Julie Magnan: How to Care for Caregivers in Canada

Any of us can become a caregiver when we least expect it. In 2012, Montreal native Julie Magnan learned her father had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While her stepmother had taken responsibility for his care, Julie wanted the option to take him for the day and give his wife some respite.

The many moving pieces to his care quickly became apparent: medications, detailed healthcare instructions, not to mention how to respond to unforeseen emergencies. This was when Julie first experienced the challenges associated with transferring caregiving responsibilities from one person to another.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. Out of personal need, Julie came up with the idea for a round-the-clock assistant to help caregivers track critical information and share it with their patient’s circle of care.

Giving a Hand to Caregivers

Julie began a several-year journey of iterating on her initial concept of a smart pillbox and invented MedOClock®, a mobile application for simple, effective, safe, and collaborative management of dependent individuals.

According to the data from the government of Québec, there are nearly 1,500,000 informal and family caregivers in the province alone. Globally, caregivers represent an unpaid workforce comprised largely of women between 35-64 years old. They administer an impressive 85 percent of their loved one’s care.

These indispensable people provide administrative, logistical, and emotional support, not to mention helping with transportation to medical appointments, groceries, and acting as first responders in emergencies. Only one in 10 caregivers lives with the patient they’re caring for, and typically also cares for aging parents and children, while working a paying job.

These circumstances lead to burnout and exhaustion for caregivers, who often begin to experience adverse financial and health effects themselves.

MedOClock® Round the Clock

To address the burnout and health concerns for caregivers and their patients, MedOClock®, a Montreal-based company, has created a namesake mobile application.

“We launched the new app version in 2018, and then came the pandemic,” recounts Julie, who is the company’s co-founder and CEO. “COVID was an eye opener. We saw that people were not in close contact with their at-risk parents in retirement homes.” The application became a way to connect families to a patient’s care, status, and schedule.

At the time, Julie had no idea that three years later, her invention would help her take care of her beloved husband who was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Today, MedOClock® is a caregiving tool that includes the smart pillbox, care team contact information, appointments, patient habits—such as daily schedule, diet, care preferences—among other data any caregiver needs to know. The tool includes the patient’s medical card and full profile (blood type, birthdate, any allergies, etc.), as well as their care team’s profiles and availability should an emergency arise. In addition, a chat option allows caregivers to communicate in real time with the care team and the patient’s family. Users also appreciate an evaluation function that informs the team if the patient can walk, independently use the toilet, and so on.

To maintain data confidentiality, the application is encrypted and secure. The primary caregiver can create the patient profile upon receiving their consent, and then invite stakeholders to get involved.

Filling a Critical Social Need

As the business grew, it had to determine who would pay for the service. The entire project’s “to be, or not to be” depended on it. Julie Magnan found a solution to Hamlet’s dilemma: B2B. To avoid placing an additional financial burden on the individual caregiver, she focused on a B2B sales model where the employer covers the service cost. As leading companies continue to seek new ways to support their employees and create healthy workspaces, the MedOClock® application is an important employee benefit. It protects workers from burnout, absenteeism, or even turnover resulting from the competing priorities of caregiving.

MedOClock® is now a certified women-owned business with WEConnect International. At the WEConnect International roundtable, Julie met representatives from EY, a multinational professional services network with 6,500 employees in Canada alone. Eventually, EY contracted with MedOClock® to offer the service to its workforce. In addition to other private sector clients, the MedOClock® team is also targeting public sector programs, insurance providers, and senior living facilities. Interested individuals can download the app on the Google Store and Apple Store and pay for a monthly or annual subscription.

The app is currently available in Canada’s two official languages, French and English. Further translations are underway as the business looks to expand into US and European markets. With global implications for caregivers, patients, and their families, MedOClock® fills a critical and urgent social need.

“The caregiver is someone who doesn’t ask for help and does the work by themselves,” affirms Julie, based on her own experience and thorough research. “Thanks to the MedOClock® app, sharing the burden of caregiving just got considerably easier.”