About one in five Americans are unpaid family caregivers, an experience that often comes with confusion and emotional burden. Superior HealthPlan, a Texas subsidiary of Centene, aims to reduce that burden for its members by expanding its relationship with eFamilyCare, an online family caregiving service, the payer announced Wednesday.
New York City-based eFamilyCare offers an app that caregivers can use to connect with care advisers via chat or video. This adviser can provide coaching, help caregivers find services and collaborate with providers.
Superior HealthPlan launched a pilot program with eFamilyCare in 2022 for members in STAR Health, its Medicaid program for children in foster care, and STAR+Plus, a health plan for those aged 65 and older and adults who have disabilities. More than 200 members were enrolled in the pilot. Through the newly expanded partnership, eFamilyCare is available to those in CHIP, STAR (the regular Medicaid program), STAR+Plus or STAR Health. The expanded partnership also includes care gap information, which notifies caregivers of when the person they’re caring for needs to go in for check-ins or labs and helps make sure they can schedule an appointment and get to the appointment.
The health plan was initially looking for support for its foster care kids, said Tracy Rico, virtual care director of Superior. She was struck by eFamilyCare’s ability to help caregivers via text or video and provide them with tools to improve their caregiving abilities.
“I have been a caregiver for someone who’s been sick before … There was nobody standing around going, ‘Hey, how do I help you understand what’s happening? How do I help you support this person? How do I help you learn some self-care techniques so you can remain able to support this other person?’ It’s the airline concept, making sure you wear the mask first … [eFamilyCare] was used to supporting the older populations and I was used to supporting the younger populations,” Rico said. “So we came together and went, ‘Let’s do both.’”
The pilot received promising results, leading them to expand the partnership, the companies said. In a follow-up survey with those in the pilot program, all of the members said their caregiver was responsive to their needs. Another 91% said they were “highly satisfied” with eFamilyCare. Additionally, 64% of STAR Health members received access to behavioral health resources, 45% of STAR+PLUS members gained access to home care services and 30% of participants were given transportation services.
“One thing that is very important is that caregivers are under a lot of stress,” said Dr. Eric Rackow, co-founder and CEO of eFamilyCare. “They’re caregiving, they don’t have the experience with training, they need support. Anxiety is high and depression is common. We found as a major outcome that the caregiver stress was reduced.”
Rackow added that providing support to family caregivers is vital as the healthcare industry progressively moves to home health.
“In terms of the future, it’s important for payers, for providers to think beyond the patient … What else do we need to do to support a patient in their home? One of the things we need to do is support family caregivers,” he said. “They’re going to be a critical part of the healthcare system in an age when we want to move care to the home.”
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