A company that develops care coordination software similar to Slack has raised $2.5 million in a funding round aimed at expanding its reach to more hospitals and post-acute care facilities.
Launched a little over a year ago, Olio aims to break down the barriers between hospitals and their post-acute partners by facilitating easy communication among doctors and staff at nursing homes. The platform allows nursing home staff to complete quick, 15-second surveys of resident performance that all members of the care team — including physicians at the hospital — can view in a single place, founder and CEO Ben Forrest told Skilled Nursing News.
And unlike some other solutions, because the product is aimed at hospitals looking to beef up their post-acute observation capabilities, Olio doesn’t charge SNFs to use the software.
“You now have this game of episodic care,” Forrest said. “So you’ve got most times 90 days, and there’s a lot of clinicians that touch that patient across their journey. Unfortunately, all those clinicians are siloed in different environments.”
Clear, easy channels have often been hard to come by in the post-acute care space, stymieing growing initiatives that focus on the patient’s overall health care trajectory and not the specific care setting. Bundled payment models and accountable care organizations (ACOs) have been designed to lower costs and improve care by forcing providers across the spectrum to split single episodic payments, while even traditional Medicare encourages the avoidance of readmissions with potential penalties under the Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program.
Once a patient leaves the hospital for a skilled nursing facility, doctors at the acute center can’t always receive regular updates about their progress, with many nursing homes still relying on phone calls and fax messages. But the burden to report statuses and outcomes frequently rests on already overworked staffs at nursing homes, Forrest said.
“We have no doubt that there are needed solutions for specifically the skilled nursing provider teams,” Forrest said. “They just, in my opinion, are being asked a great deal right now to execute at a lesser length of stay with their patients, have multiple hospitals asking them for resources, and there’s an opportunity for tools and solutions to be developed.”
Forrest, formerly a sales manager at medical equipment firm Stryker, became interested in the care-collaboration space after working with physicians involved in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) initiative, a once-mandatory bundled payment program that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has since pared back. Under that model, the government experimented with providing a single reimbursement for joint replacements, which hospitals would then split with their post-acute payment providers — and potentially face penalties if the eventual cost exceeded set benchmarks.
During Forrest’s time working with doctors in the program, he heard frustrations about how patients’ post-acute care plans were frequently outside of their hands.
“These guys didn’t even know where their patients were, let alone how they were doing,” he said.
After launching his own consulting firm aimed at care collaboration, Forrest left Stryker a year ago to focus full time on the platform, which he compared to the popular office collaboration product Slack — a tool that allows workers across departments to chat, manage projects, and perform other tasks.
The Carmel, Ind.-based Olio rolled out its flagship platform on a beta basis with physician group Central Indiana Orthopedics, putting the software in 15 nursing homes around the Hoosier State.
The company also launched with its first two hospital partners — a pair of systems in the Indianapolis area — in January, with skilled nursing partners accounting for about 70% of the company’s current user base. Under Olio’s model, skilled nursing facilities use the software free of charge, with variable payment rates for hospitals based on the scope of their tracking needs and the size of their footprints.
The $2.5 million funding round, culled mostly from angel investors along with venture capital firm Innovative Ventures, will go toward expanding Olio’s own reach moving forward, with the first round of outcomes data expected by summertime, Forrest said.
“Our main focus right now is delivering on the initial designs of Olio, and continuing to create a collaborative product that satisfies both sides’ needs, acute and post-acute,” he said.