Many years ago when I was a Purdue student, I worked part-time at a local retirement and long-term care facility in West Lafayette. It was the “cream of the crop” in terms of quality of care and resident experience, but even then, I could see the constant demand by family members for information on loved ones and how this challenged staff. That said, staff also had information needs not always easy or immediate to satisfy. I first met Doug Wilcox, CEO of Safekeeping, at a VisionTech Angels Screening Committee meeting a few years back. Although we liked the business model, it was very early stage, so we passed. Time passed and when Doug pitched the committee a second time we said yes because of Safekeeping’s impressive traction and market trends that could accelerate adoption. We invited Safekeeping to present during our August Pitch Week. Here’s a sneak preview. I hope you’ll join us to hear Doug and participate in the discussion on this investment opportunity.
BP: There’s a good personal story behind the founding of Safekeeping. Do you mind sharing it?
DW: Not at all. It’s kind of a two parter. My co-founder, Matt Prasek, started the company while a senior at Ball State University. His grandfather had a skiing accident that left him incapacitated and in nursing facilities for the rest of his life. Matt felt like he was constantly badgering his grandfather’s caregivers for updates so for his senior class project, he came up with a communications tool, which was named Best New Venture at Ball State. The second part is my own experience with my mother who spent the last 18 months of her life in a long-term care facility. I would have to drive two hours just to get questions answered about her care and condition. The facility gave me a flier on Safekeeping and intrigued, I reached out to Matt and joined him in 2017. At the time, Safekeeping had one customer, the facility where my mother lived.
BP: What pain points do you address with Safekeeping and the How’s Mom platform and app?
DW: America is aging out. Seventy percent of the population age 65 and over will require long-term care at some point in their lives. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. This is a huge population. And all of them have families who want to know how mom or dad is doing in long-term care. Complicating matters is the fact that many adult children do not live in the same city or town as mom and dad, which makes it harder to get information on their loved one.
Another pain point is at the caregiver level. The workforce is under incredible stress. Turnover is huge. Workloads are heavy. There simply is no time to respond to all the requests they get for information, the need to share information, and also, to gather critical information such as consents. The long-term care industry, users and providers, needs a digital solution that improves communication, quality of care and relieves a huge burden from caregivers and administrators.
BP: What is your value proposition?
DW: Safekeeping’s How’s Mom platform is an automated, self-service family connection integrated with a long-term care or senior care center’s electronic health record (EHR) system. At the core of the solution is the How’s Mom Connections Hub that allows a facility to easily manage all family interactions such as share details on their clinical charts, document compliance with CMS communications rules within the EHR, communicate with families via text, email and the How’s Mom app, and automatically synch family contacts.Families have real-time, on-demand access to information they want and need about their loved one. They can schedule visits and receive notifications through the app. Patients also benefit from our platform.
BP: Where are you in the commercialization process?
DW: We are fully commercial and working on platform enhancements and functionality.
BP: What’s your traction like thus far? Any barriers to sales?
DW: We currently have 172 paying facilities in 32 states, with another 128 facilities actively participating or planning 30-day pilot programs. The biggest barrier to sales is the perception that IT implementations are difficult and time consuming. So there’s this cringe factor when people hear “software deployment.” The reality is our How’s Mom platform is nothing like that. Because we integrate with existing EHR systems – PointClickCare and MatrixCare as of today – implementation can be done in days with a minimum of effort. And truthfully, from our end, it takes less than an hour. The platform is very intuitive, so staff training is minimal. Families simply download the app and they’re live. That said, we offer 30-day free pilots to facilities so they can try it with no obligations.
BP: COVID had a profound impact on nursing facilities and created fear and anxiety among families, patients and caregivers. How has it affected Safekeeping?
DW: As you mentioned, COVID created anxiety among families especially in states that locked down long-term care facilities. The need for information on loved ones exploded when families could not visit in person. On the other side of the spectrum, facilities were under enormous pressure to stay staffed and create a safe environment for workers. Because of COVID, there has been tremendous turnover in staff such as nurses, social workers and particularly among CNAs. Add to that, new demands on staff time and no money to fund new protocols so we’ve seen long-term care facilities shut down as a result. So this is a stressed industry.
Safekeeping has thrived under COVID because we remove communication and administrative burdens from staff and provide that critical, real-time connection point to information for families and loved ones.
BP: The federal Cures Act is also working in your favor, correct?
DW: Absolutely. This is an act passed in 2016 and is intended to give patients safe and secure access to health data so they can better manage their care and make more informed healthcare decisions. It was first implemented in hospitals and medical practices – you’ve likely used the portals hospitals now have on their websites – and now it is set to be implemented in long-term care facilities. Healthcare providers need to be ready to share certain electronic health records with patients and family members on request to be Cures Act compliant.
Here’s the deal. While some of our clients are aware of the Cures Act and are specifically implementing our platform as their solution, many long-term care facilities are not aware they have to be compliant with the Act. Those not in compliance will face financial penalties in the form of lower reimbursements. As far as we know, Safekeeping, with our clinical focus and EHR integration, has the only platform that is Cures Act ready. Other apps will pop up, but this is not an easy integration. It will take at least 12 months, and probably longer, for a competitor to develop a solution.
BP: Do you have any IP protection?
DW: We are looking into patents and IP protection with our legal team. We do have it on our radar and likely will use a portion of funds from our next raise to begin the process.
BP: Do you have competitors?
DW: We do. Kind of. There are a number of companies focused on the social side of long-term care. They address social engagement, sharing photos and videos between mom and dad and their families. That’s the easy stuff. But it doesn’t solve anyone’s problems. Social apps make work for caregivers, add additional processes, and some require additional hardware and software—all of which are big turn-offs for senior care operators.
Safekeeping’s How’s Mom platform does the heavy lifting in terms of functionality and usability. Caregivers, families, and patients get a much richer, more complete experience in a self-serve format. Because we’re integrated with a facility’s EMR system, families can access information on their family member’s vitals, conditions, medications, and nutrition – the type of information people normally must call in to get.
BP: How much are you planning to raise and what will the proceeds be used for?
DW: This is a seed round and we’re hoping to raise $1 million to get us ready for a Series A raise. Half of this raise will go to continuing to add functionality to the platform that will drive adoption. The other half will go to sales and marketing. We just hired our first employee, a full-time salesperson, and customer support representatives will be added soon as well.
BP: Why should VisionTech Angels invest in Safekeeping?
DW: Four reasons. Founders who have personally lived the pain points of the industry and have a passion for delivering the right solution for caregivers, families and patients. Momentum in the industry; we’re integrated with the largest EHR company in the long-term care industry which provides instant credibility and ease of use. We’re market proven with nearly 200 users. And finally, timing is in our favor. Because of the Cures Act, long-term care facilities may soon be mandated to provide the type of information Safekeeping makes accessible now without adding any burdens to users. I hope VisionTech investors go big.
To learn more about Safekeeping, visit their website. VisionTech Angels’ August Pitch Events will be virtual on Tuesday, August 24 and Thursday, August 26 at 6 p.m. Pitch events are open to our members and accredited investors interested in joining our group. To register, check your email for an invitation, go to our Events page or email Ben Pidgeon at email@example.com.