Choosing health care providers can be confusing, especially during emergencies when patients do not have the time to fully learn about every provider and service. However, a local mother-son duo is developing a mobile app that will help patients make more informed decisions about where they receive health care when they need it most.
Ashley Barrow, who has 15 years of nurse case management experience in transitioning thousands of individuals from acute to post-acute care, came up with the idea after one of her family members was on dialysis went to rehab after a leg amputation. The experience opened her eyes to how overwhelming it can be for patients and their families to make health care decisions during an extremely stressful time.
“I was trying to help her navigate through different healthcare options while considering her age in addition to social barriers that we needed to address. This made it hard to choose from the paper list. We were unsure of what the different rehabs really meant for her recovery,” Barrow says, adding that there are so many aspects to consider of health care, such as people living longer, unfamiliar hospitals and an overwhelming abundance of health care resources. “It’s so confusing for individuals to think through this process when they are in a healthcare crisis.”
Barrow said the app, called RE-Assist will help people become more engaged and make informed decisions about their health care. During transitions of care, patients or family of patients may get a paper list of resources or hospitals for their future health care needs.
“We want to replace that paper list with technology,” Barrow says.
Barrow said the app will include information such as reviews, contact information, certified staff, accepted insurance and more details to help.
“These people are already in crisis,” she says. “We want to eliminate the confusion and provide an educated choice.”
Barrow’s 11-year-old son, Aaron, is handling the technical side. Aaron, who Barrow describes as a “tech guy,” has helped his mother with various computer programs in the past.
“He’s always been really special at that,” Barrow says, adding that the pre-teen developed the early prototype of the app. Barrow says Aaron was thorough with app development, constantly asking his mother about various user screens and identifying what prototyping features were best.
“The way he talks about it,” Barrow says. “You would think that he would have been trained, but that’s just his personality.
RE-Assist was selected in the Spring 2021 cohort of the NKU SoCap Accelerate program. The SoCap Accelerate program, which started in 2020, works to provide social capital for developing health care products and businesses. The program is a joint partnership between Northern Kentucky University, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Durr Foundation, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Economic Development Administration.
SoCap officials raved about the potential RE-Assist has for the Cincinnati area.
“It’s all about choice with them,” said Rico Grant, executive director of SoCap Accelerate. “And leveraging that choice to find the best patient care for yourself and your loved one.”
Following completion of the six-week program, Barrow was grateful for the resources SoCap gave her.
“They’re very much about making sure solutions are surrounded by this region to make sure our people here are taken care of,” Barrow says of the SoCap program. “It’s just very exciting to know other people that believe in what you’re doing and to see the benefit of that.”
Barrow said the app is currently in the prototyping stage with a tentative release date scheduled for fall 2021.