Health Tech | Whither the Pager? Sertaris Seeks to Replace a Familiar Technology

By Shiv Gaglani

Even before the smartphone debuted, many health technologists predicted the downfall of the humble pager. However, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the pager's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Despite the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, and emergence of augmented reality devices like Google Glass, most hospitals—according to one recent study, upwards of 90%—still rely on pagers. While there are a number of reasons for this, including transmission reliability, data security, and the generally slow pace of change in health care, one young startup company, Seratis, is developing a mobile-based solution that may offer enough of an incentive to finally dethrone the pager. We had the opportunity to speak with founder and physician, Divya Dhar, MD.

What problem is Seratis trying to solve?
Seven out of 10 members of a patient's clinical team (like doctors and nurses) are unaware of one another's role. Moreover, over 90% of real-time electronic communication in a hospital currently happens via pager, which makes coordinating care cumbersome. Seratis is a platform for team transparency and care coordination that gives doctors, nurses, and other clinical team members visibility into who else is looking after their patients—all in real time. Additionally, clinicians can use Seratis to exchange secure text messages, thereby streamlining communication with the aim of increasing staff productivity and patient satisfaction and also reducing medical errors.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?
During my residency, I was responsible primarily for coordinating care for my patients. This was an extremely frustrating experience because of a lack of transparency into who else was looking after my patient. Very often, I'd page someone and my page would not be returned. This would contribute to a delay in discharge time for my patients.

What is your background in medical technology and innovation?
I am a physician and had practiced as a resident in a tertiary hospital setting. I also founded a nonprofit company called the P3 Foundation, which aims to inspire young people to end extreme poverty. I met my cofounder, Lane Rettig, at the MBA program at Wharton Business school. Lane is a computer scientist from UC Berkeley. He worked for a leading hedge fund and, as a result, has extensive expertise in developing scalable, secure, high-performance computer systems in the financial sector. He has brought that to bear in health care at Seratis.

Can you describe how the technology works? What does it replace, and who is going to use it?
Seratis is a mobile application that can be downloaded on an Android or Apple device. Any clinician can view their patient list on the go and then see who else is looking after that patient. With one tap, they can send a secure message to any member of that patient's care team. Seratis looks to replace archaic systems pagers and whiteboards that have staff designations next to a patient's name; these are ubiquitous on almost every ward of every hospital. We make all of this digital so that clinicians can see this information in an intuitive, user-friendly manner.

Have you hit any major milestones since you started the company?
We graduated from DreamIt Health, a 4-month health care technology–focused startup accelerator program, in August 2013. In January of this year we received $850,000 as one of the winners of Verizon's Powerful Answers Award in the health care category. We also won first prize at Hatch Pitch at the South by Southwest festival this past March. We have started a pilot program in Texas, which has given us very positive feedback. We plan to soon start another pilot program with Penn Medicine.

What are your goals in the next few years?
Our aim this year is to run several pilot programs that help us measure effectiveness and build case stories. We want to rapidly iterate so that the product is extremely intuitive, secure, and seamless for collaboration. We will learn best practices that will make it extremely easy for other hospitals to implement Seratis. In 5 years, we look to be leaders in the team transparency and care coordination market.

How can a doctor try Seratis?
For a limited time, we are inviting independent clinicians to trial Seratis for free. They will be able to download Seratis for their most high-touch or chronically unwell patients. We believe strongly in this partnership. Please reach out to us at if you would like to be invited to join the free trial.

Shiv Gaglani is an MD/MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School. He writes about trends in medicine and technology and has had his work published in Medgadget, The Atlantic, and Emergency Physicians Monthly.

Keywords: Internship and Residency, Medical Errors, Patient Care Team, Delivery of Health Care, Biomedical Technology, Patient Satisfaction, Text Messaging, Mobile Applications

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