Reducing hospitalizations for frail elderly members is a major challenge for Medicare Advantage payers and providers. The key to avoiding any hospitalization is to detect and address a change in condition before it worsens. Cherries Co-founder and CEO Dirk Soenksen talks about how his company aims to meet these needs with a platform to digitally enable caregivers.
Why did you start this company?
To improve the experience of families living with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.
What need are you looking to address in healthcare?
Frail older adults account for 70% of all Medicare hospitalizations and more than 50% of total medical costs. Research shows that 50% of these hospitalizations can be avoided by activated family caregivers (spouses, elderly children) when they detect changes in a loved one’s condition before it worsens. However, most payers and providers are out of touch with family caregivers of their family members/patients and lack an effective “playbook” to engage family caregivers in the care of their family members/patients.
What does your product do? How it works?
Ceresti identifies, enrolls and activates frail elderly Medicare family caregivers beneficiaries, at scale, to reduce medical costs, achieve improved health outcomes and support aging in place. Ceresti’s Digital Caregiver Activation Platform (DCAP) uses data and predictive analytics to enable and support caregivers through a personalized non-medical program of education, resources, social worker-led mentoring and remote monitoring by caregivers of their loved one; all are delivered via a special tablet that is sent to the carer’s home.
Is this your first healthcare startup? What is your background in healthcare?
No. Prior to co-founding Ceresti, I was the founder and CEO of Aperio, a venture-backed company that we built into a recognized global leader in digital pathology. Aperio was acquired by Danaher/Leica Biosystems in October 2012. In 2006, I founded the Digital Pathology Association (DPA), a non-profit organization of major vendors and leading pathologists to establish best practices and raise awareness of digital pathology. I was president of DPA from its inception until 2012 and as a board member of DPA until the end of 2014.
What is your company’s business model?
We charge a monthly fee per enrolled caregiver/dyad member. This can be converted on an annual basis to a monthly fee, which is sometimes based on the total number of members in the population (ie PMPM).
Who is your customer?
Our (paying) customers are Medicare Advantage health plans, including Duals plans and PACE programs, as well as at-risk providers. For every engagement we offer our program at zero cost to caregivers/families. We are a BBC company.
Do you have clinical validation for your product?
yes 80% reduction in hospitalizations (p=0.02) and 53% reduction in medical costs (p=0.003) were realized in an independently validated clinical trial in Medicare Advantage members (N=164) with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
photo: ipopba, Getty Images