Honor, a home care startup that secured a $20 million investment round last year, is aiming to provide more specialized care through a first-of-its kind partnership with the American Cancer Society. Three high-profile advisors also have been engaged to help Honor develop new offerings and initiatives, the San Francisco-based company announced today.
“We see Honor as being able to really make private duty home care different and offer a better customer experience,” co-founder and CEO Seth Sternberg told Home Health Care News. “Today’s announcement is really two big steps and each presages more to come.”
Through the partnership with the American Cancer Society, Honor’s care professionals will receive training on in-home cancer care. Honor also will license the American Cancer Society’s care guidance, and this will be available to care pros through the Honor Care Pro App.
“[The guidance] is curated for many of the possible side effects of cancer and cancer treatment so the Honor Pros can see the ways they can help those clients during their cancer treatment,” said Chuck Westbrook, senior vice president of programs and services at the American Cancer Society, in an email to HHCN.
The guidance might address such issues as how to approach nutrition or help move someone on chemotherapy, or what does a fever mean or mouth sores indicate, Sternberg said.
Like other startups leveraging technology to innovate the home care experience, Honor both enables potential clients to connect with caregivers via an app and also equips its caregivers with technology to record and share information about the care being provided. Through this use of technology, Honor has been able to offer more customized care based on clients’ needs and preferences, and these new tools for cancer care support this mission-critical aspect of the company, Sternberg said.
“Without a technology layer, it is very hard to deliver a personalized experience to someone’s home,” he said. “How can you reliably know that a given person has a preference about the food they eat? And if the care pro switches from person to person, how does the new care pro know [those preferences]?”
While Honor does not provide information about the exact number of cancer patients it is serving, the number is significant, according to Sternberg.
“I think it’ll be very high impact,” he said of the new partnership.
Industry Leaders on Board
Honor also has formally announced that it has been working with three well-known figures in the senior care realm, who have joined the company as official advisors. They are:
Bruce Allen Leff, M.D.: Dr. Leff is director of the Center for Transformative Geriatric Research and is a practicing geriatrician and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He founded the Hospital at Home program, which provides hospital-level services to certain eligible patients in their own homes and has been shown to cut costs by one-third while reducing complications.
Carol Raphael: For 22 years, Raphael served as president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest non-profit home health organization in the country. Currently, she is chairman of the AARP Board and the Long Term Quality Alliance. She served on the Congressional Bipartisan Commission on Long-Term Care and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).
Ronald Greeno, M.D.: A pioneer and nationally recognized expert on hospitalist programs, Greeno was co-founder of Cogent Healthcare Inc., where he served most recently as executive vice president of strategy & innovation. He now is chief strategy officer for IPC Healthcare Inc.
Each of these advisors brings a unique and relevant perceptive to Honor, Sternberg emphasized.
Greeno, for example, not only brings his experience in entrepreneurship and innovation, but believes that the health care system has been missing that you can keep people healthier and happier if you can keep them in their homes. Raphael is a “very big thinker” in the space and brings her tremendous operational experience as well as her insights on the consumer side. Leff recently took Sternberg and Kelsey Mellard, who leads Honor’s health system integration efforts, on rounds at Johns Hopkins. The visit provided insights and ideas about how Honor can improve, Sternberg said.
As for how the advisors interact with Honor, part of the process is “full immersion days,” according to Sternberg and Mellard. On these days, the advisors visit Honor and interact with everyone on the team—not only clinically focused workers but software engineers as well. This has proven helpful to give the engineers a clearer idea about what software the advisors and their colleagues use, and how to better integrate Honor into the overall ecosystem of health care tech.
Mellard likely has the most frequent interactions with the advisors.
“I probably speak with them weekly,” she said. “They’re really part of our day to day business as we refine our services.”
Entrepreneurs can bring an invaluable outsider perspective to a space, and shake things up for the better by creating new ways of doing things that are not based in preconceived ideas about the way business is done, Sternberg said. But he also appreciates the importance of getting insights and feedback from experts in the field.
“I have a lot of experience in user experience and building large-scale companies, and in tech,” he said. “That has some value applied over in home care. At the same time, you need the experts to help guide you and bounce ideas off of.”
Written by Tim Mullaney