Houston startup pivots to make communication software for hospitals limiting visitors
With hospitals cracking down on people allowed into patient rooms, a Houston startup has adjusted its software to provide a solution to communications issues between patients, doctors, and family members.
Houston-based Truss usually focuses on digital community engagement, but Patrick Schneidau, CEO of the company, says he felt called to do something to help families separated due to strict emergency visitation rules at hospitals.
"You read all the stories of loved ones not being able to be together during this time," Schneidau says. "That was the area we wanted to focus on."
Schneidau describes the software as a secure portal for small groups to interact via smart devices. Physicians can interface with family members via video chat or recorded messages, as well as answer any questions.
"We've done some preliminary research — doctors themselves want to communicate with the family," Schneidau says, "but they can't be on six different phone calls throughout the day for one patient."
So as not to burden hospital staff unnecessarily, the platform would also provide answers to common questions and resources. Perhaps most importantly, the software can allow patients to interact with their family members from afar.
According to Schneidau, Truss is seeking hospitals that might be interested in the technology and recognizes that hospitals are currently jumping on new tech opportunities in this time of crisis, like Houston Methodist, which is equipping its hospital rooms with tablets.
"We've talked to a number of hospitals, and every one is facing this issue," Schneidau says. "We're figuring out who would be the right people to participate in the tool itself."
Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, Schneidau, who's a member if InnovationMap's board of directors, says he thinks the platform could be helpful communications in nursing homes.
"The outside forces being what they are and preventing visitors in the room doesn't preclude the need to communicate with family members," says Schneidau. "So you have to come up with an innovative solution very quickly to be able to address that particular issue. This is a possible answer to that."