Lisa Williams employs about 200 home-care specialists working with about 250 seniors in New Brunswick, and she needs a digital solution that will help her communicate with them. She expects to have one soon – one that her company Unicare Home Health Care Inc. is developing.
Based in Miramichi, N.B., Unicare provides home-care services in several communities in the province. And Williams has just gone through the Propel ICT Launch program, with the goal of developing a business around the digital solution her company is creating.
“I’m a home-care operator, and right now there is no real way to know what’s going on in a home,” said Williams in an interview on Tuesday. “So, we’ve developed a database and backend office solution to help with that and there’s a communication piece.”
Williams was scheduled to present the innovation at the Propel Demo Day on Tuesday night in Fredericton. However, the organizers had to cancel the event due to freezing rain.
Unicare is a bit of an outlier in the tech community as the digital product is being developed within a traditional business. The story began in 2008 when Williams began her home-care business, which helps senior citizens who need support but wish to live in their own homes. The company now has operations in Miramichi, the Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst, Campbellton, and Moncton.
One problem that Williams encountered as she grew her business was that no digital product existed that met the specific needs of her industry. To use digital aids, she said, she had to link together a series of different solutions.
Two-and-a-half years ago, she set out to develop a product that she and other home-care operators could use. Hiring her own developers, she has built a solution that should be ready by the end of February. It will handle administrative functions like payroll and scheduling, but what’s really key to Williams’ operations is its communications function.
Williams said the software will work off a mobile device and allow real-time communications between the care-giver, the Unicare office, health care professionals and the client. The product will likely feature voice-to-text communications to allow ease of use, and there will also be on-screen forms that can show what tasks have been carried out.
Unicare plans to pilot the product at its own facilities, starting in the spring, then sell the product into a larger market. Williams has relationships with several other home-care organizations in New Brunswick, and she hopes some of them will serve at early adopters. She also plans to apply to the Build in Canada Program, in which the federal government adopts Canadian-made technology, to get the product used outside the region.
With the population aging across North America, Williams sees a huge market and a strong social benefit because the solution can help the elderly avoid having to move into assisted-care facilities.
“It’s quite a large market,” said Williams. “In North America, there are 14 million people in long-term care and it could be passed on to other areas – to anyone on a care plan.”
Disclosure: Propel ICT is a client of Entrevestor.