“How can we increase independence of dementia patients, and at the same time, be a helping hand to their caregivers?”
Today, more than 5.4 million people suffer from dementia in the United States alone. This debilitating disease is pervasive and far reaching in its impact. This places an extraordinary burden on both patients and their caregivers. We propose a solution that would extend independence of early stage dementia patients, and help reduce burden on their caregivers. Because transportation is the primary cause of dependency for patients and stress for caregivers, we propose a transportation service that is specially tailored to the needs of dementia patients and their caregivers.
Strategic Innovation, Service Design, User Experience
Scott Cowell, Tyler Gumb, and Me
I contributed equally during idea generation, concept development, user research, and product development. Additionally, I performed market research and financial planning, and developed MVP.
We used the following research methods to gain understanding of the needs of dementia patients and their caregivers.
- Literature review
- User survey
- Interviews of patients and caregivers
- Interviews of medical professionals
- Market research
- Today, 5.4 million people suffer from dementia in the US alone.
- In 2015, an average caregiver spent more than 1,200 hours in unpaid care. They were also forced to work additional jobs, extend work hours, and postpone retirement.
- In the US, more than 40% caregivers face this challenge alone, as they have little to no support network for assistance.
- Nearly 60% caregivers reported having high levels of day-to-day stress.
- We thus consider both the patients and the caregivers as our target users.
There is a progressive loss of functions as dementia develops. Since we want to increase independence of the patients, and later stages of dementia anyway require institutional care or full-time assistance, we decided to focus on patients in pre and mild stages of dementia. Based on our research, we identified that transportation is the primary need that creates dependence in the early stages.
Market comparison in the images (left, below) shows the the current landscape of transportation services available to dementia patients.
- Public transit is the only option available for most people due to its low cost. But for dementia patients, it is essentially impossible to use as walking to and from stops is risky.
- Publicly subsidized paratransit services are cheap but you have to schedule them in advance. Also, they are only available during working hours, and you have to apply and be evaluated to be eligible.
- Uber has a reasonable price point, but it is not customized for people with dementia. The drivers are also not prepared to handle their special needs.
- Non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) is equipped for taking care of dementia patients, but it is expensive and inconvenient.
Based on this research, we see an opportunity for a convenient, reasonably priced service that is equipped to handle the needs and safety concerns of people with dementia.
Our solution, CARes, is a service that provides on-demand transportation, similar to Uber, but tailored to the needs of dementia patients and their caregivers.
Keeping caregivers always in the loop is pivotal to our idea. So CARes enables caregivers to book rides for their loved ones, and remain stress-free throughout the journey due to door-to-door service, tracking, and video monitoring.
For the patients, familiarity is extremely important. CARes thus allows video communication between patients and their caregivers through a tablet installed in the car. We also offer a subscription service that assigns the same driver to a patient for multiple trips, which can help the patients also get familiar to their drivers over time.