Richardson-based startup and inaugural Health Wildcatters graduate Cariloop has been included in an IBM product developed to help patients and their families navigate the Medicaid program.
The opportunity comes from the startup’s partnership with a Florida-based company named InterActive-BB, LLC., which used the IBM Watson technology to build a state-specific application that will answer consumer questions about navigating the senior care marketplace.
“Consumers need support in better understanding the programs and laws available to help seniors pay for their elder care, as well as why they may need estate planning or documents such as a revocable trust or power of attorney” says Michael Graham, CEO of InterActive-BB. “Our goal is to serve families by providing the opportunity to learn about Medicaid, VA Aid and Attendance, Medicare, and other long-term planning options. Leveraging the cognitive capabilities of Watson enables the tool to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience by quickly surfacing the insights our users need to make important decisions about their long-term care.”
Cariloop began as an online service to help customers identify services for their aging family members. But as time went on, its executives realized that people needed a bridge to understand what they were looking for in the first place, said Michael Walsh, the company’s founder and CEO.
So Cariloop pivoted. It has hired seven certified coaches who can hop on video chats to help answer questions. It’s a similar consulting model that helped Dallas-based Compass Professional Health Services balloon to the point where Inc. magazine named it one of the country’s 1,000 fastest growing private companies. Walsh says he’s also shifted his target from consumers to employers, who can offer this service as part of their benefit packages.
“This is a big deal for us because if we put out our solution to employers, it’s just one more value-added thing that we bring to the table that’s going to get the employees the answers they need faster,” he said. “This bolsters the offering that we’re taking to employers.”
Interactive-BB, LLC is IBM’s official partner for the Watson application’s personal health and family care section. IBM is referring to the products as “cognitive enabled apps,” which means that they’re placing great trust in each company’s ability to answer a multitude of questions about specific services. It provides an API (artificial programming interface, basically a tool that companies can use to build its own applications) to partners that focus in career counseling, advertising, research and development, health and wellness, and about 10 other areas. Watson will harness information from the companies to answer the user’s questions.
“We have exclusive access to distribute this product, that’s what makes it interesting,” Walsh said. “Nobody in our space is going to have access to this technology to offer it to their member base.”
Cariloop has currently signed on more than 5,000 customers. It’s now targeting small and midsized employers, which could have as few as 25 employees up to 5,000. It’s courting companies with as many as 25,000, he added. The majority of its customers are currently based in Texas, although that could change.
“For the type of concierge coaching service that we are now, it doesn’t have to be limited geographically,” Walsh says. “A lot of the questions I have if I’m in Chicago, Illinois are the same questions I have if I’m in Dallas.”
Cariloop was part of the initial dozen of graduates from Health Wildcatters, the only healthcare startup accelerator in the southwest.