Life-saving charity, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS), has become the first UK pre-hospital health organisation to adopt a new app designed to help healthcare staff breakdown communication barriers with patients at the point of care.


Using flashcards with simple questions and explanations, CardMedic helps healthcare staff to communicate with patients who have visual, hearing or cognitive impairment, language barriers or who are impacted by staff having to wear PPE.


Language difficulties are particularly hard in emergencies where time is critical and it is problematic to get a translator or sign language expert to the scene. Compulsory PPE for KSS’s emergency doctors and paramedics since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it even harder for patients to hear and to understand.


From next month, KSS’s team of 60 clinicians will be able to use the CardMedic app on phones and iPads, helping them to communicate with patients so that they can provide reassurance and also gather information that can influence critical decision-making for a patient’s treatment and on-going care.


CardMedic was founded in April 2020 by NHS anaesthetist, Dr Rachael Grimaldi, and is based at The Oxford Trust’s Oxford Centre for Innovation. The app is simple and easy-to-use, replicating conversations around common healthcare topics. It has been developed by clinical experts including speech and language therapists, learning disability nurses, audiologists, psychologists, critical care nurses and doctors to make sure the content is accurate.  A series of flashcards for different emergency situations has been developed and these will be used by KSS.


Commenting, Leigh Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery at KSS, said:


“Communication with patients is of paramount importance to pre-hospital emergency medical care, and this has certainly become more difficult over the past year since we have been required to wear PPE.”


“Our patients are often critically ill, having experienced major trauma or resulting from a medical emergency. Communication can be vital to provide reassurance and to improve outcomes.   CardMedic will help us to communicate more clearly so that more of our patients are able to share information that can assist us in how we take care of them, and so that we can help our patients understand more about what we are doing to help. The CardMedic app gives us an innovative tool to help us to continue to give the best possible care and response to our patients and we are delighted to be the first UK pre-hospital health organisation to adopt the new app”.


Dr Rachael Grimaldi, founder, CardMedic said:


“We are really proud to sign our first pre-hospital beacon site agreement with KSS to install the CardMedic app on phones and iPads used by their emergency staff. We hope that CardMedic will help emergency healthcare staff quickly understand patients’ needs where there are communication difficulties and explain their care in emergency situations.”


About KSS

Operating out of Redhill Aerodrome and headquartered in Rochester, KSS provides world-leading pre-hospital emergency care whenever and wherever required to save lives and to enable the best possible patient outcomes. Covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex, KSS serves a population of 4.8 million plus those who travel through the area – one of the busiest in the UK. Its crews of pilots, doctors and paramedics fly over 2,500 missions a year.


KSS, which in 2021 celebrates its 31st year, was the first 24/7 Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) in the country. In March 2020 KSS became the first HEMS to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in all five of its inspection key lines of enquiry: safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. In September 2020 KSS won the Charity Times Charity of the Year Award (income more than £10M).


Each year, the charity must raise over £15M to operate its life-saving service. 88% of this is raised through public donations and fundraising.


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