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Tech Startups Make Waves at the NIC Technology Innovation Challenge

InnovationChallenge_Icon1maroon-01-1What happens when TV’s Shark Tank meets the NIC National Conference? A sea change for the seniors housing and care industry.

This year’s NIC National Conference served up the NIC Technology Innovation Challenge, a new program feature that took inspiration from the Shark Tank television show. Four technology startups were given four minutes each to pitch new products and services designed for the seniors housing and care industry. A panel of judges then questioned each presenter on the product’s ability to be practical, relevant, and scalable and presented a $1,000 award for their favorite.

D2_TechChallenge_02Unlike the TV show, the judges were not investors, said challenge host Stephen Johnston, co-founder of Aging 2.0, but well-known senior care providers who “are representing the future of senior living”:

  • Davis Park, director of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing
  • Ginna Baik, Strategic Business Development Executive for CDW-Healthcare
  • Joe Steier, President and CEO of Signature HealthCARE
  • Tom Grape, Chairman and CEO of Benchmark Senior Living

Audience members also had the opportunity to question presenters at the end of the challenge and vote for their favorite solution via their mobile devices. Beyond the prizes and bragging rights, the goal of the challenge, said Johnston, was to explore the “ideas and solutions that are going to help change the face of aging in the nation in 10 years.”

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Judges’ Pick CareLinx Transforms the Caregiver Marketplace

Judges awarded Sherwin Sheik, president and CEO of CareLinx, the top prize of $1,000.

With 90% of seniors preferring to age at home, how do you manage the delivery of qualified in-home care? That’s the problem CareLinx sets out to solve. The nation’s largest caregiver marketplace, CareLinx empowers families to easily find, hire, manage, and pay caregivers who match their specific needs and budgets online. It enables senior living operators to provide home care services outside their facilities via a nationwide caregiver network without having to invest millions in hiring, training, managing, and retaining a caregiver workforce.

“With caregivers being at a shortage because of the ‘silver tsunami’ and all the seniors we have to support,” said panel judge Ginna Baik during the challenge, “I love the fact that there’s a problem-solving solution leveraging technology…to transform the experience of finding caregivers.”

Audience Favorite SingFit Uses Music as Medicine

“Feel the neurons!” said Andy Tubman, co-founder and chief of therapeutics and music, as the audience sang Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” through SingFit, a digitized music therapy process for brain training. The audience chose SingFit as its favorite of the four products presented during the Innovation Challenge.

Singing is “a whole brain workout,” said Tubman during his presentation. SingFit combines proprietary software with scalable, music therapist designed programing, resulting in effective, engaging, person-centered mind/body programs for groups and individuals that translate into quantifiably happier, healthier residents and greater family satisfaction. Designed specifically for the senior care industry, SingFit PRIME and SingFit SESSIONS are a turnkey, evidenced-based active music programs, which allows existing staff to provide a higher quality of care for residents of Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing communities.

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Using Technology to Deliver Care

Also presenting at the Innovation Challenge was Mike Eldsaune, co-founder and CEO of CareMonster, a mobile app that proves “caregiving doesn’t have to be a scary thing.” The app is dedicated to transforming the caregiving experience for both the caregivers and their loved ones by helping family members schedule and track visits, keep track of caregiving checklists, and share news and condition updates with other users.

Anita Sekar, director of business development, presented on behalf of CarePort. CarePort is a technology platform used by hospitals and health systems to optimize post-acute outcomes. It’s used by hundreds of post-acute providers to track patient outcomes across the continuum.

While each of the four startups use technology to solve different problems, said panel judge Davis Park, “they all are addressing that one piece of a larger issue, which is how we help our communities age with dignity.” 


  Watch the video of the presentations here: