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From ice rinks to innovations: Former hockey player Braedan Russell’s triumph over trauma inspires healthcare revolution

After surviving a severe brain injury that ended his hockey career, Russell found himself navigating complex care delivery systems on his path to recovery

Photo courtesy of Braedan “Laird” Russell
Photo courtesy of Braedan “Laird” Russell

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

Extraordinary achievements often come from unexpected beginnings. Such is precisely the story of Braedan “Laird” Russell, whose journey from the ice rinks to the forefront of innovation in healthcare technology illustrates the unpredictable nature of inspiration and transformation. 

After surviving a severe brain injury that ended his hockey career, Russell found himself navigating complex care delivery systems on his path to recovery. His experiences as a care recipient himself fuelled an intensive study of care delivery. This journey ultimately led him to identify significant gaps in care delivery in the senior living setting. 

Driven to make a tangible difference, Russell co-founded ExaCare, an all-in-one platform for senior living operators that solves the many deficiencies he identified. Its robust toolkit, custom-built for all job functions in the senior living setting, enhances seniors’ care and well-being. 

Amongst other innovations, Russell designed ExaCare to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze resident health and provide actionable insights for improving resident care. These tools, in return, empower care teams to perform their best.

What Russell has learned from his experience

Drawing from his own experience and general study, Russell discerned that transitional phases of patient or resident care are delicate and require meticulous accuracy and precision, high levels of communication amongst stakeholders, and profound empathy. He considers these transition periods crucial in forming the foundation for the continued well-being of the individual in focus. 

These considerations are notably more important in the senior living space, given older adults’ heightened vulnerability and potential capacity issues. Russell points out the need for healthcare technologies to embrace cohesive, patient-focused models.

The co-founder is filling this gap with ExaCare. He has reimagined the core software platform that senior living operators rely on to deliver care to residents. Fundamental to its design is enabling seamless coordination and communication amongst individuals involved in the resident’s healthcare journey. This prioritization solves many challenges encountered during transitions into senior living environments and ensures that residents receive quality care in a supportive space from day one. 

Highlighting ExaCare’s advantage

Braedan “Laird” Russell utilizes AI technology to empower proactive approaches to resident care and to help efficiently manage diverse and often complex resident healthcare needs. ExaCare’s AI tooling helps with the early detection of resident health issues and condition changes, intercommunity coordination, precise health monitoring, intelligent recommendations, and adjustments to care plans to reflect ever-changing resident requirements. 

Senior living care teams also have access to residents’ electronic health records and real-time data on all aspects of their care programming, providing them with a full picture on any given resident at all times. This access to fresh data and AI-generated insights significantly improves resident well-being.

Russell believes in the importance of transparent and collaborative care. He notes, “Real-time visibility in the care delivery progress provides peace of mind to caregivers and patients alike. It keeps everyone, including families, well-informed on changes and necessary additional interventions.”

Russell seeks to redefine the relationship between senior care teams and their EHR software by turning ExaCare into “a member of the senior living care staff.” It guides and prompts caregivers, medtechs, and other care providers through their daily workflows, ensuring that nothing gets missed. 

Moreover, unlike legacy software, ExaCare breaks down the departmental silos and seamlessly and automatically sends data from one business function to the other to help drive efficiency and accuracy across the whole organization. This paradigm-shifting partnership model forges greater accuracy and quality in care delivery and enhances productivity at the community level. 

In addition to renewed tooling for clinical teams, Russell conceived a multi-channel CRM with advanced marketing features to help communities attract new residents, nurture referral sources, improve talent acquisition and staff retention, and facilitate seamless move-ins for new residents. 

Innovations found in ExaCare’s CRM include auto-generated call transcripts and native calling, texting, and emailing. It also allows communities to create automated email campaigns and sequences, helping increase the volume of outreach and touchpoints, thereby increasing the likelihood of winning new residents. These capabilities help communities efficiently achieve higher levels of occupancy and more robust sales KPI performance. 

Communities are well-positioned to take on more residents with the tooling offered by ExaCare. Russell mentions, “With ExaCare, senior living communities can accommodate more senior residents while at the same time ensuring everyone receives the highest level of care and support.”

A visionary at work

Russell has led ExaCare to significant achievements. Under his leadership, ExaCare clinched a successful funding round, raising $6.5M from Foundation Capital, 1984 Ventures & Bienville Capital. The company has also won the trust of senior care communities and industry veterans across the US. This financial endorsement and widespread platform adoption is a testament to the industry’s palpable demand for ExaCare’s reimagining of senior living software to enhance its care delivery and improve operations.

Outside of ExaCare, Russell is also a mental health advocate for those with traumatic brain injuries. Before ExaCare, he built Galea Health, a venture offering proactive mental health support for athletes. He also shares his insights about mental health at various conferences and speaking engagements, where his messaging centres on excellence in care delivery.

Galea Health’s recognition in notable publications and its selection by the Stadia Ventures Fall 2021 Sports Accelerator highlights Russell’s broader impact on the healthcare ecosystem. His commitment to innovation and excellence across both ventures signals a promising future of endeavours that leverage technology to improve healthcare outcomes.

Catalyst of a new era in healthcare

Russell acknowledges that ExaCare represents only a part of the solution to the vast and complex requirements of the senior living industry. He recognizes many challenges that ExaCare is not well-placed to solve. However, the CEO firmly believes that a comprehensive software platform custom-built for senior living unifies community operations and will best position operators to tackle other changes. For him, ExaCare is not merely a platform but a catalyst for a more profound transformation within the senior living setting. 

By continuing to demonstrate the tangible benefits of integrating advanced technology into senior care, Russell hopes to inspire a ripple effect. He aims for ExaCare to propel the widespread adoption of similar innovations that can collectively enhance healthcare services’ overall quality and efficiency. ExaCare’s mission includes a broader ambition to foster a healthcare ecosystem that is more responsive, efficient, and attuned to the needs of the elderly population.

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