Adam Mayer, senior manager at Qlik, discusses the important role that data will play in the hospitals of the future
In healthcare, data is the lifeblood that underpins patient care pathways and process optimisation
Last year the Government in pledged to build 40 new hospitals at a cost of £3.7billion.
But Lord Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Economics Prize, believes this investment is not enough and that ‘we need new ideas’.
And that is why, in November this year, he will award a prize of £250,000 for the best ideas to improve patient care.
The challenge for participants is to come up with an idea about how they would ‘design and plan new hospitals to radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care’.
This is a fantastic initiative to ensure that the investments made today will serve the health service for decades to come.
For those looking to participate, one key element that must be part of any proposal is data.
In healthcare, data is now the lifeblood that underpins everything from informing analysis and patient care pathways, to optimising processes and improving the experience of our key healthcare workers.
To this end, the ‘hospital of the future’ will rely on greater volumes of data being created that must be used to constantly inform and improve processes and services.
In healthcare, data is now the lifeblood that underpins everything from informing analysis and patient care pathways, to optimising processes and improving the experience of our key healthcare workers
And, to ensure future hospital designs don’t become a stagnant ideal that is outdated within 25 years; we must harness the continuously-evolving nature of data to keep learning, improving, and driving better care and connected services.
However, the health service isn’t starting from scratch when it comes to its use of data.
Indeed, some NHS trusts are already putting data at the heart of their operations to optimise service delivery and improve patient care.
And successful applicants can learn a lot from these beacons of best practice as we look towards the next generations of hospitals.
The potential for data and analytics to transform the healthcare industry is massive.
In fact, a study last year by Qlik in partnership with IDC, found that 73% of healthcare organisations said operational efficiencies improved as a result of investments in data management and analytics.
Leading industry innovators are identifying new ways to put data at the heart of the decision-making process in hospitals.
For example, at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust’s Royal Lancaster Infirmary site, the team developed a cutting-edge Analytical Command Centre in its emergency department.
Through a number of interactive screens which present real-time analysis of capacity and demand, including the number of ambulances on the way to the hospital and availability of beds, it allows the team to continuously assess resources against demand.
This is particularly useful for predicting when surges may occur, which subsequently helps the team to optimise the patient experience.
And the results speak for themselves, as the emergency department has reduced delays and increased the percentage of patients triaged within 15 minutes from 65%-95%.
Investing throughout the analytics data pipeline to ensure real-time, hyper-contextual insights inform decisions in the moment will help healthcare organisations achieve a new level of active intelligence
Another great example is Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where empowering the patient flow manager to easily capture data on the number of patients awaiting discharge across different wards with ease, enabled the team to conduct analysis that identified common bottlenecks in the process.
As a result of this, MRI scan waiting times have been reduced from 10 days to just two.
These are just two great examples of how healthcare organisations have benefited from increasing their use of analytics to make faster and more-informed decisions.
But the uses are endless, and many new data applications were spun up in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help health services respond to the heightened demand for services.
Indeed, Freedom of Information data sourced by Qlik found 84% of NHS trusts used data analytics to manage their initial response.
And more than half (55%) of trusts applied analytics to track positive infections of patients, while 22% used analytics to identify potential staff exposure to the virus and to inform testing regimes.
This real-time analysis was critical in helping many organisations understand and manage the COVID-19 risk to other patients and staff.
The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust’s Royal Lancaster Infirmary site uses a cutting-edge Analytical Command Centre in its emergency department to reduce delays and help triage patients
These best-practice examples should be taken into consideration when designing future hospitals.
However, there is still a lot of untapped potential of data in healthcare, which should also be taken into account.
Here are three key areas which must be considered.
Giving data a pulse, and making it the heartbeat of the organisation, will ultimately create a strong foundation in future hospital designs.
From the latest technological developments that leverage powerful forecasting and the IoT, to the important decisions made every day by healthcare professionals to deliver consistently high-quality care; data enables hospitals to continuously optimise and improve service delivery.
Investing throughout the analytics data pipeline to ensure real-time, hyper-contextual insights inform decisions in the moment will help healthcare organisations achieve a new level of active intelligence.
And this approach will ultimately empower hospitals, and the individuals that work tirelessly within them, to drive greater operational efficiencies and improve the patient experience - a critical feature of successful hospital design in the future.