According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are more than 65 million unpaid caregivers in the United States -- friends or family members who take care of a loved one. And even more people than that are caring for their children and their pets. Rajiv Mehta (founder of Zume Life and Tonic) is about to launch a new app for those caregivers called Unfrazzle.
Mehta and partner David Bunnell have self-funded and developed the app, which will launch soon on the iOS AppStore and will follow shortly thereafter for Android devices.
"We focus on everyday caregiving," Mehta told MobiHealthNews. "The goal is to make today easier. The fact that it has a benefit for health and wellness is kind of icing on the cake."
The app allows family members to create tasks and journals for themselves to track medication, daily activities, or habits like sleep or coffee. Each family member creates a profile and they can give each other either editing or viewing access. So a woman on Unfrazzle might be connected to her husband, her aging mother, her personal trainer, and her dog. She can assign herself to make sure her mother takes her medication, assign her husband to walk the dog, and share her workout data with her trainer. Unfrazzle is set up to be highly customizable, no matter what sort of task a user needs to keep track of.
Unlike other apps which have different interfaces for caregivers and patients, Unfrazzle operates from the assumption that everyone can help care sometimes and need to be looked after at other times.
"That really is the real world," said Mehta. "Even when you're helping a friend deal with chemotherapy, you're still dealing with your own issues, never mind remembering the cat's flea medicine."
For pets, babies, and people who are mentally unable to use the interface themselves, the app lets a caregiver create a placeholder account in the system, so Unfrazzle can still help coordinate their care.
"I created an account for my dog Charlie," said Bunnell. "I have a list of all the basic tasks related to taking care of Charlie, a walk in the morning, change the water, food, how much food. But I only send notice to myself for the ones I need help remembering, like once a month giving him his heart guard. The theory is, when I leave town, and I have someone else taking care of Charlie, I can assign all of these tasks to that person and they will get the alerts, and I can look at it from afar and see if the tasks have been done or not."
Unfrazzle is not too different in scope from Mehta's previous two ventures, Zume Life and Tonic. Zume Life was a dedicated hardware device to remind people about personal health responsibilities and Tonic was an app with the same purpose. What Unfrazzle adds is the family network aspect, which Mehta believes is an essential part of how people manage their health.
"It's really an evolution," Mehta said. "There have been some discussions where I've talked about Unfrazzle as the Model T -- Henry Ford started out with the Model A, but with the Model T he finally got it to the point where it was really useful. This is the minimal function set we need for caregivers."
The app will be free to begin with, though Mehta and Bunnell said they will introduce a paid premium version at some point. Check out a video demo of the app below.