Refero makes Innovate UK COVID-19 fast-start winner’s list
Refero receives Innovate UK funding to help communication between staff and relatives of patients isolated in ICU during the pandemic
Refero will receive funding backed by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to help communication between staff and relatives of patients isolated in ICU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, Innovate UK launched a competition to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis, while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups and SMEs. It will invest up to £20 million in a range of innovation projects to support UK businesses focusing on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries.
Refero designs video, chat, and voice communication channels for patients and professionals which create more choice on how they can connect. It aligns with a need that has been identified during this Covid-19 pandemic for technology solutions that support communication between relatives and clinical teams, which is currently a large challenge in healthcare as a whole but crucially for ICU in particular.
In normal times, staff in Intensive Care Units (ICU) are not just there for the care of the patient, but also to provide care and support for relatives. Important discussions take place about what they can expect to see when they visit, and what is happening to their loved one.
The current crisis now raises several very important questions – how do we maintain this human touch, and the caring side of Intensive Care, in the face of the human tragedy which is unfolding within our hospitals? And, how do we maintain the human contact as ICUs deal with ever increasing numbers of seriously ill patients who require ventilation, and more importantly isolation, due to their infective nature?
Using the funding, Refero will provide a system that is secure, that links the family to the patient and enables simple communications such as messaging and video consultations, so that relatives can provide information about the life of the patient, perhaps encouraged by a simple questionnaire and the ability to upload a picture of the patient when well.
The clinical team can send regular message updates, the relatives can send messages enquiring about their loved one and importantly the software enables users to easily move to video consultation when needed.
Dr Ian Jackson, Medical Director, and Clinical Safety Officer at Refero, said: “Our vision for this project is to provide care teams with the tools to build links with relatives of patients in their care.”
“To facilitate the interaction normally seen in ICU where nurses, doctors and other team members interact with the relatives as they care for the patient. The disruption of these communications, because relatives cannot visit due to COVID-19, are having a serious effect on the mental health of relatives and staff alike.”
The funding will be used to design, develop and deliver a separate instance/module of Refero’s standard platform and provide an app and/or web browser based service, to patient’s relatives and NHS frontline workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond – in line with the NHS’s strategic roadmap planning.
Innovate UK received more than 8,000 applications and can now distribute investment to over 800 projects. The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April 2020.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information visit www.ukri.org.