Avanlee Care has teamed up with a national retail company to allow families in certain markets to order groceries, health or pharmacy products through its caregiver support mobile app.
Beginning in February, the app also will include curated shopping lists specific to seniors’ health needs, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium or diabetic-friendly groceries, or post-surgery support and adaptive equipment. The name of the retailer is undisclosed.
Founded by CEO Avanlee Christine and Chief Technology Officer Chris Monson, Avanlee Care came on the scene in 2022 with a mobile app designed to support family caregivers for seriously ill patients. The app enables caregivers to track medication needs, coordinate doctor’s appointments and manage private communication among family and friends, among other tasks, according to the company.
Christine said her drive to establish Avanlee grew out of her personal experience with caregiving.
“Starting when I was 10, I watched my mother and my aunts care for my grandfather before he passed, and that was pre-iPads and iPhones. I know how burdensome it is for the caregivers,” Christine told Hospice News. “What they need is just one simple-to-use application, where all the adults siblings can communicate on care.”
As the number of chronically ill seniors grows, more of their families are stepping up as caregivers. But even for the most ready and willing among them face severe emotional, logistical and financial burdens.
Annually, nearly 53 million people in the United States assist family members or other loved ones in maintaining health, quality of life, and independence due to aging, disability, or a chronic health condition, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL).
Roughly three-quarters of them spend upwards of $7,200 annually for costs related to caring for loved ones, AARP reported. For many, this amounts to 26% of their income. Around 30% of caregivers cover rent or mortgage payments for their loved ones, while 17% pay for medical costs, AARP reported. Caregivers also lose income due to missed work days.
Compounding the issue is that nearly 20% of unpaid caregivers are elderly, frail, or chronically ill themselves, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Without these caregivers, fewer seniors would be able to age in place or receive hospice care in their homes, driving up health care costs and placing more strain on the system. Replacing the work of family caregivers with paid services would cost an estimated $470 billion each year, ACL indicated.
At its inception, Avanlee received a jumpstart when their lead angel investor, Esther Dyson, handed Christine a check for $50,000 in seed money on a bench in New York City’s Washington Square Park. A seasoned investor, Dyson has backed more than 250 companies from a range of industries.
In total, Avanlee has now raised millions of dollars from angel investors, including Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) Chairman David Jones.
Christine anticipates that working with the retailer will springboard further growth.
“We met with [the retail company] during COVID, and I said, ‘Listen, we are right now just a mom-and-pop startup. We’ve raised some seed funding, but I have the intention that this company could be the go-to platform for family caregivers throughout the world,” Christine said. “It’s going to be a really unique opportunity for us to get in front of the caregivers coming into the store.”
Among the company’s next steps is to explore pilot collaborations with Medicare Advantage plans. The pilots currently in motion will cover as many as 2,000 beneficiaries as health plans work to support aging in place, address social determinants of health and reduce facility-based utilization.
“These Medicare Advantage members would be using the Avanlee app to remain at home, independent, and engage their family as part of it. Because one of the things the health plans said to us was, ‘It’s so unique to have the ability to get the families super involved with the senior, which in turn, makes things better for them in the home,’” Christine told Hospice News. “Then we are getting ready to work with some employers to offer this as a benefit to their employees.”