Startups, Health IT

Cariloop’s shift to caregiving support as an employee benefit

Michael Walsh, Cariloop cofounder and CEO, explained in a phone interview that it made the shift to the employee benefits market after an analysis of how people were communicating with the company and using its website.

The health tech companies providing services to make life easier for family caregivers has been an area of interest for years but Cariloop is one business that has shifted its business model. Once aimed at providers, the company shifted its model a couple of years ago to target employers as they search for ways to reduce disruption and improve productivity for their workforce.

Although family caregivers who provide substantial assistance with healthcare experience significant emotional difficulty and role-related effects, only one-quarter use supportive services, according to a study published last year in the JAMA. So it becomes a wellness issue for employers.

One challenge companies like Cariloop face, is that many people who look after their parents when they become infirm don’t identify themselves as caregivers because they don’t regard themselves in that way. Maybe it’s that so many people take the view that looking after family members is a responsibility that comes with being part of a family, not as a particular role they take on.

Another is that the needs are greater than simply helping someone find suitable assisted living facilities for a loved one, as Cariloop found.

Michael Walsh, Cariloop cofounder and CEO, explained in a phone interview that one reason it made the shift to employers was when they took a step back and saw how people were using its website. Most of the activity on the website was from 10 am to 2 pm on weekdays. It also found that users preferred to call. That’s when Walsh and his cofounders realized that this could be a win for employers.

“We recognized that we needed to be in the employer benefits space,” Walsh said. “So we completely transformed the user experience for Cariloop.”

The company set up a message and storage service within its website not unlike Slack or BaseCamp where family members can store documents for loved ones such as medication lists, insurance cards and paperwork. Family members can also use it to communicate with each other and touch base with a health coach. These coaches are trained as social workers and help family caregivers address needs such as transportation, food delivery and queries for other tasks.

Its “Caregiver Support Platform” went live in July 2015. Texas municipality the City of Richardson, which has about 1,000 employees, was the first customer folowing the pivot.

To date, Cariloop has raised $1.8 million, most of it from angel investors and family offices. The Dallas based company also took part in the Health Wildcatters accelerator.

Cariloop is averaging one new corporate account per month, Walsh said. Its employer customers tend to be those who regard themselves as family-focused businesses.

“You are seeing more employers taking on risk themselves and adopting long-term risk management strategies,” said Walsh. “Many see the need to adopt our service as part of a health and wellbeing strategy.”

As more and more employers talk about wellness in different ways, Walsh believes that caregiving support is becoming more integrated into employee assistance platforms.

Photo: Getty Images