats. An issue came up recently where a patient had an allergic reaction. They were able to share a quick picture and the doctor was able to prescribe a cream that solved the problem in minutes, avoided a clinic visit and further built the doctor-patient relationship. That’s how healthcare can work with the right technology!
Home Health providers are more responsive as well as more proactive in assuring the people in their care are happy, independent, and well. They share updates and photos with geographically distant family members so everyone has peace of mind and is supportive.
Medgadget: How do the two companies see each other complimenting their respective offerings?
Joe Antony: The synergy between FamilyShare and Hucu struck us as being immediately obvious. Beyond the natural overlap in customer segments in our respective geographies, the ability to extend FamilyShare’s objective of connecting elders (often living in nursing homes and at home) to their families by integrating Hucu’s purpose-built chat messaging service was obvious. This extends the use case for facilities to keep in touch with family members and communicate important medical and non-medical information such as changes to care, health status, events, and lifestyle updates in the lives of their loved ones – something that our customers have already been asking for.
Asif Khan: The solution set that CollabCare has is complementary to Hucu’s best-in-class person-centered communication. We are excited about offering more powerful capabilities by joining forces. Plus we can amplify the message that person-centered communication improves family satisfaction and patient outcomes.
Medgadget: Who (individuals or organizations) would best benefit from the combined Collabcare and Hucu solution? Who are your ideal target customers and users?
Joe Antony: For our US strategy, we are initially focusing on nursing homes, independent living and home care services in a B2B model – this is a space where Hucu also has an already strong footprint. Our broader reach extends to any intergenerational family that wishes to keep their family legacy alive and secure family communication in a digital space.
Asif Khan: Hucu is an incredibly flexible solution to a myriad of communication problems for anyone who wants to have easy real-time communication, organized across team members benefits. Our most impactful customers are providing home health, hospice, skilled nursing, and physician groups providing care with a value-based care mindset.
Medgadget: What are the benefits and challenges of global collaborations such as that between CollabCare and Hucu?
Joe Antony: Global collaborations in health have historically been quite limited due to differences in health care systems, regulations and standards and cultural aspects of how care is viewed. However, the challenges of an aging population, the need for services in this sector and the advancement of cloud technologies mean that this is a specific space where cross-border innovation can be successful. The issues we are addressing are immense and it takes the best and brightest from around the world to tackle them – the CollabCare-Hucu partnership represents what can be achieved when best-in-class ideas and solutions are partnered from around the world.
Asif Khan: Our teams are seeking the best solutions in the world. Time and distance are easily bridged when we share common values and goals. Asynchronous communication works great when supported by Hucu and we’re also able to get up early/stay up late for zoom calls. The main benefits are being able to offer our solution globally to an even broader group of clients and demonstrating the transferability to any consumers and health providers.