#Power of Businesses l 2021-01-18
Now it’s time to take a look at a Korean business bringing about changes in the global economy with some new ideas.
Today, we’re going to introduce you to Mavenplus, which provides a caregiver service to help elderly patients visit hospitals.
Let’s hear from company CEO Kim Won-jong.
Mavenplus was established in April 2019 with the purpose of providing new and innovative services that would create jobs and help people enjoy happier lives. People feel happy when they eat something delicious, recover from an illness, pass an entrance exam, or buy a new house. When I saw their happiness, I too felt happy. I found myself hoping to do something that would make people feel that way. I set up a social venture as a provider of technology-sharing platforms, in the hopes of creating services that share advanced technologies. These would be in the five areas of food, clothing, shelter, education and healthcare.
Kim worked at several multinational companies for about 20 years to accumulate various work experiences. He established a social enterprise to lead a more meaningful life in his later years. He paid attention to healthcare services, in particular. He found that patients in Korea had to deal with too many things themselves, due to the local healthcare system dominated by suppliers such as medical institutions and health insurances. He also discovered that there were few, if any, services to accompany non-emergency patients to clinics, even though the number of elderly patients who can’t move very well was on the steady rise.
Our service called “GowithU” dispatches the so-called “companion caregivers” who accompany senior citizens at hospitals in a safe and comfortable way. Based on our own standards, we select companion caregivers from licensed nurses, nurse’s aides, caregivers or social workers. When providing our service, we put top priority on safety and comfort. For that purpose, we’ve developed and run a training program for companion caregivers. They learn about the patient’s health, personal information and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Through our platform, people can find and use GowithU anytime, anywhere both quickly and easily. We’ve recently offered a service designed for COVID-19 infection prevention, a wheelchair service to prevent patients from getting hurt from a fall, and the nation’s first electric lift service that helps older people go up and down the stairs safely.
According to Mavenplus, 1.3 million elderly people visit hospitals in Seoul on an outpatient basis every year. In many cases, their hospital visit does not end in a one-time event. Rather, they are supposed to receive regular treatment. But it is difficult for their family members to go to the hospitals with them each time.
“GowithU” provides a comprehensive door-to-door service. A companion caregiver picks you up from your home and accompanies you to the doctor’s office, examination room and the pharmacy before taking you back home safely. At present, the service is available in Seoul and Busan. Mostly, children who have jobs use this service to make sure that their parents visit hospitals safely. An increasing number of people who live abroad have made inquiries about the service as of late.
Employees at Mavenplus say that they had emotional experiences while providing the companion service.
I remember a man who applied to the service for his younger brother. The patient received radiation treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul. When we first took him to the clinic, he had symptoms of delirium and mobility difficulties. He received the treatment consistently, through our companion service, and the result was better than expected. He made reservations for 27 visits at first, but the service ended after 18 visits because he recovered his health quickly.
In another case, an old man was terminally ill with cancer. His condition worsened and his leg was paralyzed, when his daughter applied for the service. Without the service, the man could not have been hospitalized. When his daughter saw a caregiver carrying her father on his back, she shed tears and thanked him for being the son of her father. At the time, I realized how valuable this service was—the service that regards the patients as our own family.
Korean society is aging fast. According to the demographic projection of Statistics Korea, the number of South Koreans aged 65 years or older is forecast to surpass 20 percent of the country’s total population in 2025, 30 percent in 2036 and 40 percent in 2051. It is easy to imagine that relevant markets have high growth potential. On another positive note, the GowithU service can provide regular jobs to caregivers and will create many more jobs when the service is expanded.
Only 4 percent of older people in Korea use nursing homes, while the remaining 96 percent reside at home. The market for taking care of the majority of senior citizens or “community care” is expected to grow exponentially.
Last year, our hospital companion service was selected by the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development, as the best example to create social value. We’re expanding the service as an innovative business model in cooperation with many partners. The partners include the Songpa District Office, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Incheon International Airport Corporation, the Incheon Tourism Organization, the Gangdong-Kyunghee University Hospital and some credit card companies.
We’re planning on providing some services nationwide, including the electric lift service designed for safer mobility of older patients and the companion service tailored to patients who receive dialysis therapy or anticancer treatments.
Another interesting service offered by Mavenplus is called “MonChef.” A famous chef visits the customer’s house and cooks special food. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people refrain from going outside and eating out these days. Using this professional catering service for house parties, people can enjoy special occasions, such as their parents’ 70th birthday or the first birthday of their children, and make happy memories. In this way, Mavenplus uses professional skills to make one’s life more meaningful and valuable.
We pledged to promote customer-centered management last December. One of our key goals this year is to become the first startup to obtain a customer-centered management certification. Over the long term, we hope to grow as a provider of community care services that people can use in their neighborhood. To this end, we’ll continue to develop data-based services tailored to specific needs, through AI or big data technology. This is so the new services can win the hearts of people in Korea.
Taking things a step further, we hope to explore the overseas market as a healthcare platform provider that offers various useful services. Lastly, we wish to achieve success both as a good social enterprise and a great company with high business potential.
Mavenplus is dreaming of a world where no one will give up on treatment just because he or she can’t go to a hospital alone. It is dedicated to helping people enjoy their right to get treatment in a proper way. We’re looking forward to the future of this company that started its business out of goodwill and will surely enrich our lives.