Ryalto has helped healthcare staff manage their hectic shifts even before the pandemic disrupted the UK’s already stretched hospitals. We caught up with CEO Jon Bennett to learn more about how he took an idea and turned it into an NHS staple.

On the Rise is an interview series presented by Fresh Business Thinking to showcase exciting entrepreneurs whom we predict to be the next generation of ‘household names’. In this episode, we speak to Jon Bennett, founder of the Ryalto app, AKA the ’Uber of healthcare’. 

“To put it very crudely, you could say we’re a bit like Uber, but for nurses,” Jon Bennet explains in an exclusive interview with Fresh Business Thinking’s Arran Wilson. Jon is referring to his brainchild, Ryalto, which has quickly become the go-to messenger service for the NHS, catalysed by the woeful shortage of healthcare workers during one of the most disruptive times in modern history. 

The mobile app gives Ryalto’s healthcare clients an overview on their capacity, which helps them know when to book healthcare workers on flexible shifts. ”This has always been important in healthcare, but it’s even more crucial now during the pandemic,” says Jon. The pandemic has forced hospitals to deploy NHS staff to intensive care and other emergency units with very little notice, which is where Ryalto comes in, giving hospital managers full visibility and up to date information on where their teams are and what they have on. 

For Jon, there’s a clear need for the NHS to have mobile solutions that cut through the noice. “If we think about healthcare workers, they don’t operate like the typical UK workforce. They are very, very rarely on a computer. They might have to type something up quickly, or they might be asked to do some administrative or HR tasks, but it’s often squeezed in their very precious down time.”

”(The NHS workforce is) mobile. They’re mostly out across a big facility. The average NHS hospital has 3000 people.”

Since the majority of healthcare staff are on the go at all times, they don’t have access to some of the tools that we enjoy, Jon says, like collaboration tools, newsfeeds, places to read up-to-date supplementation, places to connect with each other and their employer.

“Everyone’s got a mobile device in their pocket these days. Why don’t we take all of that stuff that we enjoyed on our laptops and our desktops put it in the pocket of the user? They get the chance to collaborate, message each other, book shifts. We can take some wellness support and we can even pop a little chat bot in there to give them 24-hour support around things regarding their work,” Jon says. 

Before the pandemic, healthcare was moving to instant messaging to monitor movements and to aid quick communication and collaboration across different staff groups and different locations. This need, says Jon, was temporarily fulfilled by WhatsApp.

But of course, WhatsApp is not a professional communication tool. “We’ve probably all done it. We’ve sent the wrong message to the wrong person in our social lives. That’s probably just a quick, ’whoops, sorry, wrong channel’. In the professional world, that could be patient data. It could be something that’s confidential. You hit click, it’s gone through, it up on Facebook or the cloud.”

Jon warns that people don’t realise some of the background settings for WhatsApp can also breach confidentiality. “You can accidentally hook your pictures up to your iCloud, or to your other devices. That means that that pictures that you’ve taken to share with a colleague could actually end up in the cloud or on your other personal devices, which could be seen by others.”

Keeping an eye on emerging trends and demands in healthcare has helped Ryalto address needs as they arise. This particular need for a collaborative, confidential and support-based tool came purely from the workforce, he says. “We’ve very much taken our messaging system to the NHS and to care private care and to social care. And we’ve said, ’look, you can see the need. Let’s cut through all these’. It takes the risks out communication in healthcare and ring fences it for professional use.”