NIA Small Business Showcase: Generation Connect
An overwhelming majority of people living with dementia want to avoid institutionalization and remain in a familiar living situation in their community. Despite an ever-increasing demand for in-home dementia care, home care companies are often unable to offer their services as a long-term solution for a few key reasons:
- Family care partners often struggle to cope with behavioral symptoms that may accompany dementia, such as aggression, anxiety, and depression, resulting in early burnout for caregivers, the loss of family support capacity, and patients’ premature transitions to institutional health care settings.
- Formal caregivers often lack support to build trusting relationships with clients, which results in worsening behavioral symptoms and drives high caregiver turnover.
- There are few existing policy solutions that could make home care more affordable.
The Care Team Connect (CTC) mobile app improves ability to age in place, allowing home care services to be a long-term dementia care solution by:
- Connecting people with dementia and their family care partners with geriatric specialists and local home care agencies to develop sustainable care plans.
- Providing formal caregivers with access to family-curated photos, music, and videos through a tablet stationed in the home, helping them build trusting relationships with clients.
- Streamlining data collection via clinically validated assessments. Equipped with outcome data, home care companies can collaborate with Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) to offer supplemental benefits that reduce the cost of care.
Home care is one of the fastest growing sectors in the health care industry. The number of companies providing home care services is expected to increase from 37,000 in 2016 to nearly 46,000 by 2021; employment for home health aides, meanwhile, is set to grow 30% from 3.49 million in 2019 to 4.6 million by 2029.
Recent policy changes open the door for providers to partner with MAOs to make home care more affordable. However, most providers lack the ability to justify reimbursements by demonstrating clinical efficacy and cost savings.
Generation Connect’s solution helps home care companies personalize care plans, improve clinical outcomes, and reduce the overall cost of care. While there are other engagement platforms on the market, the company’s focus on dementia, family engagement, and data collection sets its solution apart.
- 2019: Published preliminary research with Jay Ford, Ph.D., and the Ford Research Group, a dedicated team of scientists and research specialists at the University of Wisconsin, to determine how care providers’ use of computer tablets to engage people with dementia could affect patients’ moods and influence caregiver satisfaction.
- 2020: Was awarded a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the NIA in September 2020, receiving $454,916 of nondiluted capital to enhance app functionality and validate the utility of the solution in the marketplace.
- 2021: Is pursuing a Phase 2 SBIR grant with the Ford Research Group and home care partners. This grant provides $2.5 million of nondiluted capital to conduct research and demonstrate commercial viability.
- 2018: Partnered with national home care agency Visiting Angels (560+ locations) to deploy the dementia-focused mobile app solution in 10 select markets in 2018.
- 2018: Developed native mobile applications for iOS and Android devices.
- 2019: Deployed the mobile app solution to 100+ care teams. Case studies demonstrate a reduction in behavioral symptoms, decreased caregiver turnover, and increased client retention. In a pilot study of 15 clients, the average lifetime was in excess of $150,000, compared with the industry average of approximately $20,000. Care teams also reported a significant reduction in formal caregiver turnover related to the care of participating clients after deploying the solution.
- 2020: Recruited two national home care agencies, Home Instead Senior Care (1,100+ locations) and Right at Home, Inc. (500+ locations), to participate in the Phase 1 SBIR grant.
- 2020: Involved home care partners in Phase 2 SBIR research and commercialization planning.
Generation Connect has to date raised approximately $0.5 million in nondilutive capital for Phase 1 through an SBIR grant from NIA.
The company is also seeking a seed round investment in 2021, with $1 million to $3 million in seed round funding expected, in order to accelerate growth in the private-duty home care market, hire software engineers to enhance platform features and data collection capabilities, and develop strategic partnerships with MAOs.
Generation Connect anticipates a Phase 2 SBIR grant of $2.5 million in 2022, for purposes of conducting a clinical research trial that demonstrates improved clinical outcomes and cost savings, partnering with private-duty home care companies and providing funding for hardware startup costs, and partnering with MAOs and aligning outcomes with potential reimbursement rates for home care services.
The Care Team Connect mobile application, including the underlying systems for collecting user data and dynamically surfacing multimedia content to support clinical tasks, is the exclusive property of Generation Connect.
Product Development and Regulatory Strategy
The Generation Connect team has developed a comprehensive tablet deployment strategy for home care providers by bundling hardware, enterprise device management, cellular data connectivity, and end user support; this enables Generation Connect’s home care partner to use tablets while maintaining Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance.
Generation Connect is developing key features and educational resources to encourage informal care partner participation and address barriers to adoption. In addition, the company is currently integrating assessment modules, enabling formal caregivers to track clinical outcomes related to cognition, behavioral symptoms, and caregiver well-being. These assessments have been purposefully selected to reduce the burden of data collection, which is essential to establishing sustainable processes.
Early adopters of the home care industry have demonstrated a willingness to pay for in-home technology solutions that can improve client outcomes and increase lifetime value. There is an opportunity to accelerate adoption by supplementing costs through partnerships with MAOs. Generation Connect can help home care partners streamline data collection efforts and demonstrate outcomes. As a result, the company will be well positioned to collaborate with MAOs to offer supplemental benefits that have been shown to improve clinical outcomes and reduce the cost of care.
Generation Connect website
Industry: Digital Health and Sensing Technologies
- Co-Founder: Paul Velencia, B.S.
- Social Gerontologist: Debby Dodds, M.S.
- Technical Advisor: Thomas Carriero, B.S.
- Research Advisor: Jay Ford, Ph.D.
Point of Contact:
Email Michael Potteiger
Showcase selected for: Longevity Innovations and Neurodegeneration Company Showcase (LINCS), February 2021