It’s the next best thing to being there

iAccompany allows busy working adults to get ailing parents safely to and from appointments

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Jeff Reitberger has first-hand experience of the challenges that adult children are increasingly encountering ensuring that their aging parents get to their medical appointments.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/02/2022 (297 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jeff Reitberger has first-hand experience of the challenges that adult children are increasingly encountering ensuring that their aging parents get to their medical appointments.

His mother-in-law had chronic disease and his wife and her sister, who work full-time, were having a hard time keeping up with the appointments as well as their professional responsibilities.

It was partly from that experience as well as a partner’s sick parent that the idea for iAccompany was hatched — an online booking platform for nurse accompaniment on medical appointments.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS iAccompany CEO Jeff Reitberger’s first-hand family experience led him and partners to develop the service to hire a caregiver to get elderly parents to and from appointments.

Reitberger, a long-time project manager in the IT sector, and his partners Byrnes Benoit, the owner of video production house Spectra Productions, and Douglas Stoyko, a veteran IT professional, believe they have come up with a model that can deliver a service where the need will only grow.

The increasing demand trajectory has a lot to do with demographics.

The first baby boomer turned 75 in 2021 and there are more than 75 million of them in North America.

With life expectancies on the rise and two-income families now the norm, adult children of aging parents are facing increasing stress, care-giver fatigue and guilt when making sure their parents get to their medical appointments.

After 18 months in development, an online booking platform and mobile app have been built and the proof of concept is in the final stages for a likely commercial launch of iAccompany in Winnipeg next month.

The company plans on rolling out the service in major cities across the country — Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto — and into a handful of cities in Florida that traditionally have sizable populations of retirees.

Reitberger said they hope to initiate a presence in Tampa or St. Petersburg, Fla. in the fourth quarter of this year and, depending on pickup and access to growth capital, to launch in a new Canadian and Florida market every year starting in 2023.

Reitberger is up front in acknowledging that not everyone is going to be able to afford the service that will likely cost about $250 per two and a half hours, which includes picking up the patient, attending the appointment, bringing the patient back home and filing an appointment report. (For liability reasons, the iAccompany model will use commercial transportation so that the nurse attending can devote full attention to the patient and so that transportation liability and insurance will not be the company’s responsibility.)

“The real client is not the aging adult,” Reitberger said. “The target market we are aiming at is the adult children between the ages of 35 and 60.”

Even more specifically, that target market is professional adult children, especially those who work in professional scenarios whose incomes are dependent on billable hours.

The offering is all about ease of use and peace of mind.

Reitberger said market research so far suggests that there will be a sizable market opportunity.

As well, there have been extensive conversations with insurance companies, all of whom have been encouraging.

“A couple of insurance-company executives said they thought it is great idea and want to talk to us in a year after we complete proof of concept and start generating revenue,” said Reitberger. “They want to see is it viable, but none of them balked about the possibility that such a service could be included in a benefits package.”

There have already been discussions about insurance companies using a similar service for clients on long-term disability.

Working with North Forge Technology Exchange, iAccompany has been talking to various “channel partners” like pharmacies, personal care homes and doctors. The company is also planning on offering referral fees to doctors and nurses who put their patients in touch with iAccompany.

The company has developed so far with the founders putting in about $100,000 of their own funds but will be looking for about $500,000 to begin launching in additional markets.

“We are just starting that journey to find the funding,” he said. “We are looking to funders who see the value of the opportunity to commercialize operations in Winnipeg, expand in Canada and then into the U.S.”

He said it won’t take them tens of millions of dollars to establish the services across Canada and Florida, but discussions with legal advisers south of the border have been heartening.

Reitberger said, ”One told us that once we start to generate consistent revenue in Canada there should be no problem raising $12 million to $15 million to do the same thing in the U.S.”

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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