Home-care workers know a lot about their patients, but they don’t always know what's worth telling doctors. San Francisco-based Care at Hand bridges that gap: It produces surveys for caregivers to complete (via the company’s app and platform) that can identify if a senior is at risk of serious medical issues. “Our library has 2,700 questions and 55 algorithms to determine which 15 should be deployed for a particular person,” says founder Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky. He explains the importance of some questions.
Q: Did Mrs. Jones sleep on more pillows last night than most other nights?
Purpose: “One symptom of heart failure is called pillow orthopnea. When the left side of the heart is petering out, it’s not pumping well. The blood backs up, and the only place it can go is the lungs. If you lie down, it literally feels like you’re drowning. To avoid that feeling, patients prop themselves up on a bunch of pillows.”
Q: In the last month, did Mrs. Jones ever go without groceries or personal items because no one was there to help her shop?
Purpose: “As physicians, we tell our patients to avoid salt at all costs. It absorbs fluid and brings it into your body. For people with heart failure, they hold on to that water -- the body just overflows with fluid, and you could die, because you can’t breathe anymore. If someone can’t get to a supermarket, they’re going to reach for the canned food, which has a shitload of salt in it.”
Q: In the past week, has Mrs. Jones been afraid that she wouldn’t get the services she needed?
Purpose: “Based on the home-care worker’s responses, the platform will automatically send an alert to a supervising nurse, prompting her to look into that patient and coordinate further care. And that can mean the patient avoids hospitalization.”