Consumer review website Aged Care Reviews has raised $600,000 in funding as it banks on the Australian aged care market continuing to trend towards a user pays system.
The federal government passed legislation last year which asked individuals to take more responsibility for their own aged care. Those reforms included a basic daily price that covers living costs and for some an accommodation payment price agreed with the home.
Aged Care Reviews co-founder and chief executive officer Kenneth Ray says those reforms mean that consumers will be more considered than ever before when looking to make a decision on where to send themselves or their loved ones.
The Aged Care Reviews platform is a searchable database of both live-in and at-home aged care services. Users plug the region they would like to search for services and are presented with a list for what’s available. The database is kept up to date thanks to an agreement with myagedcare.gov.au, a website run by the Department of Social Services. Users can leave reviews and ratings, or use the ratings themselves to help them decide which facility or service to choose. Since launch in January 2014 the site has compiled just under 1000 reviews.
“What we’re really about is educating people about the market. The health and aged care industries are not consumer-centric, but very much compliance focused,” Ray says.
“The entire landscape of aged care is changing, with recent government policy moving to create a market-based industry. The industry is quickly becoming user pays, with the government’s own Productivity Commission acknowledging an ‘information asymmetry between aged care buyers and sellers’.”
Currently, aged care facilities pay a subscription fee to engage with users on the platform and add things like photos and additional information to their profiles. Users are able to request tours through the platform, but are unable to purchase accommodation directly.
Ray says the startup doesn’t plan on becoming involved in the selling process, like insurance comparison website iSelect, which allows users to buy insurance directly from its site, but rather its value will be in the insights it can offer to aged care providers.
“We’ll be moving towards analytics, collecting a lot of data on aged care facilities, about what they’re doing well and what they’re not,” he says.
“We use ‘big data’ principles to provide families of aged care residents, and aged care operators, with a continual stream of consumer insights to allow better decisions to be made – for both buyer and sellers.”
The $600,000 the startup has raised so far is part of a larger Series A round in which the startup is aiming to raise $1.4 million. That capital will be used to develop an end-to-end platform that will enable users to book tours with facilities and providers to manage those interactions, provide data insights, and to develop and launch a smartphone app.