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November 9, 2017

Sparking innovation for successful aging in communities

Kaiser Permanente and Village Capital are teaming up to launch Health US: 2018, a unique program focused on addressing critical economic, social and environmental issues that impact the health of aging populations. This collaboration will tap into socially minded entrepreneurs to spur development of community health innovations for successful aging.

Kaiser Permanente is a long-established leader in providing care and coverage programs for seniors. This program seeks to look even further to community-health interventions that can support an aging population. Working with Village Capital brings their expertise as a global venture capital firm that finds, trains and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems.

The major wave coming and our opportunity to serve

Between 2015 and 2060, the number of people over age 65 will double and the number of individuals over 80 will triple, according to the Population Reference Bureau, representing the largest demographic shift the U.S. has ever seen. At the same time, the price tag of retirement and aging is far beyond what most of the population can afford. Thirty-five million baby boomers on the cusp of retirement lack any retirement savings and only 27 percent think they’ll have enough money to cover health care expenses as they age. Currently, there is not an infrastructure in place to account for the millions of coming retirees.

This aging crisis will affect the poorest Americans the most. Socioeconomic status plays a large role in an individual’s health and the quality of their aging experience. Poverty increases the likelihood of a physical limitation in adults over 60, and the emotional distress of poverty contributes to physiological changes that make an individual more susceptible to depression.

Many people over the age of 65 experience social and emotional isolation and challenges handling investments and Social Security payments, or dealing with issues like transportation or meal preparation.

Against this background, Kaiser Permanente convened an “Aging Challenge Design Roundtable” with Village Capital. The roundtable brought together community leaders in providing resources for seniors, along with Kaiser Permanente leaders focused on social supports and improving care and innovations. They identified top challenges facing seniors today: creating workforce opportunities; improving social, emotional and educational support for caregivers; managing finances; and organizing affordable support services to enable aging at home.

‘Think outside the medical setting’

“We recognize the urgent need for solutions that can change the passive aging narrative and facilitate the three key components of successful aging – function, health status and social inclusion,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, chief community health officer at Kaiser Permanente. “Helping people age well requires us to think outside the medical setting. Our goal is to drive innovation that will help create the right infrastructure and environments that people need to age well and with dignity.”

Village Capital will bring their expertise to identify entrepreneurs committed to developing innovations to help address these community-related issues. Kaiser Permanente will work in collaboration with Village Capital to select the most promising ventures and provide expertise and mentorship for the workshops.

The top 10-12 ventures will be taken through three separate four-day workshops designed to strengthen their business models, leverage the collective knowledge of their fellow participating entrepreneurs, and provide tailored engagements with potential strategic partners.

Frequently, a startup’s biggest need is validation from customers and relationships with key partners to help them navigate scaling. This program serves to streamline this process, helping ventures connect with decision-makers.

At the end of the program, two of the ventures, chosen using a unique peer-selected approach, will receive initial investment capital from VilCap Investments, with the ability to commit follow-on investment to the highest-performing companies in the portfolio over time. Applications are being accepted now and the workshops will conclude by June 2018.

Focus on tech-enabled services

While all ventures with aging-related solutions are encouraged to apply, the program is especially interested in tech-enabled services that:

  • Enable aging in place
  • Create workforce opportunities for an aging population and tap into the potential of seniors
  • Plan and communicate an individual's last wishes
  • Decrease isolation and increase social engagement
  • Improve the social, emotional, and/or educational support for caregivers
  • Improve access to health services
  • Assist in managing the finances, such as paying bills and handling investments and Social Security, both for the individual as they age and/or the designated caregiver
  • Find and organize affordable, quality support services, such as transportation, caregiving, cleaning and meal preparation
  • “Kaiser Permanente is a leader in their approach to health, and we’re thrilled to be teamed up with them,” said Ross Baird, president, Village Capital. “These market-based solutions around aging have the potential to change millions of lives, and also make an attractive investment opportunity.”

    Applications to Health: US 2018 are now open through Village Capital’s website. For more information, please visit: http://vilcap.com/program/health-us-2018/