1. CardMedic is a multipurpose flexible digital communication tool. It looks to have been created out of a need for clear communication and the ability to connect with our critically unwell patients during COVID. How do you think the programme helps clinicians meet this need?
While on maternity leave, with three children under four, my overwhelming instinct in March was to immediately return to frontline work. Visiting family in the United States before the pandemic started, we tried flying home early when things escalated. Our flights home were cancelled seven times and with daily updates from friends and colleagues, and glued to the news, I was desperate to help.
Then I read an inspiring story.
A COVID-19 patient had been to intensive care and described feeling terrified when he was unable to understand healthcare staff through the PPE. How could this communication challenge be overcome? I thought about existing approaches of writing messages on paper/whiteboards, using communication boards or Speech and Language Therapy support.
The global societal need for clear communication in healthcare had been severely disrupted, and this didn’t seem a practical and scalable solution for the pandemic; so, I thought digital.
What aspects of care would I be most likely to talk to patients about? What if I replicated these conversations simply and succinctly on a website or app, so staff could access the text and use it to help convey and glean critical information? What would this look like?
I asked friends and colleagues across the UK, and they said a tool didn’t exist in this format. So I created an A–Z online ‘directory’ of flashcards on common healthcare topics, written as if I were talking to the patient. I ensured salient points were covered and any questions remained as straightforward as possible, with mostly yes/no answers required. The content is multi-lingual, with read-aloud functionality and an in-built translation tool, and is being converted to British Sign Language and EasyRead English with symbols. Staff can visit the website or app, choose the topic they would like to talk to the patient about and then display the screen. The different accessibility options will enable them to flex to different patient’s communication needs at the bedside – e.g. visual, hearing or cognitive impairment or a language barrier.
From concept to launch in 72 hours, CardMedic (cardmedic.com) was created on April 1st. Within ten days, we built an app. I joined Twitter within a couple of days of launching and within three weeks, CardMedic had 8,000 users across 50 countries. To date we have had over 45,000 users in 120 countries on the site and over 16,000 app downloads. National TV, radio, newspaper and magazine coverage, along with webinars, podcasts and articles/blogs, also spread the word.
Our core ethos is to improve patient safety, experience and quality of care, and reduce health inequalities.
We strongly believe in making healthcare information more understandable, to reduce the risk of miscommunication inciting harm.
Our aim is for CardMedic to be subsidised for use in Lower/Middle Income Countries, Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Crises.
2. Nine months on from its inception, how do you think the role of CardMedic has evolved during the COVID pandemic?
It’s been a very busy nine months indeed!
CardMedic has evolved its content and functionality and we are about to launch on a new platform, where we can then add the sign language videos and EasyRead functionality.
We have significantly more content to add and are building out the usability of the integrated translation tool at the moment.
It has evolved from a tool to improve communication through the PPE barrier, to being an immediately accessible and flexible communication aid for patients with an array of communication challenges, that has a life well outside the pandemic.
3. Over the next nine months, and through the rest of the pandemic, how would you like to see the role of CardMedic evolve?
We would like to continue to build out the content and accessibility to help as many staff and reach as many patients as possible.
Crowd-sourcing the content has been incredibly uplifting and inspiring, with clinicians from across the globe getting in touch to share their ideas and knowledge.
We would love to grow our user base and keep involving staff, patients and members of the public in getting feedback, to ensure we’re developing a genuinely useful and applicable service.
4. If there were any budding programmers in our healthcare staff ranks out there, what would be your top tips for a project like CardMedic?
- Do something you’re passionate about – this stuff can take over your life!
- Join an accelerator programme – to fast-track you into knowing your marketplace, preparing your business plan, pitch deck and data room
- Say yes to everything (in the beginning!) and network like crazy – then learn to filter out what is really necessary to do, as your time is precious. I’m still working on this…
- Surround yourself with an awesome team
CardMedic Website – click here!
CardMedic is a private enterprise. As such WRaP EM does not endorse directly, has no conflict of interests and stands no monetary gain from the above published discussions with Dr Rachael Grimaldi.