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Meet Katherine Wells of Serenity App in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Wells.

Katherine, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am an entrepreneur with a 25-year career as a marketing executive for software companies. Several years ago, I was speaking with a friend about wanting to do something more meaningful, but I did not want to leave the world of marketing and software that I love so much.

Little did I know that I would found my own software company with a mission to improve quality of care for older adults, and that it would provide so much meaning for myself and those I serve.

It started after having dinner with my folks in Colorado Springs one night, and I noticed that my mom could not add the restaurant check. Then my father began to notice that mom was buying dozens of household items that they did not need. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Over the following years, I found myself becoming the primary caregiver for both of my parents. I became, what I now call, the ‘CEO of their care team’. It was my role to keep tabs on them, to coordinate care, and to manage communication with family spread across the United States, and the various care providers to optimize their quality of life.

At a certain point, my brothers and I realized it was time to move them into a senior care facility. I naively thought that meant that the communication and care coordination would get easier. It didn’t. Instead, I learned that they would have a new “rounding” doctor, home health would come in to provide my father’s insulin shot, both of them would have home health for physical therapy, and eventually both of them would have hospice care.

Here’s the kicker – none of those people communicate with each other very well, let alone with the family. And when communication came, it came from the provider to me. Rarely could I get the information I needed from them when I needed it. In fact, it was quite difficult to get information from them unless I was there in person. I spent even more time coordinating care and had even more anxiety. At times it was emotionally painful, as I am the epitome of the ‘sandwich generation.’

I knew this was solvable with easier and transparent communication. So I created a HIPAA-compliant group messaging platform, Serenity, to begin to break through the silos. Serenity brings together everyone in the older adult’s care team onto a single app to communication and collaborate. This includes the family, caregivers, doctors, physical therapists, counselors, activities directors, hospice, doctors and more.

In the corporate world, we have cross-functional teams that are necessary for a healthy foundation and company growth. In the senior care world, there are so many rules and regulations that cross-functional efforts are often squashed – much to the detriment of our older adult’s health and quality of life.

Serenity will become the defacto communication platform in senior care, and we are transforming the way care is provided to our moms/dads/spouses. For good.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been pretty typical for a startup software company. I have been met with relief, open-arms, and also definitely some resistance. When you are asking several siloed organizations to change their processes and behaviors, it’s not easy. Fortunately, I have found many early adopters who understand the benefits of increased and improved communication, and who want to take a stand to make change for the better.

We have been successful by gaining the support of those early adopters, as well as family members who demand improved transparency and better access to the care team for their mom/dad. An early hypothesis is that we can positively impact the caregiver crisis by bringing families into the care team.

Please tell us about Serenity App. What should we know?
Serenity is a HIPAA-compliant messaging platform for care teams and families to collaborate and communicate. We specialize in building communication bridges, creating transparency and improving quality of life for our older adults in senior care.

I am most proud that we are slowly, but surely, building strong and sturdy bridges across the silos in a massively fractured senior care industry. I am proud that family members write to me with heartwarming stories of how they now have less stress, and a feeling of connectedness with their mom/dad/spouse that they didn’t have before. I am proud that I have many stories of people who have caught a potential medical error before it could do damage through Serenity. And I am genuinely honored when people tell me their stories through tears of love for their mom/dad/spouse – because I know that what we have created is making an impact in their lives.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory is when I was about five years old. My mom was very strict about not eating after we brushed our teeth at night. One warm summer night, she was sitting on our front porch watching the sun just above Pikes Peak begin to set. I came out in my pajamas and sat on her lap. I reported that I had brushed my teeth and washed my face and was ready for bed. But that I had seen the cookies she just baked, and they smelled so good. She looked at me and said, “Katherine, sometimes rules are made to be broken. Go get a cookie and let’s sit here together for a while before bed.”

That night I learned that the bigger picture is more important than the rules sometimes. That is the fuel I use to drive me as we work to transform an industry for the better.

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