Wake Forest MBA students help local high-tech startup aimed at health-care facilities

1.28.2013 Article, School News

Startup helps bring online tracking to assisted living and home-care businesses
Reposted from Winston-Salem Journal | by Richard Craver

A high-tech startup with a presence in Winston-Salem and Yadkinville is aiming to help small health-care facilities better manage their bookkeeping and software programs.

RenCare Technologies Inc. is operated by co-founders Lauren Reavis, the company’s president and a registered nurse, and David Smitherman, chief executive and a management consultant. Both are enrolled in the master’s of business administration program at Wake Forest University.

Reavis earned her master’s of science in nursing administration at Gardner-Webb University in 2011. She also has nine years of experience working in long-term care and acute-care facilities.

Smitherman co-founded a nanotechnology-based medical-device company that spun out of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Their goal is offering services to facilities providing assisted-living or in-home care that must contract with a registered nurse under licensed health-professional support standards required by t he adult-care licensure section of the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation.

Registered nurses are needed to supervise an array of personnel, including personal care assistants, medical technician and certified nursing assistants, resident care coordinators, dietary managers, activity coordinators and transportation managers. They also are responsible for establishing the appropriate plans of care for residents.

Reavis and Smitherman said current practices require keeping paper-intensive charts on each resident and tracking and monitoring activities with these charts.

RenCare’s CareChek program provides an online, cloud-based software solution that is in use in nine facilities in North Carolina.

The officials said nearly 470,000 North Carolinians receive assisted living or in-home care services dependent on Medicaid assistance. Their goal is to go after market share in the state’s assisted living facilities, then expand into neighboring states within three years.

If that happens, they believe they would be large enough to attract the attention of a national health-care group. Their goal is earning at least $3 million in revenue by year three and being sold for at least three times that value.

Reavis took time to discuss RenCare’s plans. An edited version follows.

Q . How/why did your group identify health-care agencies with thin profit margins for your software services?

A. Well, the short answer is we work in these agencies every day and therefore realized the need.

As a nurse, I have worked in the acute-care environment where the largest majority of the workforce is highly trained professionals, and yet they have computer programs and support systems that leave little room for human error.

You walk into these low profit-margin facilities all across North Carolina and you find a large group of paraprofessionals, typically with certificates and the large majority holding only a high-school diploma or equivalent.

(A paraprofessional is a job title given to a person in various occupational fields, such as education, health care, engineering and law, who are trained to assist professionals but do not themselves have a professional license.)

“They function independent of many of these luxuries, so I pose, ‘How can we not give these tools to the people who need them the most?’

Q, How does your cloud service work, and how can it be managed at the individual agency site by personnel who may not be familiar with such applications?

A. Our application is hosted at a secure data center – in a strategic partnership with Yadtel we have secured a hosting relationship that allows for very little information-technology investment needed on the part of the facilities. There is an Internet connection and WiFi, and a facility can access CareChek from anywhere.

Q. What are your selling points to these agencies?

A. Efficiency and consistency.

Most facilities operate with many silos of information.

CareChek allows for data to be managed in a way that gives the business managers access to all of their patients, and all of the staff get consistent and updated data to help them to give the best care to the residents. That doesn’t exist today, at least not for those of us who work primarily with Medicaid patients.

Q Is your group being affected by Medicaid changes coming from the Affordable Care Act, and if so, are they presenting business opportunities?

A. I'm not aware of any relationship with the Affordable Care Act, but Medicaid in North Carolina, especially for those in adult care homes, is undergoing major changes right now resulting in the loss of benefits for personal care services (PCS) by many North Carolinians living in these facilities.

I think there are some opportunities presented by these policy changes for software. In fact at a staff meeting recently, they were challenging me to develop a software solution for the new Consolidated PCS documentation requirements. Luckily, we are already working on this and have been in development with this solution since the documentation requirements were made clear in late 2012.

Q. The company is clear about its aspirations of being bought or acquired by a national firm within three years. What is or will be your selling point to those groups?

A. My aspiration for this company is to develop a solution for people who need help with managing information. I think that this can potentially be handled as well or better by a company with strong roots in technology and IT with a strong national foundation.

Our company is niche-focused right now and can benefit from relationships with larger partners, which is where I hope we find ourselves in a few years partnering with other companies that play in the national long-term care software market.

Q. How has being based in Winston-Salem and the Triad helped the company’s development?

A. The Triad is an excellent area for business cultivation and has provided me with many opportunities both in business relationships and resources, such as the Piedmont Triad Partnership, where we were able to meet potential investors.

Additionally, strong networks such as those I have had access to through my education career at Wake Forest University's School of Business have proved to be invaluable throughout the startup of this business.

I hope they will continue to provide a great network to support this business as we grow.

For link to article Click Here.