Medical Startup Seeks to Support Nursing Home Patients

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Kathleen Unroe is the founder of Care Revolution. (photo courtesy Indiana University) Kathleen Unroe is the founder of Care Revolution. (photo courtesy Indiana University)

An associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine has launched a startup aimed at changing how nursing homes care for long-stay residents. Kathleen Unroe says Care Revolution's goal is to reduce the number of unnecessary transfers from nursing homes to hospitals.

Unroe says Care Revolution trains registered nurses in a specialized role in such facilities to direct support to long-stay residents and their families. The startup also works to educate and train facility staff, lead care management reviews of long-stay patients to optimize chronic disease management, reduce unnecessary medications, and clarify health goals. 

"More than 25 percent of long-stay residents are hospitalized annually, which is burdensome to the residents and their families," said Unroe. "Around 45 percent of these visits are considered avoidable, which means they are a source of inefficiency and a waste of resources. They are also expensive, costing Medicare and Medicaid more than $1.9 billion in 2005."

IU says Care Revolution is commercializing a program called OPTIMISTIC, which has received more than $30 million in funding from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. During the initial phase of the project, which ran from 2012 to 2016, OPTIMISTIC was used at 19 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in central Indiana.

An independent evaluation showed the program reduced the number of avoidable hospitalizations by 33 percent and lowered Medicare expenses by an average of $1,589 per resident annually, creating a net savings of more than $3 million between 2014 and 2016.

Russ Evans, chief operating officer of Care Revolution, is a registered nurse who served as the OPTIMISTIC program administrator.

"The registered nurses are trained to recognize early warning signs of changes in a resident's condition so treatment can begin before the problem escalates," Evans said. "Once they see these changes, they will follow proven clinical pathways to work with the nursing home and providers to ensure the best care is delivered to the patient."

The recently-launched IU Philanthropic Venture Fund has awarded a $150,000 investment to Care Revolution.

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