Harvard startup aims to bolster caregiver communication via mHealth

A Harvard Innovation Lab startup aims to bolster patient treatment by enhancing coordination and communication among caregivers via an mHealth app that will let healthcare teams text, share images and videos and have a patient list in quick reach.

Boston-based Seratis describes its technology as a patient-centric care coordination tool that provides patient data with real-time updates. Physician Divya Dhar said she founded the technology company a year ago after years of frustrating medical care experiences.

"For numerous patients, I felt like their care was compromised," Dhar told BetaBoston. "It was hard to know who else was looking after a patient. I knew there was a nurse, but I didn't know who that nurse was. That information was not readily available."

The application is part of a pilot at Cornerstone Healthcare Group facility in Dallas, according to BetaBoston, and the startup also is in discussion with Boston-based hospitals to start additional pilot programs. It features a messaging function that lets staff send and share HIPAA-compliant messages regarding patients and provides a list of who is on a patient's care team, from case managers to social workers. Staff can send messages to specific caregivers or the patient's entire team.

A recent study from Manhattan Research reveals that two in five physicians believe using mobile technology for communicating with patients can boost treatment outcomes. The report states 47 percent of doctors have used smartphones to share images and videos with patients, and more than one-third of physicians have prescribed a health app in the past year.

Today's hospital and medical center patient communication, Dhar told BetaBoston, is limited to paper charts, white boards and pagers. All are cumbersome, hard to keep updated in real time and not up to par with what patient care demands, she said.

"As we move toward a greater consumerization in health, as will be the case with the growing high deductible plans, consumers will demand efficient communication channels, too," Dhar told FierceMobileHealthcare in an email. "Most patients can't tell if a doctor is good by their clinical skills but rather by their communication skills."

She added that if a care team can't communicate well, patients inevitably go elsewhere.

"For a hospital to thrive in the next five to 10 years, they will need to pay closer attention to reducing communication barriers for their staff and patients alike," Dhar told FierceMobileHealthcare.

The pilot effort, according to Dhar, has revealed that often care team members don't know each other; after talking with 200 health professionals, she said seven of 10 members of a patient's care team have not met.

"If they don't know each other then it's very hard to coordinate care even if secure messaging solutions were available," Dhar told FierceMobileHealthcare. "Team transparency is crucial for coordination."

For more information:
- read the BetaBoston article