DUOS, a digital health company on a mission to increase the longevity and independence of older adults, announced today a $15 million Series A funding led by Imaginary Ventures, along with participation from existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Declaration Partners, and new investor Optum Ventures.
Older adults are facing a two-pronged crisis. First, approximately 10,000 American adults are turning 65+ each day. The entire Baby Boomer generation will be over age 65 by 2030, meaning 1 in 5 Americans will be of retirement age. Also, fifty-one percent of older adults have at least one unmet fundamental social need around areas such as transportation, food, or housing. These problems will only continue to accelerate as the older adult demographic grows.
Second, the number of unpaid family caregivers in the United States increased by nearly 10 million people between 2015 and 2020 to 54 million. DUOS is a solution for lifting a significant portion of the burden of these caregivers, who are often part of the “Sandwich Generation,” taking care of both young children and aging parents.
DUOS addresses these problems with its unique “System of Aging.” The System of Aging uses a mix of technology and the human touch to connect older adults and their caretakers to a network of service providers to help members with their social needs, care navigation needs, and physical aging needs – enabling older adults to receive transportation, food delivery, healthcare appointments and a multitude of additional services. Through interpersonal communication and technology, DUOS identifies and addresses the individual needs of older adults by leveraging Medicare benefits, trusted partners, and local service providers. Each member is also assigned a “Duo,” a dedicated person responsible for facilitating the System, providing companionship, and making sure tasks are complete.
The company’s Series A funding will drive technology advancements and hiring to support the company’s aggressive growth plans. “This investment milestone is significant for DUOS as it allows us to power new technology that will enhance everyday experiences for older adults and their caregivers,” said Karl Ulfers, CEO and Co-Founder of DUOS. “The world is short on people, and this technology will help scale our services to millions of individuals across the country.”
“Imaginary is incredibly excited to partner with the DUOS team to empower aging adults,” said Kelly Dill, Partner, Imaginary Ventures. “We have always been hyper-focused on solving consumer problems, and DUOS is working to solve one of the biggest of our generation. The DUOS team brings deep healthcare expertise with a hyper focus on the end consumer they are serving. We think this consumer-fueled approach creates an exceptional experience tailored to the needs of aging adults.”
To make DUOS accessible to as many people as possible, it has already partnered with health insurance plans including Magellan Healthcare, Geisinger Health Plan, and other national and regional payors and providers in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Georgia. The company plans to announce additional partnerships in 2022. For its partners, DUOS is closing gaps in care, improving targeted HEDIS measures, and driving member satisfaction, which is timely since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently doubled the impact of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey results from 2x to 4x within a health plan’s overall Star Rating, making member experience one of the most significant contributors to a health plan’s overall Star Rating.
“Magellan Healthcare is committed to transforming the healthcare experience through high-tech and high-touch solutions that complement the human touch brought by Magellan to address whole-person healthcare–life, mind and body,” said Caroline Carney, M.D., Magellan Healthcare’s President of Behavioral Health and Chief Medical Officer of Magellan Health. “Our early work with DUOS shows successful identification of and interventions for needs expressed by older adults, and very high levels of satisfaction. This is a very promising tool supporting our work in providing holistic care for those suffering from social isolation.”
With older adults using technology more than ever, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, DUOS is in the process of building an easy-to-use app that can anticipate member needs and connect the members’ caregiving circle. The app will streamline communication and task management and tap into a curated marketplace of partners for everyday needs. Members will have the option of communicating with their Duo in person, over the phone, or through the app.
To meet the growing demand for DUOS, which is available in all 50 states via its direct-to-consumer offering, part of the Series A funding will be dedicated to hiring engineers, product managers, operations experts, and marketers who are passionate about helping older adults and caregivers. In addition, DUOS plans to hire and train over 100 Duos to serve individual members as more partnerships roll out across the U.S. in 2022.