“Transportation is a social lifeline”: Lifespark and Envoy America expand strategic partnership


Lifespark and Envoy America expand a partnership between the two organizations with the launch of Lifespark GO!

Their latest collaboration will provide transportation services to residents of 14 Lifespark senior living communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin – an extension of a partnership that provides these services to its home care clients. Lifespark originally entered the senior living space last summer, acquiring Tealwood Senior Living and its portfolio of 35 communities.

Prior to rolling out Lifespark GO!, Envoy and Lifespark began working together in 2020 to provide seniors with transportation to appointments, church services, and other events. The partnership later expanded to include durable medical equipment and drug delivery services.

Partnerships like this illustrate the ways home care providers are working to address isolation and the social determinants of health.

“Transportation is a social vital sign,” Dr. Bill Thomas, director of independence for Lifespark, told Home Health Care News. “We know the physical vital signs very well and everyone knows how important they are. But in terms of connecting with people and places, transportation is a vital sign. This forces innovators in the field, like Lifespark, to think about transportation in ways traditional or conventional healthcare companies don’t.

Thomas is known for innovations such as the Green House model of long-term care and “Minka”, a concept of mini-houses for aging adults. He started working with Lifespark about four years ago, attracted to the provider by its person-centered approach.

Thomas is also a longtime friend of Lifespark CEO and Founder Joel Theisen.

“I think we’re in the early stages of a huge shift from a hospital-centric system to a community-based system,” Thomas told HHCN in 2018. “What really appeals to me about Lifespark, it’s that he understood that helping people stay in the community is actually the most valuable and cutting-edge innovation in the field right now.”

Matt Kinne, vice president of growth at Lifespark, also pointed to the continued demand for transportation services.

“The most important requests we have received through some members of our care management team [members] and the partnerships we had with payers and health systems were about transportation,” he told HHCN.

Founded in 2004, Lifespark is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based senior care provider that offers both in-home care and senior living facilities. The company – and its management team – has been among the industry’s most visible innovators, even launching the “Homespire” joint venture with Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare in 2018.

Meanwhile, Envoy is a Phoenix, Arizona-based company that provides door-to-door transportation service, as well as assistance and companionship, to in-home seniors.

Spark of life GO! uses Envoy’s subscription model to provide certified companion drivers, as well as full support for Lifespark residents.

“We work with Lifespark residents with personalized service to get to places, not just the grocery store or medical appointments, but even casinos — just to stay active, to stay engaged with society,” KC said. Kanaan, co-founder and CEO of Envoy, to HHCN. “The benefit we bring to Lifespark is that we help them focus on their core skills.”

Some of the other benefits of this partnership are that it allows organizations, like Lifespark, to reduce their overall expenses. It also helps them stand out in a competitive market.

From a commercial point of view, the partnership is a licensing relationship. Both organizations have also made a long-term commitment to sharing data.

“As we accept more global risks and value-based contracts, it becomes really important to understand all aspects of our members’ lives,” Kinne said.

While partnerships that allow home care providers to offer ride-hailing services have become more common over the years, Thomas pointed out some key differences between Envoy and traditional ride-sharing companies.

“There is a demand for transport services that are organized and geared around doing a great job for older people,” he said. “Nothing against Uber or Lyft, but that’s not their goal. For Envoy, that’s their priority.

Kanaan believes the partnership between Envoy and Lifespark persists because the two organizations are aligned when it comes to goals and overall mission.

“When we met, it became very clear that Lifespark’s vision, their vision of service and their way of doing things were very similar to how we see our role in society, which is to provide excellent service to people. elderly,” he said. “It was easy to come to an agreement and to work together to execute that agreement.”

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