Caregiver startup CareLinx acquired by Generali Global Assistance

By Jonah Comstock
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Generali Global Assistance, the US division of Europ Assistance Group, has acquired CareLinx, a seven-year-old digital health startup that offers a matching service for families and caregivers. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.

“From the Generali perspective, we really believe we’re acquiring a unique asset with a competitive advantage of the nationwide caregivers as opposed to the traditional model,” Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, said in a statement. “And all the dynamics are perfect for growing this business and helping the senior market evolve. So it’s not just that seniors want to stay at home, the dynamics and the economics are pushing the market toward the lower cost environment, which is the home, and we think the CareLinx model provides a unique opportunity because it’s perfectly positioned to deliver those sorts of opportunities.”

Generali has several assistance-related businesses in the US and overseas, including a travel assistance and roadside assistance business. CareLinx will be incorporated as its own elderly assistance business and will retain its full team, office, and brand.

“We’re super impressed with what Sherwin [Sheik, CEO of CareLinx] and his team have built, not only with the team but also the brand,” Carnicelli said. “So we’re very happy to keep the full team and the brand.”

CareLinx is one of a handful of VC-backed companies focused on connecting families with home caregivers — others include Honor, HomeTeam, and HomeHero, which was forced to shut down its business earlier this year and now operates in a new space under the name Harvey. While all those companies focused on the same problem, CareLinx approached it differently — which, Sheik says, helped attract the attention of not only Generali but a number of the company’s health plan and provider customers.

“The main difference between our model and their models is we’re a marketplace, whereas they are traditional agencies with their own tech staff. They basically employ all these caregivers, which is very costly and makes the unit economics hard to operate,” he told MobiHealthNews. “[At CareLinx,] we set up families as the direct employer of record and then, similar to ADP, we manage all the payroll, taxes, W2 issuance, on behalf of the patient and the caregiver. That allows us to have a nationwide network of 200,000 caregivers on our platform versus competitors who are struggling with about 1,000 caregivers on staff. Unless you are an employer on the scale of Cisco Systems it’s hard to compete with CareLinx’s model.”

That struggle of employing so many caregivers is exactly what forced HomeHero to shut down after a change in California’s labor laws. Sheik says CareLinx ended up taking on a lot of HomeHero’s clients in the aftermath, with the blessing of HomeHero cofounders Kyle Hill and Mike Townsend.

CareLinx has also been moving recently toward offering tools for payers and providers in addition to families. And the technology has grown to include digital care plans and remote patient monitoring, not just a matching service for caregivers and patients.

“Instead of relying on self-reporting of patients with chronic conditions, […] what we’re doing is we’re really helping health systems to better take care of their patients post-discharge,” Sheik said. “So we have a caregiver that’s basically given a digital care plan that’s customized by disease state and it tells the caregiver exactly what to do. When we’re in the home we capture discreet, relevant, clinical information that we use algorithms to send to care management teams to identify points for early intervention.”

Generali has resources, including a 24-hour nurse call line and doctors on staff, that will allow CareLinx to expand some of these new offerings even further. Also, because the company is international, the plan is to eventually facilitate an expansion of CareLinx overseas as well.

“The main takeaway here is Generali and CareLinx really believe that more and more of healthcare delivery is going to be transitioning from the facility-based, inpatient setting to — given physician shortages not just in the US but globally — to a lot more healthcare [being] delivered into the home,” Sheik said. “Really what we’re doing with the backing of Generali is building that ability for insurance companies and providers to extend beyond the facility walls and really provide healthcare into the home, which they currently can’t do.”