Communication tool aims to reduce health inequalities

CardMedic aims to overcome any communication barrier between healthcare staff and patients.

patient  and healthcare working looking at CardMedic app on a tablet
  • Desktop and mobile app aimed at inclusive communication.
  • Launched in the pandemic in just 72 hours.
  • 28% increase in patient confidence

CardMedic is a desktop and mobile app that provides digital flashcards to guide patients with additional communication needs through clinical interactions, to deliver inclusive communication for all.  

Co-Founder and Chief Executive at CardMedic, Rachael Grimaldi is a Senior Anaesthetic Registrar at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Entrepreneur.

Rachael co-founded CardMedic during the Covid-19 pandemic whilst on maternity leave after reading an article about a critically ill patient who was terrified because they could not understand what their clinician was saying through their PPE. This sparked the realisation that communication is at the heart of all healthcare and directly impacts the standard of care which is delivered.  

More than 35% of people have additional communication needs.  

Desperate to help, Rachael conceptualised and launched CardMedic in just 72 hours. The solution holds a library of content in multiple languages, including British Sign Language and Braille, that clinicians can use to communicate with their patients. All emergency content is free to download, with subscriptions available for larger libraries. Since launch, the app has had over 22,000 downloads across the UK and internationally.  

“CardMedic has been a huge help for my Critical Care Nurses and Doctors who have been trying to communicate with our overseas patients, especially out of hours.

Rose, Matron, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust 

Additional communication needs can be due to a number of reasons, including deafness, blindness, or language barriers. Communication barriers have serious implications in healthcare settings and contribute to health inequalities. CardMedic is aiming to reduce health inequalities by enabling patients to understand information by making it accessible, addressing their specific communication needs, and in-turn transforming the relationship that patients have with their clinicians. This correlates with reduced mortality, improved medication compliance, and a reduction in anxiety and fear felt by patients previously unable to understand healthcare staff.  This improvement in communication is empowering patients to make collaborative decisions with healthcare teams around their care.   

A service evaluation at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with the Social Science team at University of Sussex led by Dr Mary Darking, revealed a 28% increase in patient confidence when understanding healthcare staff when they were using CardMedic, from 67% to 95%.  

Phone in a hand

Rachael  joined the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme in 2020 and have since attracted the attention of the global technology community and has transformed CardMedic into an award-winning company.   

The programme has been invaluable in helping CardMedic become what it is today. 

The NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme has given Rachel and her team unparalleled insight and exposure into the NHS infrastructure and procurement frameworks, which often remain elusive for new companies trying to break into the NHS. On a skills level, Rachael has learned how to write a business plan, a financial model, and learned key skills on how to pitch to investors.  

Rachael’s key piece of advice to all aspiring innovators, is to really understand the problem you are wanting and needing to solve. Working within the NHS provides a unique advantage as you have lived experiences of challenges the services face. It is important your creation answers a specific question, or solves a real problem, only then can you really create something that is going to make a difference. The process of bringing an innovation to life is hard, but the programme allows you to go on this journey with other likeminded people and you can support each other along the way. The networking element of the programme has supported CardMedic to explore partnerships, build relationships, and nurture them. Rachael also emphasises the importance of mentorship and ensuring you get the most out of the fantastic people around you on the programme.  

‘’The programme has been invaluable in helping CardMedic become what it is today. We have been able to build an amazing network, create opportunities through strategic partnerships, build confidence with presenting, and had the opportunity to get in front of some really amazing people. There’s nothing quite like the scale of opportunity of this programme, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities it has created’’ 

Rachael Grimaldi – Co-Founder and Chief Executive at CardMedic

What’s next for CardMedic? 

Moving forward, CardMedic plans to grow its content library, with a top priority in building out the primary care library as this is the front door to the health system for many people. They are also aiming to build the number of translations to 30+ languages and ensuring that everything is human translated so the content is of the highest quality, accuracy, and is culturally appropriate.   

Outside of the content, CardMedic are looking to scale by integrating with EPRs. They are exploring relationships with Cerner and Allscripts in the EPR space and they are excited to see how this will grow over the next year. They will also be working with Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust on a testbed project as part of the CW+ Innovation Programme, an opportunity that was founded as part of their Pitchfest win at Digital Health Rewired.  

To find out more, visit the CardMedic website, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.   


Published by Lucy Dentice

Deputy Programme Manager for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.