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Cardmedic, a UK company founded by NHS anaesthetist Rachael Grimaldi, has developed a digital flashcard system to help frontline NHS staff communicate with coronavirus patients while wearing personal protective equipment.

Grimaldi said she created the system while on maternity leave after a report about a coronavirus patient who was unable to understand healthcare workers due to the barrier to their communication caused by PPE.

The Cardmedic flashcards can be used in electronic format on phones, tablets, smart devices or desktops, allowing healthcare workers to communicate while wearing PPE such as face masks, visors and hoods.

Along with the visual aspect, which aids communication with deaf and hard of hearing patients, the system also includes a “read aloud” option for patients who are partially sighted or blind or who may be too unwell or unable to read.

Cardmedic offers the flashcards for free on its website, which has amassed over 7,800 worldwide since it was launched at the beginning of April. It is being used by NHS Trusts across the UK as well as by hospital staff in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the US and New Zealand.

The company is supported by the Department for International Trade, who have provided it with an adviser and other business connections.

The flashcards are currently available in 10 languages, with work underway to offer the service in 30 languages. The company is also working on an app, including illustrations and videos for British Sign Language, along with downloadable PDF versions to be printed out.

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