Welcome to Bridge the Gap with hosts Josh Crisp and Lucas McCurdy. A podcast dedicated to inform, educate and influence the future of housing and services for seniors. Bridge the Gap aims to help shape the culture of the senior living industry by being an advocate and a positive voice of influence which drives quality outcomes for our aging population.
Bridge The Gap

Leveraging Care for Smarter Care with Co-Founder Raj Mehra

On a mission to address challenges in the senior living industry, CEO & CO-Founder of Sage, Raj Mehra, discusses how his company’s utilization of collected data will face these challenges head-on.


How do you make sure resident care is what you would want if you have a family member in one of these communities?

Raj Mehra

Guest on This Episode

Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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I felt that it was so valuable to use technology to influence outcomes for care.

Quick Overview of the Podcast

On a mission to address challenges in the senior living industry, CEO & CO-Founder of Sage, Raj Mehra, discusses how his company’s utilization of collected data will face these challenges head-on.

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This episode was recorded at the ASHA Annual Meeting. 

Produced by Solinity Marketing.

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Welcome to season seven of Bridge the Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by Sponsors, Accushield Aline NIC Map Vision, ProCare HR, Sage, Hamilton CapTel, ServiceMaster, Patriot Angels, the Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.

Lucas 00:54:

Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the Senior Living podcast with Josh and Lucas here in Miami. A beautiful day. Winter in Miami is very comfortable as opposed to some of the other places that we're all from. We'd like to welcome a special guest today, Raj from Sage. Welcome to the show.

Raj 01:11:

Thank you for having me. Great to be here in Miami from seven degrees in New York.

Lucas 01:16:

Yes. Well, you know, normally I kind of live more southern central in the Dallas area. It's been freezing cold there. Knoxville just got some huge snow and of course New York is very cold. So what do we got 80 degrees here in Miami today. It's a beautiful day and we're having amazing conversations. And so Raj, very interesting uh, to get to know you and understand you. We know Lindsay at your company, a great advocate, longtimer in the industry. How did all of this get started with you developing Sage?

Raj 01:45:

My background's been mostly tech startups. So I ended up for the last 15 years, built a few different companies. Prior to Sage, I was part of the founding team of what is now the largest healthcare payments company serving hospitals. Before that, I started out in the data science side. So worked with a company called Palantir, which is now the largest data science companies to help start their healthcare practice. And there we worked with large hospitals, payers early on to help them analyze data to improve care outcomes operations. And doing that made me kind of committed to healthcare as an entity because I felt that it was so valuable to use technology to actually make the lives of operators as well as folks influencing outcomes for care. That was what I wanted to commit my rest of my career to and use data and technology to help.

Raj 02:36:

In terms of senior living specifically, it was personal, right. So in 2019, my grandmother, she passed away from a fall. She fell, she was on the ground for about six hours. What I reflected on after her passing was the fact that the technology and infrastructure that was built for hospitals and payers, like there could be technology applications for senior living and aging. And it felt like it was a segment that was being kind of ignored in my grandmother's facilities, they were still using walkie talkies and pagers. They were using, you know, all sorts of systems that were predated. They weren't being able to use data 'cause they weren't generating data. Yeah. Like that's why I got really passionate about using my background and our founding teams background to help address some of these challenges.

Josh 03:19:

Well Raj, I couldn't be more excited to have a mind like yours. Uh, and the why behind you've joined us in the senior living industry because you know, I've often described senior living, which is now such a broad term as you know, uh, when you, when people say I'm in senior living, like you gotta tell me more. But we're kind of this mesh between hospitality meets healthcare. To have folks like yourself and technology partners that have been in the healthcare space to help deliver that to us is, is really exciting for us and to be able to share those uh, stories. So talk to us a little bit more about the specific challenges that you see in the senior living industry and how you hope to be able to develop some systems have developed some systems to help to tackle those problems.

Raj 04:04:

Yeah, so I was speaking to a owner yesterday here and you know, he was talking about what you're talking about is that historically it's been a real estate business, right? And that's great 'cause real estate businesses, you know, have really good returns. But the healthcare aspect of managing people's care as well as labor management has been really challenging for most operators. And I think part of the reason is that in this industry there aren't great technology frameworks. They're standardized to help them both manage resident care and staffing, right? And so I think the two challenges I see right now is, and right in industries seeing a lot of, you know, press in places like the New York Times, Washington Post is like how do you make sure resident care is what you would want if you have a family member in these communities and how do you make it sustainable?

Raj 04:49:

Because the folks as we know as communities are working really hard and doing their level best. So how do you use technology to leverage your current resources to make sure that everyone in the community has the best response time when the incidents happen have the best care being given to them. On the flip side, how do we enable caregivers to a, feel like they have a easier time doing their workflows and get recognition for the work they do. And I think that recognition is so important. If you're there spending 40 hours a week doing things like toileting and mobility and all these things for the residents, but no one's appreciating you, that's hard.

Josh 05:29:

Sure. Well, you know, I'm glad you talked about that. I'm also, um, while the situation that you experienced with your family member sounds like a pivotal point that kind of puts you over the edge of focusing on like, this is not a good situation, but how do I create a solution that can help with this? We're here at Asha. ASHA's been working hard as a partner to help to shape public policy and it seems like the stories that we too often hear about senior living are those that are similar to the experience you had and that's what the microscope has been on. As opposed to the flip side of what you just said, the recognition for the amazing care that is more often, that's the majority of the stories. Do you think with some of the, the tools that you're developing, um, that will address some of those challenges that hopefully prevent some of those situations that could become bad stories, do you think that's also going to help us tell a better story publicly? And I mean like where do you see your role in that and how you can be part of that?

Raj 06:37:

So I think a lot of times today it's subjective art to prove what was done. Um, even if it was done correct, I think the data is what we find is the thing that cuts through a lot of the noise. And if you're able to prove that hey, actually 90% of the time everything's going as we expected, then it makes people feel comfortable. I think before we start with large public agencies and government regulatory agencies, stuff like that. So it's family, there's going to be the 10% where things are probably not going the way we expected, but now there's visibility. So it's, again, it's not subjective to the care staff or folks that you're having these conversations with. It's very clear to what needs to improve.

Josh 07:19:

Even if perception isn't truly the majority of what happens in the industry and the communities perception is that uneducated consumer's reality. And so we have to overcome that. So one of our goals has always been here to help to share the love stories as I call it. And so, you know, I'm really excited to see what you guys do at Sage, what you are doing and be able to tell our audience and hopefully help create some more positive narratives.

Lucas 07:44:

Yeah that's right. I mean this, this seems to be um, you know, a major issue. Developing a product that gives that data and that access and that insight into care staff and their families is a really great thing.

Raj 07:58:

Yeah. And when I'd say the trip and fall is like maybe 1% of incidents, toileting, mobility, bathing, all these ADLs that need to be managed. And also folks can understand that these are hours they're being worked by the caregivers that are pretty demanding.

Josh 08:14:

Well and that's something even, you know, our industry has been strained over the last several years with labor. Yeah. Managing labor, understanding what the cost of the labor truly is. And, and it can be also, you know, daunting, uh, depending on the size of your operation. If you don't have, uh, a lot of team that has a lot of data and you know, if they don't have the time to interpret that data and then turn it into useful strategy, it can become a really difficult situation for operators that even have the best intentions. My understanding is that your tool kind of helps that. It kind of takes the, the guesswork out of all of that calculation and and the the monitoring and all that. Is that correct?

Raj 08:54:

Our view is that analyst's dashboards are great, but if you're an operators and frontline you don't have much time right now, how can we as the technology company understand where you want to focus and where your leadership wants to focus and then actually customize all the data we're seeing to proactive insights that are quite actionable. Sure. Right. And so that's our view is like if you can do as insights that you can do it through the product itself that people already use, it makes it much easier to execute.

Josh 09:22:

Talk to me a little bit about benchmarking, which is how I'd refer to it. You may have a more accurate term, but for your smaller operators often times or your regional operators to have some level of benchmarking, a measure of how I'm stacking up against community to community within my portfolio, but also as an industry. Do you foresee that Sage can be a part of helping to benchmark the industry around these data points?

Raj 09:47:

So I'm getting this request a lot from our existing client base ad perspective, client base. It was recently was like Friday we had three existing a perspective clients asked us about this on different calls. And what I'm finding is that we can play a role here, but what this is going to require is everyone opting in to data sharing in a de-identified way, right? So like we're not going to share who the operator is, but I do think in our dashboards one of the things we could do is do a reference point. Sure. Things like response time or turnovers in specific markets or care revenue, things that we help with. Those are things that we could definitely share around where the best community's doing. What are the lower percentile communities doing.

Josh 10:28:

Do you think that is even something, because as you've identified, as I've identified we talk about it, we need to be benchmarking. How important is that for us as an industry? Do you feel strongly about that, that that is something that we should be focusing on as benchmarking against ourselves and our competitors? Or is that something that hey, we're kind of missing the boat there, you really need to be focusing on this?

Raj 10:49:

Well, so I think it's two steps. One is benchmarking helps you understand and just portfolio benchmarking across your portfolio helps you understand where the outliers are, right? Your top performing buildings and maybe you really are struggling. And so it's a starting point because now you have filtration of like, hey, where do I need to focus? And then beneath that you have to start figuring out, okay, what are actually the reasons? And that's where you have to start getting deeper into the information and data around, okay, are my shifts not staff? Correct. Are there a lot of underperformers and certain shifts? Like what is underlying criteria? Sure. I think benchmarking helps you understand where to focus.

Josh 11:25:

So some root cause analysis. Would that be fair? So do you think the the system, what you have now or where it's going is going to assist operators in the root cause analysis? Or is that more of a we're going to help you benchmark and then you dive in with your operational teams? How do you see your role in fitting in in that?

Raj 11:42:

We intend to be the guiding light. So we're helping you understand holistic, how every building's performing, if you're managing a large portfolio and then as you start seeing some of your underperformers and you could rate them, right? You can figure out different criteria that we have segments and our portfolio dashboards around which ones are the most liability, right? And so as you start looking into that, it's very clear in the data areas are struggling and people who are struggling in those communities, if they're giving way too much care, but the revenue's on offsetting it, which makes the buildings struggle, you can see that, right? And then you have to work with the management around the levers, but it's not so much that hey, you just get the fact that this building is under performing but you don't know why.

Josh 12:25:

Well Lucas, as I'm hearing Raj talk about this, I know not only is all of our listeners that are actual operators, executive directors, clinical teams, ears perking up, but you know, the asset managers, the ownership groups, uh, the real estate managers that are doing their best to help the operators identify risk in the portfolio and to be able to implement some strategy to curve that there's a lot of people that already are and are going to be excited as they, as they listen to this podcast. For sure.

Lucas 12:54:

Diving deeper into this information, I know that our listeners are going to want to connect and possibly get a demo. I know that I would love to see more myself and for that information we're going to put that in our show notes. Our listeners can go to btg voice.com, connect with this content and so much more. And Raj, thank you so much for spending time today and giving these insights.

Raj 13:11:

Of course. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Lucas 13:14:

And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.


Thanks for listening to Bridge the Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.

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