We had the pleasure to interview Rajiv Tanna, CPO and Co-founder of birdie. With a deep passion for transforming the ageing experience through technology, Rajiv and his co-founders launched birdie in 2017. With the mission to address the significant challenges faced by the social care sector in providing adequate and personalised care to an increasingly ageing population, this innovative London-based startup has successfully raised over €47 million in funding.
In this interview, Rajiv will share insights into the founding of birdie, the evolving social care sector, and the pivotal role technology, including artificial intelligence, plays in improving care outcomes. He will also shed light on how birdie stands apart from its competitors by prioritsing the needs of care professionals, care recipients, and their families while leveraging data to drive highly personalised and proactive care.
Why did you and your co-founders decide to launch birdie?
Myself and co-founders Max, Abeed and Gwen launched birdie back in 2017 because we all had the same ambition: finding ways to use technology to fundamentally transform ageing.
The ‘why’ is simple: social care systems across the UK and Europe were simply not designed to deliver care to an increasingly ageing population. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 will pass 1.5 billion. In the UK, last year, the care sector had 165,000 industry vacancies – a 55% rise from the previous year and leaving over half a million adults awaiting care.
Couple this general structural concern with the fact health and social care generally lacks the technology to effectively react to these spikes in demand; a fact made even more concerning as we see several other industries lightyears ahead on their digital journey, using incredible tools that could be applied to health and social care.
As such, we decided to pull together a team of technology builders, healthcare leaders, renowned designers and care partners to create a powerful home healthcare technology that could make ageing at home as simple and safe as it should be.
How has the social care sector evolved since you first started?
There’s barely been real progress, not only in the UK but across Europe as well. Truth be told, the vulnerabilities of the health and social care sectors have never been more exposed, with some of their worst-ever crises impacting several countries.
The continued lack of investment – both in time and resource -, as well as the structural underfundings and the endless delays to reform the sector have made it clear that we can’t rely on governments to spearhead meaningful reform. Instead, reform must come from within.
That’s exactly what we’re trying to do at birdie. To help the care sector move forward, we’ve developed a personalised home healthcare technology that allows homecare providers and care professionals to deliver high-quality, person-centred domiciliary care in the most efficient way.
Ultimately, this enables us to support proactive and preventative healthcare at home, which delivers people the confidence to grow old.
What are the key areas birdie can help in to solve the social care crisis?
People have lost confidence in the ageing process, and that is something we want to restore by helping older adults live happily and healthily at home.
In its current state, the care system is unable to do so. Funding falls far short of requirements. For example, earlier this year, the UK government halved its proposed £500 million budget for the social care workforce. Meanwhile, almost half a million British adults are still awaiting care.
We provide an innovative technological solution to this problem. At the moment, only 30% of social care providers use any digital technology, and a further 30% use entirely paper-based management systems. By using birdie instead, those organisations can eliminate the unnecessary inefficiencies inherent in their outdated systems. Our digital platform – which includes mobile apps for care professionals and family members, and a web app for care providers – enables the sector to make better decisions, save time, and deliver more personalised care.
AI’s popularity is exploding across industries. What role do you think this technology will play in social care?
AI offers an opportunity to enhance risk management and elevate experiences at all levels of the sector, with a focus on individual care recipients and their specific needs.
Let it be clear that this is not an unsupervised technology that will control decision-making; instead, it serves as a valuable tool for professionals to gain deeper insight into the unique requirements of each care recipient, enabling the delivery of exceptional care.
Ultimately, data on care recipients and care businesses help form key recommendations for early interventions to enable healthcare providers to proactively and efficiently deliver personalised care. If used correctly, the technology can maintain and improve care recipients’ health outcomes.
Will your technology adopt predictive analytics in the near future?
Data is at the heart of predictive analysis and we are constantly evolving how we collect and monitor the insight collected across our platform. As this data set grows, we are refining our offering to provide our end users.
What sets birdie apart from its competitors?
What sets us apart from others is our technology’s priority: to be by the side of the people who work in and receive care, not to replace or dismiss them. Birdie is built to improve care outcomes for all stakeholders involved in social care, including care recipients, care professionals, families, and healthcare workers.
By focusing on the end user, we develop our technology to equip care professionals with the necessary tools and time to do their best work and to feel true satisfaction from that. Through close collaboration with partner organisations, we understand the specific needs of care professionals, such as care coordination, visit optimisation, invoicing, and incident reporting.
Similarly, the team firmly believes data plays a vital role in empowering care providers to deliver their best. Today, our platform gathers vast amounts of relevant data from care providers and care recipients, creating one of Europe’s largest data sources. Thanks to this data-centric approach, care providers partnering with birdie have seen significant improvements. They resolve 80% of medication concerns within 72 hours, compared to the initial rate of 58%. Additionally, they experience an 82% reduction in missed visits. In essence, we enable care providers to accomplish more within the same timeframe, resulting in a better overall service for care recipients.
Looking to the future, we want to be able to extract precise insights about the current and future needs of care recipients, so care professionals can then utilise this information to provide rapid and highly personalised care.