Cincinnati startup aims to revolutionize health care

Imagine your family member is about to leave the hospital. They still need care. You’re given a paper list with the names of a few service providers and possibly outdated contact information. You have so many unanswered questions. Are there services available? Will this facility take our insurance? Does this provider have a history of abuse? Are the after-care providers we need outside of our hospital’s network?

Cincinnati-based founder Ashley Barrow found herself in a similar situation a few years back. Now, her company, RE-Assist, aims to address these questions by adding digital infrastructure to the chaos.

Ashley asked, “What is it like for a vulnerable patient who has a chance to make one decision about their quality of life but doesn’t have a medical professional’s expertise or insight into the system? There’s got to be a certain infrastructure so people can get the right options right when they need it.”

RE-Assist works by digitizing and updating the paper directory, providing real-time assistance to care coordinators, and letting patients filter and search through indicators to find what they need. The company’s goal is to work with hospitals to offer assistance at that transition point. By connecting patients to specialized services, a robust list of options that work for them and their family while giving them quality reassurance through reviews and past abuse reports, this system will help patients get the timely information they need.

Hospitals are also supported by RE-Assist. The company meets requirements from the Medicare Act, making hospitals who partner with them Medicare compliant. Benefits to hospitals include increased provider utilization, increased patient satisfaction, a decreased length of stay so patients are not waiting around in hospital beds for the next level of care, and reduced readmissions based on quality measures.

Ashley has transitioned more than 11, 000 people in her experience as a nurse case manager and clinical liaison who fell in love with case management at a company where patients with significant barriers and injuries transitioned from the hospital back into their community. She's worked with institutions, community agencies, family members, and followed discharge plans. She now uses that knowledge in building her company.

RE-Assist is currently in the Alloy Development Co. incubator. Formerly the Hamilton County Development Co., Alloy is a commercial capital lender, a growth lab for startups, and an economic development partner all under one roof. One of the incubator’s directives is tech-enabled, high- growth, venture-backable startups. Alloy is committed to supporting entrepreneurs creating solutions to real-world problems.

Jeremy Fritzhand, startup catalyst at the Alloy Growth Lab, says, “One of the biggest problems facing the health care field is the time-consuming, costly process of hospital readmissions. It can cost a hospital anywhere from $15,000 to $17,000 if a patient leaves the hospital and is then readmitted.”

Barrow started researching at the NKU library which led her to SOCAP Accelerate, a social capital venture accelerator, in spring 2021, alongside another Cincinnati founder, Philip Cunningham of Jamaa Health. RE-Assist is also supported by Queen City Angels Bootcamp, Main Street Ventures, and Cintrifuse. "Minority accelerator MORTAR," Ashley says, “had such a big impact. They gave her the tools she needed by sending so many opportunities, including grant money for a physical space.”

The company is also supported by JumpStart Ventures and Mercy Health. RE-Assist was recently the only Ohio-based business selected to participate in the nine-month global challenge program MIT Solve in Boston. To build on this momentum, Ashley created the Ohio Healthcare Braintrust that will connect service providers, patients, hospitals, and others in the care economy to come together and brainstorm strategies and ways to collaborate around the transfer of care.

RE-Assist is unique, as Barrow says she “does not have a tech-heavy background, is a mother, and a woman of color.” The company started as a “mother-son story birthed through the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky ecosystem,” Ashley said. It's a “a real grassroots, bootstrapping, innovation company that will save lives and remove burdens and improve quality of life for patients and their families.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Miyah Byrd.

Miyah Byrd is a storyteller and advocate based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in KIIONA Magazine, Forge, Human Parts, and ThriveGlobal. She is a former educator whose interests include food insecurity, green energy, and the self-sufficiency of the Black community.