Founder’s Journey: A Q&A with CardMedic Co-Founders

6 Minute Read

Communication is a fundamental aspect of healthcare, and it’s something that Rachel and Tim Grimaldi, co-founders of Cardmedic, are passionate about improving. As a UK-based company in early global deployment, Cardmedic is already making waves in the industry, and they recently joined the TMCi Accelerator for HealthTech in 2022. Rachel, a UK-based NHS anesthesiologist, and Tim, with an extensive background in digital technology and e-commerce, have created a simple solution that can have a large impact across communication barriers. In this blog post, we sit down with the Head of the Accelerator for Health Tech, Devin Dunn, and the Cardmedic founders to learn all about their inspiring journey. We’ll explore who Rachel and Tim Grimaldi are, what Cardmedic is, the easiest and most challenging parts of being founders, and what it means to be fluent in healthcare. We’ll also discuss current and future barriers that keep patients from receiving the care they need, how patient-facing communications have been affected in the post-COVID-19 world and why they decided to enter the US market, specifically Houston. Cardmedic has already established relationships with partners in Houston, LA, and hired a TMCi advisor to be the lead for them in the States.


Who are you?

Rachael Grimaldi:

Dr. Rachael Grimaldi is CEO and Co-Founder of CardMedic and a UK-based NHS anesthesiologist. As a practicing frontline clinician with over 16 years of experience, Rachael has a deep sector knowledge of the pain points of frontline communication in healthcare. Rachael has a long-held interest in patient safety and human factors, winning several national and international awards for her quality improvement work over the last decade. Rachael is also the Associate Medical Director for the Brighton Marathon and leads the Brighton Marathon Research Group, working on collaborative and cutting-edge research with universities, world-renowned sports medicine scientists, NHS hospitals and the UK Ministry of Defence.


Tim Grimaldi:

Tim Grimaldi, Managing Director and Co-Founder of CardMedic, has an extensive background in digital technology and e-commerce. With experience in running a multi-million-dollar, multi-national e-commerce business, Tim’s also brings branding, sales, and marketing skills to the mix, complementing the team’s collective skillset.

What is your company’s solution?

CardMedic is an inclusive communication app that enables caregivers and patients to communicate across any barrier at any time. We combine clinical expertise with intuitive communication technology to improve health equity, care delivery and outcomes for patients.

At the point of care, the inability to communicate is the largest single contributor to healthcare inequality, delays in care and discharge, poor patient engagement and health outcomes, and litigation. Patients with additional communication needs make up nearly 50% of the demographic.

CardMedic is a digital safety net, a mobile app in your pocket, delivering a rich and rapidly growing A-Z content library of pre-scripted and pre-translated dialog replicating common clinical conversations with patients. Written by highly-experienced clinicians, the scripts are multi-lingual and can be converted to sign language videos, easy to read with pictures, and read aloud, alongside an integrated live translation chat tool for ad-hoc conversations.

What have been the easiest and most challenging parts of being founders?

The easiest part has definitely been working together. We have been a couple for 22 years this summer, and neither of us would want to make this journey with anyone else in the world. We also have completely different and complementary skill sets –Tim comes from a business background, and myself a clinical one. We approach the business from different angles and support each other’s perspectives.

Probably the most challenging part would be the uncertainty of the founder’s journey and juggling start-up life with raising a young family. It’s hard to draw the line between work and home life, but we try to be disciplined about having weekends together as a family to keep the balance.

From your lens, what does it mean to be fluent in healthcare?

Being fluent in healthcare is about really understanding the patient’s journey. Navigating healthcare – from community and social settings to primary, secondary, tertiary, and beyond, is complex, stressful, and at times, frightening. It’s full of jargon, unpredictability and stress.

Decoding ‘clinician-speak’ for all patients while also giving underserved and vulnerable patients a voice makes this experience empowering, engaging and calmer for all. CardMedic is healthcare, interpreted. That, to us, is what it means to be fluent in healthcare.

What current and future barriers exist that keep patients from receiving the care they need?

This is a huge question! In brief, current barriers range from patients literally not being able to communicate clearly with staff and vice-versa to broader issues such as social deprivation, infrastructure, and transport issues preventing attendance at healthcare settings, poor health literacy, lack of access to the internet and internet-enabled devices and so much more. In each case, if patients cannot understand, then they cannot access and comply with the care they need.

Future barriers will still include all these issues, but we believe technology and the digital transformation of healthcare will both accelerate delivery as well as potentially exacerbate the divide for those with internet poverty.

We are passionate and ardent believers inequitable access to healthcare for all, so with the inevitable and necessary move towards digitizing healthcare, these groups of patients must be at the forefront of product design and user acceptance. We believe it’s not acceptable to say these groups are ‘hard to reach’ – we have to flip the narrative and realize we need to try harder to reach them.

How have patient-facing communications been affected in the post covid-19 world?

The pandemic presented an acute global crisis in communication in healthcare for all. Personal protective equipment, particularly the noisy power hoods, combined with patients’ breathing support equipment, are disruptive and disorientating and make communication almost impossible at times. This is what inspired CardMedic in the first place!

As the pandemic progressed and we have moved to generally just wearing face masks in clinical environments, this has eased somewhat. However, it still presents a huge challenge to those with underlying communication challenges, particularly those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The acceleration of creation and adoption of digital technology in the pandemic has also affected patient-facing communication in the post-covid world. From virtual care and video consultations to AI-powered chatbots and assistive technology, the future of mainstream patient-facing communication is looking exciting!

Tell us what made you decide to enter the US market and why you chose Houston.

In a way, the market chose us! During the pandemic, CardMedic went from concept to launch in 72 hours. Twenty-four hours later, we joined Twitter, and the word spread rapidly. Three weeks in, we had global media coverage, and the feedback we had from staff, patients, careers, and the public from across the world – with primary countries being US and UK – was the demand for CardMedic to remain a patient communication solution post-pandemic.

As our journey unfolded since 2020, we have attended two US MassChallenge Accelerators – ‘Early Stage’ and ‘HealthTech,’ as well as the TMCi Bootcamp and Accelerator programs. Through these programs, we made connections with local hospitals, clinics, and healthcare systems and piloted with Brigham and Women’s Hospital last year. Our relationship with ScaleHealth also brought our first US customer on board, Nor-Lea Hospital District in New Mexico.

CardMedic is all about inclusive communication. We are particularly focused on working with healthcare settings and patients in diverse, multi-cultural cities where many languages are spoken. As the fourth most populous city in the US and with the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the US, Houston embodies this. With TMC being the largest medical complex in the world and with a compelling appetite for innovation, Houston is the perfect fit for us. The team at TMCi is inspiring and dedicated, and we are so proud to work under this umbrella for our US launch.

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