England’s national health service is freeing up hospital beds by partnering with an app that will match 5 million patients with compatible private carers. The NHS loses $1.2 billion annually from patients who are stuck in hospitals due to delays arranging care, the percentage of which increased by 42% between 2015 and 2016. Doctors will contact Cera, the social care start-up that runs the app, to match patients with carers in under four hours within London, and 24 hours in many other parts of the country.
Results & Impact
Cera will match 5 million patients with carers through the NHS. The partnership will begin in five hospitals run by the Barts Health Trust and three clinical groups before rolling out across the country
England's National Health Service, Cera
Cera aims to free up hospital beds in England, where delayed discharges increased 42% from 2015 to 2016. Patients and family can use the app to match patients with carers. Doctors and nurses email Cera with their patient's requirements, then the company sends a professional to assess his or her needs for a referral. Cera guarantees to match patients with carers within 24 hours throughout England, and within four hours in London. It is the first partnership between the NHS and a venture-backed start-up
Patients, the elderly
Cost & Value
Delayed patient discharges cost the NHS $1.2 billion annually
Running since March 2017
The biggest challenge Cera faces is meeting the demand: "We're a startup, and Barts is the the largest trust in the country - very sizeable compared to us," said CEO Ben Maruthappu. To ensure they have enough carers to match with patients, Cera is paying them 50% above market rates
England’s national health care system will use Uber-style technology to match patients to carers, in a bid to save $1.2 billion annually in delayed patient discharges.
The National Health Service (NHS) partnered with Cera, a certified social care provider and app that recently raised £1.3 million in European healthcare history’s largest ever seed funding round. Cera will arrange private carers for five million people with diseases like dementia and cancer via the NHS.
The percentage of delayed discharges – where patients are medically ready to leave the hospital but are delayed due to problems arranging care – increased by 42% from 2015 to 2016.
“The number one reason people aren’t discharged is because their home care package isn’t organised in time. Because of the high quality, fast, accessible service we’ve built, we believe we can tackle this problem head on. We want to facilitate discharge in a safe, prompt manner, so patients can be comfortable,” said Ben Maruthappu, CEO of Cera.
The company aims to change how social care is delivered with a platform that efficiently matches patients with compatible carers. Currently, patients and family members can use the app to find carers, while health professionals email Cera with patient details to secure a referral. Cera then sends a health care professional to assess the state of the patient, and guarantees a carer within 24 hours. In London, the app promises to provide care in under four hours. Traditional agencies typically take weeks.
The partnership marks the first between the NHS and a venture-backed startup. It will begin in five hospitals run by Barts Health NHS Trust – the largest hospital trust in the UK – as well as three clinical commissioning groups (membership bodies responsible for planning health care in their area) in northwest London.
Families can already use the app to schedule a carer and monitor a patient’s care. Customers will pay approximately $19.50 an hour, which is similar to the cost of traditional care homes.
The biggest challenge Cera faces is meeting the demands of the partnership. “We’re a startup, and Barts is the the largest trust in the country – very sizeable compared to us. One challenge we are facing is keeping up with demand, but thus far we are, thanks to a robust requirement system and the fact that we reimburse carers significantly,” said Maruthappu.
By reducing overhead costs, Cera is able to pay carers salaries that are 50% higher than market rates.
Cera is building an arm of the platform through which health professionals can securely see records of patient discharges. “This can be really helpful in allowing health care professionals to see how patients are doing in the community, and allowing patients to see a doctor without going on a home visit.”
Currently, Britain’s local councils are responsible for social care – but many struggle to meet demand due to the country’s rising life expectancy and funding cuts.
Cera, which is backed by $1.6 million in investment, plans to personalise its service beyond matching patients and carers by illness. In the future, customers will be able to search for carers with detailed criteria like language, interests and personality compatibility.
Cera is also trialling gadgets to monitor the elderly, like an artificial intelligence program that sends alerts when they show early signs of illness, such are not eating regularly.
(Picture credit: Pixabay/DarkoStojanovic)