New health-tech platform secures record funding to disrupt dysfunctional sector

Health-tech start-up Cera has launched an on-demand social care platform after completing the largest-ever seed round in Europe’s healthcare history.

Former and current heads of leading tech giants, international banks, the World Health Organisation, and food delivery service JustEa, have pumped £1.3m into the disruptive business, which aims to solve the country’s growing need for quick, reliable, and transparent social care.

 

Guaranteed

The health-tech venture – which is the only service in the UK to guarantee a carer to a patient’s door or hospital bed within four hours – uses state-of-the-art technology to match each carer with the right person, at the right time, at the right place. Either the patient or family member can sign up online via Cera’s interactive website, to quickly book emergency or long-term care, as well as manage bookings and review care records. The online platform, which is easily accessible on all smart devices, also allows family members to receive updates and send messages to the carer on the go, to ensure complete peace of mind.

Co-founded by 28-year-old doctor Ben Maruthappu and Marek Sacha, a 29-year-old internet entrepreneur with a background in artificial intelligence, Cera is designed to relieve pressure from the NHS and tackle bed blocking, which costs the organisation approximately £820m every year. At scale, it’s estimated that Cera will save the taxpayer up to £500m a year, with around 100,000 fewer GP consultations.

Discussing Cera’s proposition, Lord Nigel Crisp, former CEO of the NHS, also emphasised the important role of technology moving forward, saying: “The internet is the organising principle of our time and health and care organisations must take advantage of it to improve their services.”

Cera has teamed up with smart home company Gideon, which also has partnerships with John Lewis and Microsoft, meaning Cera’s always-on care service in the home allows relatives to check up on their loved ones at a moment’s notice. A tech-enabled home specifically designed for elderly people means daily routines are simplified, allowing them to control appliances like lights and door locks with ease, giving them more autonomy.

 

Targeting local authorities

The company is also actively speaking to councils and hospitals to discuss integrating its services into the public care system. Social care services currently cost local authorities an estimated £5bn a year. Partnerships with Cera that see people stay in their own home, instead of moving to care homes, could be up to four-fold cheaper. With the closure of 1,500 care homes in the last six years, and one million people with care needs now receiving no formal or informal help in the UK, the new venture will provide a sustainable relief to an industry in desperate need of overhaul.

Ben Maruthappu, co-founder and president of Cera said: “As someone who has sought care for a family member, I believe that the best home for seniors is their own. Our aim is to create a digital doorway to the over 65s, and curate services with partners to help them live more independently. In addition to rolling out partnerships with councils and hospitals, we are actively looking at other avenues including retail, food delivery and wearables, and how we might be able integrate them with our health-care technology.

“A key challenge in healthcare has been how we can pivot it from reactive, to proactive. With my background as a practising doctor, combined with Marek’s experience in building successful internet companies, we believe we’re in a strong position to take on this worthwhile challenge.”

Related reading