Board-to-ward data analytics cuts A&E waiting times at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

30-minute reduction leads to lower fines and cuts to agency staffing fees

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust has deployed visual analytics across the organisation.

Assisted by the rollout of Qlik analytics among staff from the board and director-level right through to those working on wards, the trust has made millions in efficiency savings while also improving quality of care.

By putting analytics into the hands of employees at the point of decision and empowering data-driven decisions to be made at all levels, its A&E department has been able to decrease patient waiting times by 30 minutes, making WWL one of the top-performing A&E departments in England – and one of the only 10 trusts nationwide to meet the UK Government’s A&E performance targets last year.

WWL is a major acute trust serving the people of Wigan and its neighbouring boroughs.

By promoting analytics at the heart if the organisation, the trust is ensuring high standards in the delivery of patient care.

A large focus for the trust, therefore, was improving its A&E services.

Winter pressures on A&E departments across England show no signs of diminishing year-on-year and the NHS is under increasing pressure to drive efficiencies while cutting costs.

WWL’s executives and business intelligence team therefore needed to find a way to save costs and improve patient care. They decided to do this by encouraging an analytics culture, putting technology into the hands of hospital staff at the point of decision and empowering them to be very much part of the process.

They enabled them to use data to see the whole story, identify patterns, take action, and make decisions that matter. Qlik’s interactive analytics help to build trust in a way that static reporting cannot.

The trust has created an application that provides live A&E intelligence to all staff – doctors, nurses, clinicians and the board - giving a greater understanding of where patients are in their journey through the hospital - improving discharge levels, reducing delays and minimising re-admissions.

With this insight, the trust can also plan for both long-term and short-term staffing as well as presenting a current view of the A&E department and the areas surrounding it that affect patient flow.

The visual management and alerts mechanisms provided by the application help to ensure patients are prioritised in the right order, meaning WWL has reduced its median length of stay in A&E by 30 minutes.

To make the application visible and usable to all staff across the trust – as well as patients and the public - a large 70-inch touchscreen has been installed in A&E.

Among other key information, the dashboard displays the number of patients due through the door and proportion that are likely to need a bed. It also shows patient acuity and their historic admissions information to give a greater understanding of their likely recovery time, helping to prevent capacity issues.

“The dashboard is easily accessible as well as easy to understand and use,” said Dr Stephen Gulliford, A&E consultant at the hospital.

“It allows a clear, visible, real-time update of the situation across the trust at any given time - from unscheduled care through to the provision or adjustment of appropriate workforce and resources to meet the demand.”

Mark Singleton, head of business intelligence, added: “Over the last few years, the trust has produced a number of insightful-yet-intuitive QlikView apps that have helped changed both the culture of the organisation and the perception of data.

“Data is no longer seen as just a way to monitor what happened yesterday, but is now appreciated and seen as a key commodity in helping with pressures faced both today and in the future.

“Our journey and app development started in finance, but now we now have a large range of QlikView apps which support our clinical services and their delivery of safe, effective care.

“Each app has been designed and developed in conjunction with our staff and clinicians to ensure they remain relevant to their work and healthcare.

“As the majority of the apps contain real-time intelligence, users can reflect and get answers to their questions there and then.”

And Rob Forster, director of finance and IM&T and deputy chief executive, said: “Knowing how many patients are likely to be admitted provides the trust with a forward look on bed availability and flags potential capacity issues in the days or weeks to come, something very pertinent to the financial challenges the NHS is facing with reductions in acute beds.

“All those who have seen the application – from our own staff to visitors such as NHS England, the media and a member of Parliament – have commented that they haven’t seen such sophisticated software in this environment and that’s why we strongly believe it is cutting-edge innovation within healthcare.

“We are incredibly proud that it’s been produced by us: an NHS trust with just NHS employees. But we are even more proud of the difference it has made to our services and local population, helping WWL to become one of the best-performing A&E departments in the country.”

Qlik is seeing its apps used more frequently within the healthcare sector. David Bolton, the company’s director of public sector and healthcare, said: “NHS foundation trusts nationwide are under constant pressure to drive efficiencies while cutting costs.

“WWL has shown that giving staff access to data and empowering them to actually bring about change will get the best out of them.

“Reducing A&E waiting times to become one of the top-performing departments in the country is an incredible feat – and truly shows the power of putting data analysis at the heart of the culture and in the hands of all staff.

“We’re thrilled to have helped the trust achieve something that can, ultimately, help save lives – and look forward to working with them even more in the future to continue to help them gain data-driven life-saving insights.”

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