Care Mates 1 © Copyright: CareMates
15 December 2023

These are familiar headlines that keep doing the rounds: A shortage of skilled labour in the healthcare sector, an ageing population, and the risk of burnout among care workers. If you take a closer look at the forecasts in the care sector, the question quickly arises: How can we overcome this challenge?

A unique project from the Digital Product School (DPS) is setting a positive example here.CareMatesshows how artificial intelligence can make the day-to-day work of many carers easier.

The Challenges Facing the Care Sector

The number of people in need of care, which still stood at five million in 2021, is expected to rise by 37% by 2055, according to the care forecast by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). One of the reasons for this is demographic change. This describes the change in the composition of the population. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, the most serious consequence is the increasing number of elderly people and those in need of care.

These forecasts are causing concern not only among the population but also in the organisations that provide care. Caritas is one of these organisations. It offers a comprehensive range of help for people in need. Within this framework, 25,000 outpatient and inpatient facilities are run by Caritas. It is therefore, one of the most important players in the social and healthcare system. Carmen Zeller, Manager of Innovative Business Development in Social Work at Caritas, reports on significant problems and challenges: More carers are needed, she says, as the often stressed employees tend to have a high burnout rate. It is hard to believe that statistics show that the number of people employed in care facilities has risen slightly in recent years. Nevertheless, the lack of acceptance of the profession in society, as well as the familiar daily companions such as stress and lack of time, do not contribute to an improved perception of the job.

On a typical working day, around 3/5 of a carer's time is spent on documentation. The administrative burden of admitting new patients in an already stressful and overburdened working environment increases the risk of mental illness enormously. As a result, the number of sick days also increases. Caritas wants to counteract this and has turned to the Digital Product School with its challenge: "Wouldn't it be great if our nursing staff had to spend less time on documentation and therefore had more time for their patients again?".

Digitalisation of the Recording Process

Dylan, Johannes, Michael, Pablo and Sunny joined the DPS and started this project together.

For a person's new admission to a care facility, the carer has to schedule around five working hours. If there are several admission requests per week, this can take up to 25 working hours. The problem here is the time required and the associated costs. This is because staff costs of up to €46,800 per year can be incurred for admission to a facility.

Having started as a team and now grown into a start-up, CareMates is eliminating the time-consuming admission process with its solution. Digitising the admission process with the help of artificial intelligence not only improves care but also saves up to four hours per patient. This means that nursing staff can use 80% more time to care for people, and the facility can save up to €37,440 per year with the help of CareMates.

When the person needing care is admitted, the software records the data. Based on a user-friendly digital intake form, it shows which services the person requires and which risks need to be considered. With just one click, a personalised care plan with a cost estimate and the necessary contract documents can be created automatically. Usually, the care plan is created when the person is admitted and should be updated regularly. In reality, there is often not enough time to make adjustments, and outdated care plans remain in place. With the new CareMates solution, this process can be simplified. The state of health is checked regularly and entered into the system. As a result, the care plan automatically adapts to the corresponding care requirements. This means that everyone receives the care they need.

Partnership at Eye Level

The Digital Product School is an innovation programme run by UnternehmerTUM. Closely supported by mentors and experts, various teams develop innovative digital solutions to current challenges that positively impact our lives together.

CareMates was supported in this project by Caritas, the Digital Product School, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). In addition to talent, motivation and the proper methodological knowledge, resources are also needed. In the very recent cooperation with DPS, AWS provided the team with intensive support in terms of technical resources, funding and engineering. According to co-founder Dylan, it felt like a genuine partnership of equals.

The Possibilities of an Innovation Centre

In the future, CareMates would like to develop its solution further so that other care services can also minimise their time on documentation and focus on the essential things in their day-to-day work.

In the DPS programme, the team was able to identify a problem and find a solution. Now they are continuing to prepare for market entry. In the UnternehmterTUM XPLORE programme, teams are intensively prepared for this and clarify these questions, among others:

- How do I find access to potential customers?

- What financing options are available, and which suits my start-up?

- How do I behave correctly when dealing with customers?

- How and where can I build prototypes?

CareMates had the perfect environment in the current batch to develop their idea and thus take a further step towards market entry. They have already been able to introduce their software to 23 facilities and have received feedback that ten out of eleven carers would also like to use the software in the future. What's next for the team? We will report back and wish them every success!

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