In our new series, hear from Scott Zielski, CEO of Smartcare Software, about his experiences and insights related to the home care industry.
Before creating Smartcare, my father had a surgery that didn’t go well. We ended up moving him from the hospital to other assisted living spaces. I saw him go from a nursing home to home, and back to the nursing home, even though he was most engaged and wanted to be cared for in his own home. My mom tried to take care of my dad from home, but she was aging too, and she struggled without additional people to help her. Instead, she did what she could and when he was in facilities, she would drive to the nursing home every night to have dinner with him.
Around the same time, I was working for Pfizer in the medical device sector, and technology was becoming a large part of hospitals’ workflow optimization and drug delivery management as part of acute care. This created a need for pristine workflows to improve care delivery and eliminate “never events” like medication errors. It was clear that having the right workflows could improve overall outcomes while reducing costs and increasing operational efficiencies.
During that time, I also believed that the future of healthcare was moving out of the hospital and into the home. I believed that ultimately what we would see is more care in the home and at a higher acuity level where the “hospital of the home” concept was created. I started researching our aging population trends, the bolus of retirees that were coming as baby boomers aged, and what that would mean for care in the future.
It was through the intersection of these two events that focused my interest in the future of senior care and home healthcare technology innovation. I started analyzing how people age and who in the future would help care for them. I started wondering how I could help others age gracefully, and how innovative technology solutions could help our senior generation and those that would ultimately care for them. I wondered what workflow optimizations — similar to what was done in hospitals — could do in a setting like home care.
As I explored home healthcare, I discovered that the industry was made up of a number of legacy software companies using technology that was dated and had many challenges. These first-generation solutions had transitioned from deployed systems to cloud-based technology, but they had not evolved beyond simply providing their systems to meet the basic needs of care.
Legacy software companies were built on what people thought of home care before. We wanted to build a company on new technologies, new innovations, and solve the biggest challenges in the home care industry — today and in the future. That is when Bill and I started to connect on an idea that would ultimately become Smartcare Software.
Founding the Business
Bill Mattle and I first met each other when we both worked for an Internet Capital-backed SaaS company focused on Human Resources in the late 90s. It was in the Silicon Valley area during the first explosion of the Internet and Dot-Com era. We had similar interests and a strong pull toward the energy of the startup world that kept us connected many years later. Ultimately, we created this new business idea that we believed could be the future of home care.
Smartcare Software was founded on the belief that we have a duty to our parents and grandparents to ensure that the generations that came before us age with dignity; enabling providers through technology in home care that produces better outcomes, has a human connection, is convenient, and delivers the best care experience possible. We both had these core beliefs that drove many of the early directions of Smartcare.
The first few years were highly focused on bringing to market a home care and personal care scheduling solution built on pristine workflows. We took our experience from the acute care space, where the workflows were extremely critical so patients didn’t have adverse effects. Our goal with Smartcare was to deliver the same high-quality care, so we made sure that pristine workflows were core to our solution’s foundation. The second goal was to make sure it was flexible enough to tailor them to a specific needs of a provider, so we didn’t limit the individual needs that allow providers to deliver the best care in the way they choose.
Realignment with the Industry
We originally jumped into this thinking, “Hey, we can build a better workflow solution with a better scheduling platform for operational efficiency!” But ultimately, we discovered that we had to solve other challenges that customers face every day.
Over the course of the next couple of years, we talked with many home care providers of all sizes and geographic areas. What we realized is that workflows were important, and they did drive efficiencies and operational advancement, but the industry had another huge challenge on the horizon — caregiver retention.
What was happening in the industry was that too many caregivers were leaving agencies and going elsewhere, making turnover rates very high. In a people-focused industry, this was a huge problem. We made it our mission to use our experiences and conversations with providers to innovate and build a solution to the hiring and caregiver retention problem.
Smartcare’s Caregiver Rewards became the industry’s first embedded loyalty system, and significantly improved caregiver retention rates. Leveraging gamification principles, Caregiver Rewards assigns customizable values to earn rewards for meeting performance criteria, like clocking in on time or picking up a shift. The automation in Caregiver Rewards makes recognition instant and makes the job more fun, which ultimately improves caregiver retention.
We coupled this with our ENGAGE Hiring Hub, creating the industry’s first Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that was designed just for home care. A system that addresses the unique challenges of attracting and onboarding top caregivers, ENGAGE allows providers to post positions to job boards, manage applicants, and move candidates through the stages of their hiring process, significantly improving the applicant-to-hire ratio.
Becoming an All-in-One Solution
Through our research, we quickly gained insights into caregiver retention and learned that retention is more than just one tool or process. Through our findings, it became clear that successful retention was the result of a multi-faceted approach that spans the entirety of a caregiver’s life cycle with a provider.
Three of the criteria play into our multi-faceted approach include:
- Better matching — Smartcare built industry-leading matching criteria, the only one in the world that has criteria style matching. It provides a better match, which leads to a better relationship between the client/caregiver, which leads to better outcomes, and of course better retention.
- Ease of Use — Smartcare’s mobile app is easy to use and is available on any device. It enables caregivers to want to clock in, instead of dreading paperwork or antiquated systems.
- Gamification — Rewards start before an employee is even hired. Engaging them through the hiring process and generating excitement puts a provider at a competitive advantage to hire faster. Post-hiring, retention is easier with Caregiver Rewards keeping them engaged and instantly recognized for their efforts.
These are just some of the things that were put in place with Smartcare. The best-in-class workflows alone are something that separates Smartcare from the legacy providers. Adding all functionality organically under one platform makes it a solution that works long-term, enables people to stay longer, and keeps them happier.
The Smartcare Difference
Smartcare is all about taking a people- and business-centric approach to home care. It’s not about the software, it’s our people — and your people — that make the difference. We believe in making everything we do simply better through continual improvement. Keep watching, and you’ll see even more improvements as we continue to lead the market in technological advancements for home care.
To learn more about Smartcare Software, request a free demo.