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West Michigan Tech Firm Launches Service Modeled After CarePages

September 22, 2018 – MLive, by Brian McVicar

OST Health CareCircle website screenshot sample profile

A Grand Rapids business is picking up where CarePages, the now defunct website where patients provided health updates to friends and family, has left off.

OST, a business technology and IT consulting firm, launched CareCircle earlier this month, a website modeled after CarePages that gives hospital patients the ability to share updates on a secure website rather than social medial platforms like Facebook.

The idea came from Nathan Loding, a software developer at OST who says he struggled to find an effective way to provide updates to friends and family when his daughter was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a rare disease.

“It really became difficult to call everybody, to email everybody,” he said. “You put it on Facebook, but not everyone’s on Facebook.”

CarePages closed last year.

CareCircle is a subscription-based service. Under the company’s business plan, Hospitals would pay a monthly fee to offer the service to patients. Hospitals would have the ability to customize their CareCircle website to include their logo, company colors and other promotional materials.

OST – which has about 230 employees and offices in Grand Rapids, Southfield and Minneapolis – has not yet announced any clients for CareCircle, though it says one “nationally recognized hospital system” will soon announce its use of the service.

Despite the immense popularity of Facebook and other social media platforms, company officials say hospitals are eager to offer other ways for patients to communicate with friends and family. Laura Vaughn, a product manager at OST, said her company surveyed more than a dozen hospitals and all expressed interest in the concept.

“We’re confident that CareCircle fills a void for health systems looking to expand their patient experience into the digital space,” she said.

Michael Lomonaco, OST’s director of marketing and communications, said hospitals are increasingly focused on providing a more personalized, consumer-oriented experience. And offering a tool to facilitate communication with friends and family is part of that, he said.

“The healthcare game is changing,” he said. “It’s not quite retail, but it’s not what it used to be.”

CareCircle gives users the ability to share messages and updates with a select group of people. Messages can be shared with family and close friends or a broader group, including co-workers and other acquaintances.

The site will also feature a “how you can help” feature, in which patients can list things they need, including a request for meals, company during a certain time of day, or a link to a GoFundMe page or a request for company during a certain time of day.

Vaughn acknowledged that most people are on Facebook, but said CareCirlce offers a more intimate, “focused” setting to provide health updates. Company officials also emphasized the site will be secure and doesn’t carry the concerns over data privacy that have arisen at Facebook and other tech companies.

OST officials declined to share how much revenue they need to generate to make the site viable. Vaughn said the company would like to have 10 hospitals using the service before the end of the year.

Written by Brian McVicar, education reporter for MLive.

Visit the CareCircle website