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  • Writer's pictureAlice Appleton

An Epidemic of poor communication: Milton Keynes Radio Recap

Jon and I were SO excited to speak on Milton Keynes FM this week, where we introduced Clera to the MK scene after winning the MK Tech Fund (a council funded initiative run by the Milton Keynes Investor Group.)

I've never been on the radio before, but was very swept up in Michael Blades radio voice enthusiasm!


This week I’ve been finding out about business’ here in MK that are benefitting from the MK tech fund - New Tech startups here, finding out the incredible things they’re achieving here in MK.

I’m delighted to be joined by Jonathan Abeles and Alice Appleton, Co-founders of Clera Healthcare.

Jonathan and Alice how are you both?



Very well thank you, how are you?



Very well, Lovely to talk to you. First of all, Clera Healthcare, a new tech business here in MK, give us a bit of an overview of what it is first of all and what you do.



Absolutely! So Clera is a doctor-founded business and we’re on a mission to improve communication between hospital wards and patient families.

We want to make sure that every relative is kept updated, and no longer has to spend hours at a time sitting on the phone to hospital wards waiting for someone to answer and not know what’s going on with their family member who’s in hospital.

And to do this we’ve created a messaging service that allows doctors, nurses, therapists – all on the wards, to send simple updates digitally to relatives.

So for example, when they move wards, getting a notification of that, letting them know how they’re doing that day, whether they’ve eaten breakfast, you know, all of that sort of thing, what the discharge plans are.

And we’ve really done that because we feel that a lack of information leads to so much anxiety and so much frustration, and we think that’s completely avoidable, so we’re hoping we’ve created the solution to that.



It’s a brilliant idea and something that everyone listening will be able to relate to as well - everyone’s been in that situation where you know someone in hospital, you’re wondering how they’re doing, but you don’t want to constantly ring and hassle the staff, or you don’t want to be constantly trying to check in on them.

So having a system where you can just get regular updates, I imagine would put so many people’s minds at ease.



Exactly. That’s exactly what we’re hoping for, and I think it’s true that everyone that we’ve spoken to has an experience of this problem - it’s an epidemic of poor communication across the country.



So let’s talk about how it works then. First from the hospital and healthcare side. Obviously we know that doctors are very busy and overworked. How do they go about updating this?


Jonathan: So as Alice mentioned, we’re both doctors, and in our experience, we’d go down the patient list and often spend hours contacting family members, talking to family members, and when you do eventually manage to get through to them, we so often hear the frustration in their voice after they’ve spent hours trying to get through to you.

And you update them and spend time doing that, putting them at ease, and then often, 10 minutes later, you get a call from another family member, who hasn’t spoken to the first family member, and this entire cycle starts again.

And not only is that really inefficient, but it’s also really unfair.

If you live far away, if you speak a different language, if you have a disability or work full time, you’re less likely to be able to get updates in the current system, which we didn’t find acceptable.


So what we’ve created is a web application. As you mentioned, healthcare staff are really, really busy, so we wanted to reduce some of that workload by being able to do it in seconds.

You can go down your patient list, you can send messages to the entire family as well as the patient themselves, in a matter of seconds.

And we want to make sure we can save time for the really important conversations and direct clinical care of the patient.

We’ve designed it in a way where you can go down your list while you’re on a ward round in the morning and get this job done in seconds rather than, at times, hours.



It’s a brilliant idea. So doctors could update the family in real time, while they’re still with the patient potentially?


Jonathan: Exactly, exactly. And we’re also looking at automating the parts of this that could be automated. So, for example, when a patient moves wards you don’t necessarily need someone at the end of the phone telling you that, that’s quite time consuming and more than not doesn’t happen, so we’re looking at automating the parts that can be automated, again leaving time for the really important conversations.



Interesting, so how does it work from the family members side, how do people sign up, how do people subscribe to get the right information for the right patient?



We want to make this as fair as possible. We know that not everyone can use an app, we know that not everyone even has a smart phone. Therefore, the base level of this is done by text message - because the vast majority of people can receive a text message, or know someone who can, who can relay that message to them.

Building on from that, we think we can offer a lot more functionality by having an app on top of that. So, you can have things like automation, multimedia and a lot more possibilities to add value to both hospitals and patient families.

But we wanted to make really, really sure that everyone is included at the base level, which is why we’ve started with text messaging.



So it could be as simple as a family member providing their phone number, the hospital input it alongside the patient, and then they’ll receive all the updates for that patient?



That’s exactly it, yes!



It’s a genius idea, and it’s almost amazing that it doesn’t already exist?!



Yes! We hear that a lot, which we agree we’re surprised that it doesn’t exist, but someone’s got to do it!



Yeah, and I’m glad you are! So where are you up to with setting it up or rolling it out?



So, we’ve created our app and it’s being tested in a pilot location in rehab facilities, which is going really well and is really exciting. But what we’re doing now, which is where the MK tech fund has come in and been incredibly useful for us, is launching our marketing drive and trying to get it into facilities and get our names out there and the word out about what we’re doing. So, we’re ready now to get Clera into the hands of customers and try and get some evidence that it’s helping and get some good data showing that what we’re doing is improving the patient experience, improving the family experience and obviously improving the healthcare experience as well.



So that’s the next step! Congratulations on receiving the MK Tech Fund, you definitely sound like a fantastic beneficiary. Thank you so much for filling us in on where you’re up to so far, and we very much look forward to seeing your success over the coming years as well.

Jonathan and Alice from Clera Healthcare, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you, we wish you the best of luck!


Alice and Jonathan:

Thank you so much! Great to speak to you.

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