The Beacon: Startups focus on better aging

Can you imagine a pair of glasses that can brighten and enlarge whatever you happen to be reading or looking at, responding to your voice commands? Or can you imagine a phone app that summons a trained driver in a wheelchair-accessible van to take you to a doctor’s appointment? Or can you visualize the difference it would make to an Alzheimer’s patient if his caregivers had instant access to his life story, where they could learn about his favorite music, have access to family photos, and better understand what soothes him?

Well, imagine no more. All these innovations — and many others equally valuable — are actually here, thanks to the creativity and hard work of entrepreneurs focusing on the needs of older adults and those with disabilities. Eight products and services, and their inventors, were in Washington’s Chinatown last month, competing in the Aging 2.0 “pitch event” at the AARP Hatchery (its in-house idea-generating center). The annual competition draws competitors from all over the world to major cities, where pitch events like this select the best candidates to move forward to the national round, which will be held this November in San Francisco.

Summoning transportation

RoundTrip, the startup selected “fan-favorite” at the D.C. pitch, offers an online system that connects patients with on-demand, non-emergency medical transportation. Examples include medically-accessible sedans, wheelchair-accessible vehicles and stretcher vehicles.

Though the company is based in Philadelphia, Pa., it operates across the U.S., including in the Washington metro area. Part of the service is geared to healthcare facilities. “Our Care Coordinator application allows hospitals and healthcare facilities to order medical transportation for patients in less than 60 seconds and without ever having to pick up a phone,” said Ankit Mathur, CIO of RoundTrip.

The developers were inspired out of their frustration with the current system. “For years we’ve been witnessing issues with patients missing or [experiencing] delayed care due to transportation issues,” he said. Then there’s also the matter of wasted resources. “Medical transportation companies average a 35 percent utilization rate. For every ten-hour shift that a medical vehicle is on the road, only 3.5 hours are spent transporting patients,” Mathur said.

Using RoundTrip’s DriverAPP, patients and healthcare workers can auto-dispatch the credentialed, trained and certified driver closest to them. The app also gives the driver applicable health information about the patient. Care coordinators can monitor the patients’ trip progress and location in real-time using the web portal. RoundTrip offers curbside pickup for non-medical transportation through its national partnership with the ridesharing service Lyft. They also offer “an easy-to-use booking portal to schedule and monitor medical transportation for their patients,” Mathur added. For more information, visit roundtrip.docker.

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