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Institute Invests in Elderly Care Start-Up

Kathleen Unroe

Kathleen Unroe (Regenstrief Institute)

20 Nov. 2019. Regenstrief Institute, affiliated with Indiana University, is investing in a new company aiming to improve long-term care for older individuals. The institute, based in Indianapolis and conducting research on the role of information in medical care, is taking an undisclosed investment stake in Care Revolution, a start-up enterprise in Zionsville, Indiana.

Care Revolution is developing a new model of health care for older people living in long-term care facilities. Many of these nursing homes, says the company, are tasked with caring for the sickest individuals, while often facing staff shortages and reimbursement limits from Medicare and other payers. Care Revolution believes a new model is needed for serving this population that enhances the quality of care to residents, improves systems in the facilities, and reduces the need for hospitalizations, which sharply drive up costs.

That model is based on results of a five-year demonstration project at 19 long-term care facilities by researchers at Indiana University. That project, called Optimistic — short for Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality, and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care — embeds nurses trained in specialized care at long-term care facilities. These highly trained nurses provide specialized and personalized care to residents, but also train other staff in evidence-based techniques to cement these practices into the work of the facilities.

An evaluation shows the Optimistic model can make sizeable reductions in spending on Medicare-supported hospitalizations, estimated at $14.3 billion in 2011, before the demonstration project. These hospitalizations are for diseases such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, congestive heart failure, dehydration, skin ulcers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. The assessment shows the model can reduce the risk of potentially avoidable hospitalizations by one-third (33%), resulting in a 25 percent reduction in avoidable hospitalizations, a savings of $1,589 per nursing home resident, and a net savings of $3.4 billion in Medicare expenditures.

The Optimistic demonstration was led by Indiana University medical school professors Kathleen Unroe and Greg Sachs. Unroe is also Regenstrief research scientist. In 2018, Unroe founded Care Revolution to package and commercialize the project’s findings, forming the company with help from the university’s entrepreneurial support organization and a $150,000 seed investment from the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund in August 2018.

“Care Revolution will bring a player-coach to the arena of skilled nursing, someone who’s directing activity and getting directly involved in delivering care,” says Todd Saxton, vice-president of Regenstrief in an institute statement. “This investment will facilitate innovation in health care, an area that is at the heart of Regenstrief’s mission.” Unroe adds, “Regenstrief’s investment in Care Revolution will empower our company to expand our reach and improve the care provided to older adults in areas far beyond central Indiana.”

Regenstrief is also collaborating with Care Revolution on a companion app for nurses at long-term care facilities. The iOS app for Apple iPads is expected to help improve the workflow of these key staff and improve decision making.

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