Morecambe Bay NHS Trust creates analytics ‘command centre’ with Qlik

The system has boosted triage and discharge times by creating an integrated view of service capacity and predicting future demands

Hospital scene with medical staff in blue scrubs blurred

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has teamed up with Qlik to create an analytics 'command centre', which has transformed the triage and discharge system by providing insights into treatment across various healthcare pathways. 

The command centre is a physical analytics hub in the hospital, where five large touchscreen displays along the wall present different aspects of the emergency care journey. They offer insights into the ambulances on their way to the hospital and developments in the emergency department, which help staff prepare for the arrival of patients by assessing their needs and hospital resources.

The system has already reaped a range of benefits. The proportion of patients triaged within 15 minutes of arrival at the emergency department has grown from 67 percent to almost 95 percent. The average percentage of patients discharged by midday has increased from 16 percent to around 19 percent, and the amount being cared for in a non-medical ward due to capacity pressures has shrunk from an average of around eight percent to two.

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Rob O’Neill, head of information at UHMBT, believes that the key to success was designing a system to fit the needs of staff.

"The analytics are designed to be really intuitive … The clinicians have the ability within any of the analytical objects to drill down to a patient record level, which is a really important requirement for them,” he told Computerworld. “It is a clinically targeted system, but it also allows a higher-level operational view.”

As evidence of the impact, O’Neill says that system has cut the average time for meetings on patient flow from half an hour to 15 minutes, by offering staff a user-friendly evidence base for their decisions.

IT helps staff spread across a rural geography, covering over 1,000 square miles in the North West of England, to view the same analytics on their phones as those shown on the command centre screens, as well as those working inside the hospital.

O’Neill recalls that just after the system had gone live, one of the emergency department matrons walked into the command centre and immediately started pointing out information on the touchscreens that would help his team access patient acuity.

“He said to us that before they existed to react to the demands placed upon them, but with the tools we've given them, they can see problems before they happen,” he said. “And that helps them to mobilise staff and better prepare for it.”

Why Qlik?

UHMBT chose to develop the system late last year after staff raised concerns about how their tightened budgets would cope with an increasing volume of patients. The hospital was already receiving around 100,000 A&E and 40,000 emergency inpatients a year, and the number was ramping rapidly as winter approached.

They wanted to maximise resources by developing a system that could offer both real-time analysis of events on the emergency care pathway and predictive tools that would help them prepare for future pressures. The Trust’s previous experience of using Qlik Sense convinced them that the solution would offer a flexible analytics system that staff could co-design through an agile development process.

Planning began at the end of September 2018 and the command centre was up and running just months later in December.

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According to O’Neill, the speed of production was made possible by UHMBFT’s clinically driven digital strategy. This allowed the Trust to implement electronic patient records that are now used by 1,350 users at any one time to generate over 200,000 customised forms of data every month, including 14,000 daily drug-record transactions for inpatients.

“It was really that work which meant that the system was at a mature enough level to be able to implement the concept of a command centre,” he said.

In the future, UHMBT plans to install a module that shows the flow of patients through the operating theatres and uses predictive algorithms to intelligently schedule patients into theatre slots.

The organisation is also exploring how understanding the flow of referrals into social care could identify capacity for patients in care settings outside the hospital.

O’Neill believes that adding these updates to the existing system will be straightforward due to its user-driven development process, which can rapidly scale in achievable chunks.

“We've got the ambulance view and the acute hospital view at the moment, but being able to add primary care and post-discharge social care on a modular basis is a really important concept,” he said. “That works for us. And we can evidence return on investment as we go along, which helps us with buy-in.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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