Originally published by TechCrunch on June 23, 2022
Senior living communities often rely on paper or legacy systems to manage their operations, making it difficult for healthcare providers to keep track of residents’ needs. August Health is on a mission to change that with a SaaS system created especially for senior residences. The company has raised a $15 million Series A, led by Matrix Partners and returning investor General Catalyst. The round also included participation from Dan Baty, the founder of Columbia Pacific, and Arine Whitman, founder of Formation Capital. This brings August Health’s total raised so far to $17.6 million.
The company’s vertical SaaS that manages care and compliance for thousands for senior living residents, and it also includes a virtual care platform that enables telehealth visits with physicians. Co-founder Erez Cohen says that about 74% of senior living communities are still run on paper.
Cohen is a second-time founder whose first startup, Mapsense, was acquired by Apple in 2015. He met his co-founder, Dr. Justin Schram, at a playground in Bernal Heights in 2020, where both their kids were playing.
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Cohen had recently left his position at Apple, where he led an engineering and product group after Mapsense was acquired, and was looking for mission-driven opportunities. At that time, Schram was medical director of Landmark Health, a healthcare group that focuses on older patients.
Many resided in senior living communities, giving Schram a chance to see how a lot of residences still operated on paper and legacy tech systems, making it harder for Landmark’s providers to gain access to information about their patients. For example, if a provider wanted to know a patients’ medication list, care plan, history of recent events or weight and vitals trends, they had to dig through paper records onsite. This presented a problem, especially when there was an emergency.
“Justin shared his experience with me working in senior living communities, where some of society’s most essential work is taking place, yet the communities are underserved by modern, high-quality technology to support their extensive and complex care operations,” Cohen told TechCrunch, adding that COVID underscored these issues.
The two started visiting communities where Dr. Schram previously had patients and saw an opportunity to support administrators and caregivers by building software that would automate busywork, simplify compliance and streamline community services, Cohen added.
People working at senior care residences often struggle with time-consuming paperwork, including move-in packets, face sheets, emergency binders, medication administration records and service plans. “When some information gets updated in one place, it often remains outdated in the other, and the source of truth becomes difficult to identify,” Cohen said. “This has led to lawsuits — it often remains outdated, where disparate records have resulted in injury or death.”
Paper records also make tracking basic analytics very difficult. For example, Cohen said senior care residence staffs often have trouble tracking (for example) how many falls have occurred in their facility, how much they should charge for new residents and the average acuity across communities.
In addition to impacting resident care, this leads to staff burnout. Many senior residences are dealing with staff shortages and struggling to recruit younger staff members, especially during COVID, Cohen said.
August Health helps by creating a digital charge for each resident with all the core information needed to coordinate their care, communicate with family members and external providers, maintain compliance with state regulations and run businesses with visibility into analytics. For example, it digitizes the move-in process, gathering the medical, social and personal histories of each patient, as well as their preferences and syncing it in real time.
Family members get access to a portal for filling out information, updating records, getting visibility on the resident’s care and options for payment. That data goes directly to a resident care record, where the residence’s staff can conduct assessments, create care plans, chart progress notes, track incidents, generate and store essential documents and manage medications and monitor trends.
Importantly, August Health’s compliance tools also perform a real-time evaluation of regulatory compliance based on state-specific requirements and generates automatic reminders if requirements are missing or need to be updated, Cohen said. “The solution helps track and automate compliance, which is a huge pain point for customers, historically requiring a whole lot of mental load, sticky notes and Excel spreadsheets to manually track due dates to avoid citation or fines.”
Cohen said August Health’s biggest competitors are legacy systems that were originally built for other industries. For example, Yardi was created as a general real-estate and property management software but added assisted living care tools through acquisition. PointClickCare, on the other hand, was built as a post-acute, skilled nursing software and is a hospital-level EHR, which means it is often difficult for Assisted Living users to navigate. Other options include AL Advantage, Tabula Pro and Caring Data.
The startup monetizes through its two main products. There is a move-in only product that is limited to initial intake workflow. August Health charges a fee per active resident each month. The majority of its customers are also on its end-to-end Assisted Living software platform, which also charges communities per active resident each month.
“We align with our customers so they are not paying for empty beds but instead only for actual residents in the community,” said Cohen.