When Chad Bales walked into Jonathan Haag’s office more than two years ago, the two planned to brainstorm how to make it easier for care managers at CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions to connect clients with home healthcare providers. They had no idea their conversation would lead to a new business.
But on Feb. 2, Duett launched, the brainchild of two colleagues who set out to improve internal processes at CICOA.
Bales, 38, a Bloomington native who lives on Indianapolis’ westside, began working at CICOA 14 years ago as a care manager. He now is assistant director of CICOA Flourish Care Management. He knew there had to be a better way to connect clients with home healthcare services and decided to ask Haag for help. Haag, 31, a Carmel native who now lives in Fishers, was CICOA’s digital communications manager at the time and knew a lot about technology.
Finding a better way
The two spent about four hours in that first meeting talking about the challenges care managers faced and possible solutions.
“We knew the solution was technology,” Haag said.
Their first iteration involved Google sheets and an internal webpage, which they dubbed the CICOA Care Exchange. But they wanted more than that. They wanted an app. They soon realized this was an opportunity not just for CICOA, but for other organizations like CICOA that connect clients or patients with home healthcare. A new company formed, and a new proprietary software was built.
That is how Duett was born.
Duett grows from an idea to an app
Think of Duett as a match-making app. Home health providers, who opt into the program, list all the skills they have and the geographical areas they serve. When a client needs homecare, a care manager enters the client’s zip code and service needs into the app, and they quickly get a list of interested providers.
It’s the solution Bales had been hoping for. CICOA has a list of more than 700 care providers throughout central Indiana. It was not unusual for care managers to spend hours “smiling and dialing” to find providers that could fill client service needs, such as in-home nursing care, aides to help with bathing and other personal care needs, or specialized care for a child with disabilities.
While CICOA is Duett’s first client, the for-profit business plans to market the service across Indiana and nationally.
“Never really thought I’d start a business that could become a national company,” Bales said. “We know now, the sky is the limit.”
Innovation is empowering at CICOA
Duett also has become the catalyst for nurturing a culture of innovation at CICOA. Haag, now CICOA’s director of strategy and innovation, is working alongside his colleagues to stimulate continual process improvement and to see whether other ideas might also morph into new business ventures.
While the central Indiana nonprofit has started an Innovation Studio, at the core is the organization’s mission of empowering older adults and people of any age with a disability to live as independently as possible.
That’s what makes Duett so special: It’s a technology solution that connects vulnerable people to services they need in a more timely, efficient manner.
“At end of day,” Bales said. “It’s about getting people better care.”