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Author: Oliver Chan

Getting a grip on data to reduce outpatient waits by up to 65%

“It’s been a real game-changer for us, it’s now used daily on an operational level, to manage areas of performance such as Theatres, Outpatients and A&E and we can now very quickly adapt to changes or share with commissioners".

Getting a grip on data to reduce outpatient waits by up to 65%

As the only hospital serving the town, Rotherham Hospital deals with around 75,000 A&E patients, 55,000 inpatients and 250,000 outpatient attendances each year.

Understanding this huge level of outpatient flow has traditionally been a complex affair. Until recently, managers and clinical staff were forced to manually combine national and hospital-level data spread across multiple systems and spreadsheets. This laborious process meant snapshot reports could only be produced on a weekly or even monthly basis – and were out of date within an hour. As a consequence, service managers often had only a rudimentary grasp of capacity and demand, with waiting lists staying stubbornly high.

Recently, the Trust has enlisted the help of Bradford-based healthcare IT specialists Cloud2 to put in place a near real-time data visualisation tool developed by Microsoft called Power BI.

“We can very quickly plug into different sources of local and national data and all the visualisations update automatically, in real time – you don’t need someone to refresh it manually.”

Minimal cost and dramatic results

Accessed via a desktop computer or via the cloud, the system allows users to pull together data from the hospital’s own databases and national systems, such as eRS and view the information in visually appealing and interactive charts. Constrained by funding pressures, the Trust has rolled out the system at minimal cost but is seeing dramatic results: in little more than six months, it has cut outpatient waiting lists by 65% in some areas.

Having a far better grasp of outpatient flow across the hospital has allowed the Trust to structure its clinical capacity differently, making better use of scarce resources and creating the potential for cost savings in the future. As a result, the Trust, has dramatically reduced patient waiting times after equipping frontline staff and managers with real-time data tools.

For James Rawlinson, the Trust’s Director of Health Informatics, the effect has been transformative:

“Power BI presents engaging visualisations across multiple platforms and fits with our cloud first strategy, enabling staff and partners being able to access information from any connected device, with a low TCO. It’s been a real game-changer for us, it’s being used daily, on an operational level, to manage performance around activity, finances, HR, theatres, outpatient and A&E”.

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