Tcare’s Software Aids People Who Live with, and Care for, Loved Ones

Retiring baby boomers are expected to more than double Medicare and Medicaid costs from 2017 to 2020, according to industry data. That may just be the tip of the iceberg: by 2035, Medicare will account for 8 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office. One major reason forecasters believe healthcare costs will continue to swell is the current wave of people in their 60s and 70s putting a bow on their careers.

In addition to the financial strain the years ahead are likely to put on state and federal healthcare agencies, having to care for an aging parent, spouse, or other family member can put significant emotional strain on people, says Ali Ahmadi. He’s the CEO of Tailored Care, a Madison, WI-based startup that has developed software designed to help support family caregivers as they work to keep their elderly loved ones out of nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities.

Tailored Care, or Tcare for short, has developed digital tools designed to help social workers, nurses, and other users identify whether caregivers are stressed or at risk for burnout—“burnout being defined as, ‘I can’t take care of mom anymore. I’m putting her in a nursing home,’” Ahmadi says.

Tcare, which graduated from the Wisconsin startup accelerator Gener8tor earlier this year, has built a network that comprises 400-plus social workers and other “care managers,” as the company labels its users. Its software is used by social service agencies to support more than 50,000 caregivers across 14 states, Ahmadi says.

Last week, Tcare captured one of the two top spots—and a $75,000 investment from VC firm Village Capital, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente—as a result of the startup’s participation in Health: US 2018, a program focused on developing products and services to address the needs of the country’s aging population.

Many people who live with their elderly parents do things like cook the meals they eat and clean up after them. But the first time a son or daughter has to do something less familiar, such as bathe one’s parent, is when the child might start thinking about putting their loved one in a home, Ahmadi says.

“The key measures are depression, stress, relationship burden, [and] what’s known as identity discrepancy, which is the transition of identity from a son, daughter, or spouse role into a full-time caregiver role,” he says. Some of the data that Tcare’s software analyzes, in order to provide users with insights, comes from interviews they conduct with caregivers (more on that below).

Tcare’s target customers are state-level Medicaid agencies, private insurance companies, and other organizations that reimburse for healthcare services, Ahmadi says.

Social workers use Tcare to document data on caregivers’ stress levels and other factors, Ahmadi says. If the software’s algorithms indicate a caregiver is on the brink of burning out, the system will provide the user with a care plan that includes interventions, along with a list of local resources that might be able to help the caregiver, he says.

Research by Tcare founder Rhonda Montgomery and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee helped generate data that Ahmadi says demonstrate the potential financial benefit of monitoring caregivers’ stress levels and making them feel supported. Montgomery is an emerita professor in the school’s departments of social work and sociology.

Tcare was officially launched as a UW-Milwaukee spinout company in 2014, but the research by Montgomery and her fellow academics began more than a dozen years ago, Ahmadi says. A key step along the way was … Next Page »

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