Terry Wall on Building Carefeed and the Positive Effects of Creating Efficiency
Nancy Griffin speaks with the CEO and Founder of Carefeed—the leading provider of simple, secure, cloud-based and HIPAA-compliant digital communication solutions for skilled nursing and senior living communities.
Nancy: Tell us about your background.
Terry: My career could be summed up in two words—digital transformation. I started with The Yellow Pages in 2000 after graduating college, converting print to digital. The last ten years prior to starting Carefeed this was my focus. I worked for a company called PatientPoint, which makes anatomical posters for doctors’ offices. So instead of posters we put in iPads with 3D anatomical diagrams that doctors could draw on.
I led the hospital business unit and traveled the country meeting with a lot of post-acute providers. I saw their challenges firsthand. I felt that skilled nursing, assisted living and post-acute care providers needed the most help with technology. They are a bit behind the times.
Nancy: Tell us about Carefeed. How did you come up with the idea, and what is the company all about?
Terry: I came up with the idea pre-Covid, in 2019, with the goal of creating a communication platform to make administrators' lives easier. Carefeed started with mom and pop, one owner/operator nursing homes here in Ohio where we are based and expanded through Indiana and Illinois. Today we have a full suite of solutions for the entire team. Our goal is twofold—I like to say yin and yang. It's all about operational efficiencies, using technology to make their lives easier, but the other side of the coin giving families information to promote trust and transparency.
Nancy: Technology integration is a huge challenge in senior living environments, and I know it's something you've done quite well in terms of partnering with other companies. Tell us about integrating with Carefeed.
Terry: I'm a big believer in being able to integrate with everyone. We integrate with tons of EHR and CRM companies. We are a PointClickCare partnerMatrixCare and SigmaCare. Our goals are similar: we want to make our clients happy.
Nancy: It seems like your ability to integrate stems from your deep understanding of the industry. It seems as though many technology companies come in thinking they understand but they don't, right?
Terry: Well, health care is in my DNA. My father was a physician. His father was a physician and my great grandfather was a physician. I chose business school over medical school and spending almost 10 years at PatientPoint was great. It’s all about helping—that's the best part.
Nancy: At Carefeed’s core is operational efficiency, which is so important because it frees up the staff to take care of residents and patients. Tell us about the efficiencies you're seeing when you implement Carefeed in senior living.
Terry: There are so many tasks that technology streamlines to make staff’s lives easier. An example is digitizing the intake process. I don't know if you've ever seen the amount of paperwork required when you move into a skilled or assisted living community—it’s like buying a house. We have a 58 community group that did a case study for us and reported we saved them two hours per admission packet. Digitizing this process also has a centralized reporting function. It is not just the time savings but the ability for regionals and corporate to access the information.
That’s the beauty of digitizing communication. One of my favorite stories is the reaction of an administrator when I demonstrated how to contact family members and staff through Carefeed when an employee tested positive for Covid. The process formerly involved calling every family member and employee individually, then having to chart it. When I showed her how to alert residents, family and staff via text, email or voicemail at the click of button, and how this process fully integrates with EHR so there is no need to chart, she started crying and said “You have no idea how much time you're going to save me.” It just underscores the amount of pressure these heroes are under.
These integrations make life easier and save time, but Carefeed also has compliance solutions that save money, like automatic compliance to state and federal regulations. Communities can be cited and fined for overlooking these mundane tasks.
Nancy: Let's segue to the family side. Tell us about what you're doing with your new Carefeed family portal.
Terry: A lot of our products come from existing clients. We got a call from a COO of a multi-chain operation saying, “I just got my phone bill from our communities and there were 3,000 phone calls, 2,000 of which went unanswered.” I thought, there has to be a way for families to get answers to their questions without having to call and talk to staff. So we created a portal where families can check activity calendars and menus, securely chat—even check their loved ones vitals. It’s all about connectivity. It’s one of our products that covers both the yin and yang we spoke about earlier.
Six months ago we would never even be having these conversations, but families’ expectations are rising and communities willingness to share helps them from a marketability perspective. The last two years have been really difficult and so any way you can promote trust and transparency is at the forefront.
Nancy: Carefeed just secured three million dollars of financing. Tell us about accelerating the adoption of the platform in senior living and skilled nursing. What plans can you share?
Terry: We have a robust roadmap based on client requests, so our suite of solutions will absolutely expand. Carefeed’s solutions are transferable to other care settings, and a lot of our clients own behavioral health clinics, or have a hospice or a home health company. But zeroing in on helping post-acute care settings is the game plan. The post-acute care setting is our niche, along with skilled nursing, assisted living, memory care and independent living. We have a great footprint there, but obviously we want to expand that as well.
Nancy: Well, you've got a lot on your plate, Terry. What gets you most excited these days?
Terry: When you read the papers or watch the news, there's lots of negativity out there. I see hiring freezes or layoffs or companies rescinding offers. What excites me is at Carefeed we are doubling our staff, we are hiring, we have an amazing team building amazing products to make lives easier.