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Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust (IHT) is trialling a tool to predict accident and emergency (A&E) admissions so it can bring in extra staff for certain times and days of the week.

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust (IHT) is trialling a data mapping tool to predict accident and emergency (A&E) admissions so it can bring in extra staff for certain times and days of the week.  

Thanks to data mapping software from US geographic information system (GIS) software firm Esri UK, the trust can analyse the type and level of demand for its A&E unit and pinpoint hotspots for certain diseases and admission methods.

The platform allows the hospital to understand the reasons behind visits to its A&E department and the level of demand by cases, average waiting time or mode of travel. It can then analyse these figures over specific timeframes.

IHT believes the software will help it to improve resourcing processes, for example allocating more staff for busy times, thus reducing pressure on resources. It hopes pinpointing areas for intervention in this way will save money while maintaining performance and clinical standards.

The tool, which is hosted on IHT’s on-site data centre, combines location, clinical and financial data analysis and feeds into long-term financial modelling. The front end appears as a ‘management insight dashboard’, Esri UK explained.

The software allows the hospital to try out ‘what if’ scenarios and move to a more sophisticated way of visualising and reporting data to the board, according to finance and performance director Paul Scott.

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The R&D project, which started in spring 2014, “has demonstrated the huge potential of looking at demand from a population rather than individual attendance basis”, Scott said.

He also claimed that the initiative is the “first of its kind in the UK”. IHT thinks the Esri UK tool could put it ahead of other NHS trusts in terms of innovative uses of IT in healthcare provision. 

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