8th September 2014: Startup of the week: CareSync

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Amy Gleason, COO of US startup, CareSync.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with CareSync]


1. What is CareSync?
CareSync™ helps people manage their health. The CareSync web and mobile application gives the and their caregivers tools to manage health information for themselves and their family. CareSync provides an easy to share medical timeline so that the entire care team is on the same page, as well as the ability to track medication usage, health-related tasks, and even and even self-tracking tools. The app itself is free, and the patient always owns the data. We also have an optional world-class service, CareSync Plus, that removes a lot of burdens from the patient by gathering the patient’s medical records and summarizing them into a useful, searchable, and shareable health profile.

2. Could you explain the essence of CareSync, i.e it's core values?
Our mission is to connect people and data to redefine the role of the patient and create a better healthcare experience for everyone. We believe that all patients should have access to their health information in a way that is meaningful and shareable so that they can collaborate with anyone they choose. We also believe that most of healthcare happens outside of traditional healthcare settings, and that much of the story is missing today by not including the patient’s own story and goals. We also believe that easy collaboration and convenience to the patient will greatly improve healthcare.

3. What's the business model you're operating under? 
CareSync has a free application as a do it yourself model. This allows anyone to store their health profile, enter any relevant past events, plan for and manage visits, track medication usage and import or enter measurements such as glucose, pain level, or blood pressure. 
CareSync Plus is a service that is offered as either a one-time Health History package or as a monthly or annual subscription. This service is sold in two markets – direct to consumer and to the enterprises such as hospitals, physician groups, payers, and employers. In the enterprise model, the patient can determine how much information they want to share with the enterprise. In the direct to consumer model, the member can decide which family members and doctors to share with.

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
There are obviously patient portals and many mobile apps out there. CareSync is unique in that we combine mobile and web health tools with a human service to help patients have an easier and more productive experience. Personal Health Records (PHRs) have been around for a long time, but adoption has been very slow because patients either don’t want to take time to enter all of their information or they don’t remember their information. Patient Portals offered by physicians and hospitals offer some of what we do, but they tend to offer small pieces of information and provide their silo of the data. There is one new company we have heard about that is copying part of what we do, but we don’t know of another company that offers the app and services that we offer today.

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on CareSync?
Our team previously built Electronic Medical Record software for physicians and hospitals. In 2010, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Even with a nursing background and many years of developing and implementing EHRs, I couldn't keep her doctors in sync with each other and the changes happening in her treatment plan, and I was overwhelmed. I tried the different products out there, but I quickly got behind because it was a lot of work. We knew that there had to be a way to make life easier for patients and the people who care for them and to provide doctors with the right information they need to really understand the patient and her struggles. We also know that there are often family caregivers who want to help but don’t have many tools to help them. CareSync was designed to help.

6. What have reactions to CareSync been? Do different people perceive it differently?
Our users have raved about the product and service, and we have had some fantastic results. 

•    64% of our members have avoided a duplicate test because they had the results to give to the doctor. 
•    33% of our members found a significant medical error in their chart and over half found some kind of error. 
•    84% of our members said that CareSync helped them remember their care plan after the appointment.
•    98% of CareSync booked appointments are kept. It has been great to get so many emails and stories from our members who share success stories in healthcare.

Enterprises say that they have never had the full picture of a patient’s health before, and they are thrilled to work with the patient and to get them more engaged.
Today, CareSync is typically adopted today by those who know they need It such as chronic disease patients, rare disease patients, and elderly patients who have caregivers watching out for them. We haven’t seen a big adoption by the healthier crowd yet, but we expected that. The consumer revolution in healthcare is just beginning. As more of the cost of medicine shifts to the patient and as consumers begin to demand more from the health system, we believe this will shift over time.

7. Given that Silicon Valley is the world's innovation hub, it's inspiring to see CareSync coming from another part of the USA. Do you see more ground breaking innovations in Digital Health coming from outside Silicon Valley?
There are actually a lot of startups that come from outside of Silicon Valley. You do have to work harder to be known and to get investors, but we believe many great innovations in healthcare happen in other places as well. We have met several of them at conferences.

8.    What are the weaknesses of CareSync and what are you doing to address them?
We believe that any health tool that gets mass adoption will be very, very simple. We struggle with this line every day to provide the complexity of healthcare in a user interface that makes it feel simple. We also find that consumers are not used to taking control of their health, so we believe we are responsible for teaching people how to be an engaged patient. This requires making the process very simple while also providing help along the way. We work hard on this and will continue to improve it over time.
We are just now getting to a lot of the personal data that we want such as pain trackers, journal entries with emotions, vitals, and labs. This area will continue to grow and meet this unmet need. 

9. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for CareSync look like? What are the barriers to success?
Success will look like having many more positive outcomes like the ones we have already had. We hope to help patients learn more about their diseases and their own personal health journey and help them have a better and more effective healthcare experience. Success will be handling the growth and continuing to provide amazing service to our members.

10.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
Healthcare has a lot of challenges, but technology can really improve the experience and outcomes. If you have passion and are willing to work harder than you ever have, go for it and do your part to improve the healthcare of the world. Always think of how your solution helps patients as they are the center of the healthcare system.

Amy Gleason and CareSync are on Twitter and click here for the CareSync website.