The senior companionship company Papa has made another partnership that will accelerate its impact on seniors aging in place across the country.
Milliman Inc. — a global consulting and actuarial firm — and Papa are teaming up to provide hands-on help to Milliman’s HealthIO program members.
HealthIO is a mobile platform that helps seniors with complex conditions keep track of their health status to proactively recognize urgent issues. To help, Papa will be enlisting its “Papa Pals,” non-clinical companions that help seniors with socialization, technology and housework, among other things.
“Having a Papa Pal there to help the members navigate the devices, ensure they’re aware of what the program is about and continuously provide helpful nudges is really a critical component of the relationship,” Papa CEO Andrew Parker told Home Health Care News. “Papa is proactive, while most services in health care are reactive. And the fact a Pal can make this [process] more enjoyable and engaging can be really beneficial.”
The Miami-based Papa has expanded to all 50 states rapidly. As part of its business model, it contracts with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Medicaid and employer-sponsored health plans to bring “family on demand” to seniors.
Parker said that he has become very cautious with what partnerships Papa signs on to because many of them don’t provide real value to seniors. He believes this one, however, will do just that.
On its end, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based HealthIO was founded by Sanjay Mohan. The platform describes itself as a “business-to-business-to-consumer digital health company.” Through data, the company believed, predictive analytics and advanced algorithms could be created to help seniors with complex health conditions better manage their health.
Milliman acquired HealthIO in 2020, recognizing the platform’s ability to show the “dramatic impact preventive health can have on any organization’s bottom line.”
Papa surfaced as a natural and like-minded partner to further HealthIO’s mission, Mohan — the managing director of HealthIO — told HHCN.
“We created HealthIO purely as a way to acquire data on conditions that don’t happen overnight; they onset over a period of time,” Mohan said. “So if we [do that] in the home environment on an ongoing basis, even for those who are not already diagnosed with a condition, we may be able to predict the onset of the condition. Or if they’re already diagnosed, we can track the progression of the condition in a way where we can create timely interventions sooner than something becoming an emergency event.”
Using HealthIO and Papa’s technology while combining it with the “feet on the ground” model that Papa deploys, will allow the two to provide a level of engagement to members that Mohan believes will make a “material difference in the future.”
While creating more touch points and surveillance of seniors with these health conditions is a great idea in theory, it’s not always followed through with in practice. In other words, seniors need to comply — or at least know how to comply — in order for these interventions to be possible.
“The biggest issue in managing health is engagement — and not just in the senior population. How many times do you set yourself a health goal but then disengage and fall off the regimen, right?” Mohan said. “That problem is even worse with senior folks. And using technology coupled with [Papa] can provide a model where we can sustain a certain kind of engagement with the member base.”
Mohan said the main goal of the partnership is to enhance the lives of the seniors it’s trying to serve, but with that would come welcomed financial outcomes.
Papa’s staffing success
Papa is not itself a traditional home health or home care provider, nor has it experienced the same staffing woes as those organizations have.
In fact, Papa has actually seen an increased interest from those wishing to be a Papa Pal during the COVID-19 crisis.
In all likelihood, the people Papa employs as Pals — college students, not fully employed adults and retirees — will help complement the traditional home-based care workforce moving forward.
“This is an amazing job opportunity. It’s a mission-driven organization, and it’s a good way to make a living wage without having to do some of the things that were traditionally required in home care,” Parker said. “So with the fact that there’s such a shortage of caregivers and home care professionals, we feel it is critical to tap into an untapped market of people. And by removing bathing and toileting, we’ve really been able to do that.”