Sometimes, a smartphone app is more than you need. Sometimes, it is not enough. Perhaps, the “just right” approach is simple technology like a text message.
That is the underlying principle behind CareWire, which automates appointment reminders and other administrative information so health systems can cut down on no-shows and unprepared patients in hopes of producing more productive encounters, reducing hospital admissions and boosting patient encounters. CareWire is the product of Minneapolis-based Healthy Heartland Inc. (HHI), one of the 10 startups that new health incubator Healthbox is supporting.
Each company gets $50,000 in seed funding and is participating in a three-month program in which they are given office space in Healthbox’s temporary Chicago headquarters, plus access to a team of mentors. At the end of the three months, companies will make pitches to venture capitalists in hopes of scoring larger investments.
Healthbox announced its first class of startups in December began the mentoring program in early January. The incubator held a kickoff event and open house in Chicago last week.
“The genesis of CareWire is that there is a variety of ways currently to listen for patient satisfaction and patient dissatisfaction,” Chief Operating Officer and co-founder David Nichols told MobiHealthNews in an interview during the open house. Those ways could include surveys, social media scanning or “ethnographic” interviews, according to Nichols.
“But we were thinking, what would be the least-cost, most widely available medium for engaging with patients and actually getting more or less a blink response from them as to their level of engagement, level of satisfaction, and so on?”
“SMS is nice in that there is no app to download and install. There’s no specific password or security routine you have to go through,” Nichols explained. Plus, most mobile phones made in the last 10 years are capable of handling SMS.
“At least currently, it’s one of the most immediate messaging mediums out there. It has the brevity and directness of Twitter but it has the impact of instant messaging,” said Nichols, who met business partner and CareWire CEO Scott Danielson when both worked at UnitedHealth Group.
At United, Nichols led the development of a business called UnitedHealth at Home, which provides short-term, post-discharge insurance for in-home care. Danielson later moved to AARP, where he helped launch AARPHealth, a health engagement portal for the organization and its members.
They founded Healthy Heartland in late 2009, and started working on CareWire in early 2011, developing the business model and getting feedback from providers, two of which became the company’s pilot sites. CareWire now is testing its technology at Park Nicollet Clinics in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and at Mercy Clinics in Des Moines, Iowa.
According to Nichols, the participating clinics have mobile numbers for 85 percent of their patients. One organization asks patients to opt in, while the other will include patients unless they opt out.
With Medicare cutting off reimbursements for some preventable hospital readmissions and with the advent of Accountable Care Organizations and bundled payments, health systems are finding less incentive to fill their beds and are more motivated to manage cases in primary care. Keep reading>>