The World's First Social Care App: Interview with Ben Maruthappu, Cera, CEO

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We’re beginning to become accustomed to AI assistants in the home and on our personal devices. If you hear someone say ‘Hello Siri’ or ‘Hi Alexa’ you can be pretty confident that they’re talking to a voice assistant rather than a friend. But what would you think if you heard someone chatting to ‘Martha’? Enter the world's first AI assistant in social care.

Healthcare is seeing more AI deals than any other sector globally, and the potential for AI assistants in the space is exponential. Cera, the London-based multi-award winning technology company have created Martha to help transform social. CEO, Mahiben Maruthappu, has helped advise the CEO of NHS England on £100 billion of health spending, co-founding the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) which has benefitted 3 million people in its first six months.

Often, when elderly people become incapable of looking after themselves entirely, they do not want to move into assisted accommodation, but their loved ones feel inexperienced in social care to give them the support they need and deserve. Cera ‘wants to change the world of home care by supporting elderly people to live where they are most comfortable and happy’, and they are doing this by helping people select the right care for their loved ones and offering continued support for as long as it is required. ‘Whatever the needs of you and your family, you’ll be well cared for with Cera.’


At the AI Assistant Summit in London we’ll be joined by Mahiben Maruthappu, CEO and Co-Founder of Cera who will explore and share how the generation of AI assistants can transform healthcare, and will share their most recent progressions with Martha, who can recommend the best care packages for each unique circumstance. Upon speaking to Ben, he explained that as CEO his central role is to ensure the company delivers the highest quality care to their patients at all times. This is managed in a number of ways from building innovative technology, to striking up beneficial partnerships. Cera’s professional carers are  the most experienced in their fields and have a passion for helping clients find their spark. ‘Only the top 5% are accepted into Cera to serve clients of all kinds.’

Ben gave us an overview of his work and the journey to where he is today:

Prior to founding Cera, I spent five years doing big data research on how health services are significantly affected by different clinical, social and economic factors. I quickly realised the power that data has to improve services, which made AI an inevitable next step for me, as it has the ability to process millions of data points very rapidly, which ultimately helps us to, for example, intervene early if a patient is showing signs of sickness.

Of course Cera are keen to grow quickly, but Ben explained that it can be challenging to strike a balance between quality and fast growth. ‘Our priority is to ensure that the company delivers a sustained level of excellent quality care to patients, but it’s also important for our business that we continue to consciously develop wherever possible. We manage this through a combination of logistics, technology and training.’

We were keen to find out some more about how AI is transforming healthcare and how far we are from mainstream implementation, as well as some more specifics from Cera. Ben was kind enough to share his expertise with us:

Does AI in healthcare need to be expensive, or will it eventually be available to all patients?

I believe AI will eventually come to be used on a universal scale, but there’s no reason why this has to be especially expensive for the user. Currently, companies use a variety of strategies to attain funding - Deep Mind is an example of this, who were independently funded and then acquired by Google. Other companies, like Cera, will invest specifically in AI to enable a better user experience, which, by association, will have a positive effect on growth and revenue, so in fact, companies that invest in AI stand to benefit immensely.

How are you using AI for a positive impact?

Currently, statistics show that 20% of A&E attendees are preventable. At Cera we’re using AI to help reduce this number by helping to care for elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes. AI plays a significant role in helping our carers work to the best of their abilities, which ultimately helps us to achieve this goal.  

What developments of AI are you most excited for, and which industries do you think will be most impacted?

The most knowledge and experience-based industries will benefit from AI. As there is an ever-increasing amount of medical information available to us, healthcare I believe stands to benefit tremendously from AI, particularly in enabling frontline staff to deliver higher quality services.

There’s so much discussion around AI ‘stealing’ jobs - do you think this is the case, or will we actually see more jobs being created as a result of AI?

I consider AI to be an enabler, not a replacer. It helps people deliver a more responsive, high quality service, but does not need to replace human agents entirely. Our care workers, for instance, remain an essential part of our service at Cera. Even so, AI can equip our staff with enormous amounts of knowledge that they may not otherwise have access to, which can only positively impact the level of care we’re delivering to patients.

If you're interested in learning more about Cera join us at the AI Assistant Summit in London next March 15 & 16. Save 25% on Early Bird passes using the code CYBER25 when you register before next Wednesday November 29.

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