Burlingame, California-based online caregiver marketplace CareLinx has acquired Optimal Aging, the in-home caregiver program from Providence St. Joseph Health as it looks to build on its offerings to assist managed care patients.

Developed by the PSJH’s digital innovation group, Optimal Aging links together non-clinical services like home care, transportation and meal support to help keep seniors healthy in their homes.

The platform acts as a central point of management and coordination for everything from pet care and laundry to medication reminders and grocery shopping.

CareLinx was an early partner with PSJH in the development of Optimal Aging, providing the tech infrastructure and the caregiver labor in collaboration with the health system’s clinical expertise. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik said the acquisition will allow the company to scale Optimal Aging’s service offerings nationwide and expand their ability to provide transitional care to health plan partners.

These capabilities are particularly important as CareLinx looks to prioritize the development of its Medicare Advantage business with the recent decision by CMS to expand the range of health related supplemental benefits that can be covered by the program.

Last year, the company launched its Medicare at Home program which connects clinical teams to caregivers to better track patient vital signs and health behaviors, making it easier for MA programs to tack on in-home care as an additional benefit.

“The main driver here is more and more of these Medicare Advantage plans are looking at how to smartly integrate non-skilled in-home care into their programs,” Sheik said in a phone interview.

“The acquisition is expanding Medicare at Home to not only be a chronic care program, but also a transitional care program to reduce short-term readmission rates.”

Optimal Aging was initially launched in Seattle in 2016 and has since expanded in the region, serving more than 6,700 seniors.

Early results have shown Optimal Aging potential in reducing costs. A small pilot program tested with Providence St. Joseph Health Medicare Advantage members that provided patients with check-in phone calls and in-home visits had lower 30-day hospital readmission rates.

Sheik said he’s seen “exponential growth” in the interest of health plans looking to roll out associated non-clinical services and forecasts 2021 as the year in which a tipping point in the space will happen.

The next couple years, according to Sheik, will be a learning period as Medicare Advantage plans hone in on what exactly the “secret sauce” treatment plans are that combine clinical practice with non-clinical services and at-home care providers.

He pointed to the explosion in senior fitness programs in plan offerings as an example of the kind of growth he expects to see in the non-clinical at home care market.

“It started with only of a couple plans and now it has basically become a status quo offering so in order to have a competitive plan you need to have this benefit,” Sheik said.

While the company is not actively looking for additional acquisition targets, Sheik said one area of focus is stronger incorporation of connected devices and remote sensors in order to bridge the last mile between the clinic and patient’s daily lives.

Photo: jacoblund, Getty Images

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