CareTribe finds caregivers need support, too

CareTribe finds caregivers need support, too

Dr. Jeff Jacques, an internal medicine physician in Palo Alto, knows well what it’s like to care for a loved one. He spent time in the neonatal ICU after his son was born prematurely, and later on, helped care for his father after he diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“As a caregiver, the pressures and stresses that you experience, whether for a child or an elder loved one, are not that dissimilar. You are the decision maker and the navigator for lack of a better word,” Jacques said. “For me, both of those journeys — even though I’m a physician and married to a physician — it felt like we reinvented the wheel both times for both my father and my son.”
That experience led him to start CareTribe with the idea of making that process a little bit easier for caregivers and their families. The startup uses predictive analytics to help them come up with a plan for the future and recommends benefits to help them in that process.
After selling his previous digital health startup to Aetna in 2005, Jacques worked there for a little over a decade, becoming chief medical officer of the insurer’s incubator, Healthagen. When Aetna started to move away from that strategy, he started another company to support parents of NICU babies before co-founding CareTribe in 2018.
From his experience, most insurance companies have programs to help manage high risk patients, but few resources are directed at caregivers.
“Those programs are pretty good at engaging people who are high risk. They’re decent at getting people to do things,” he said. “But they do not usually leverage a highly engaged loved one or caregiver who wants to help but doesn’t know how.”
The startup helps users come up with financial, legal and long-term care plans. It also helps them find benefits that might be of help, and brings in navigators to provide support.
For example, if a family member or loved one was diagnosed with dementia, risk of falling can be a concern. Jacques said CareTribe had been helping users get home fall risk assessments, which are often somewhere in their employee benefits.
Just as important, the company also considers the mental health of caregivers. It offers periodic assessments to see how they’re doing and what they need. If a mental health risk is identified, they can refer them to a local therapist or one through telemedicine.
Before the start of the pandemic, 53 million Americans served in the role of an unpaid family caregiver. Since then many have found themselves pinched between work, having kids at home and caring for a family member.
“With Covid especially, you have a lot of people who are just burned out, even without the pressures of caregiving,” he said. “Movement is restricted. You have kids at home all day and you’re caring for an adult relative at distance.”
Currently, CareTribe is sold as a benefit to employers. In addition to bringing on more companies, Jacques said the company is also in conversation with insurers looking to support caregivers of high-risk members.
In the meantime, Jacques and his colleagues are working to come up with more ways to help caregivers during the pandemic.
“We’re seeing a lot of people struggling to juggle all of those things simultaneously. It’s non-trivial,” he said.
Photo credit: ipopba, Getty Images

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