Neil Griffiths – Managing Director TeleTracking

At the time of writing, as we enter the 8th month since the COVID-19 pandemic struck; 6th months since the first lockdown; and having seen acute health services under unprecedented and immeasurable pressure, we have been able to reflect on some of our successes and wrestle with how we will continue to help and support the NHS this winter. The biggest lesson we have learnt, and what our clients tell us about, has been the power of real-time data.

Real-time data not only helps maximise capacity, patient flow and bed availability, but can also be used in addressing issues outside of that: for instance, in supporting Infection Prevention and Control and marshalling scarce resources of PPE to where it is needed.

Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust developed a tool that predicts the need for PPE using its TeleTracking technology. The trust measured the number of interactions between staff and possible and confirmed COVID-19 patients using its TeleTracking patient and staff tracking system alongside real-time location system (RTLS) sensors.

In the early days of the pandemic, the data analysis from March 10th – April 9th allowed the trust to measure the amount of PPE likely to be needed day-by-day and week-by-week by frontline staff. This data allowed the trust to understand that PPE requirements would increase by a factor of 1.5 every 7 days during this period; insight that was critical for patient and staff safety while also supporting financial management.

Other clients have leveraged their real-time data from patient flow location to track and trace patient encounters, allowing them to create and flex the right number of beds and locations for patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 and also creating the maximum number of ‘non-COVID’ beds. This insight was vital in supporting the 1st wave recovery, while creating visibility of data to support timely bed and bed space decontamination.

But as we learn to work within the new constraints and challenges of bringing activity back to pre-COVID levels, while managing restrictions due to ‘social distancing’ and with the COVID-19 virus still in circulation, we see that clients embracing real-time data-led solutions are generally more agile and better informed. In making decisions as they are needed with up-to-date data, they are able to mitigate issues such as slow response times, staff stress and patients spending increased time waiting. A recent figure released in the USA estimated that every additional minute a patient spends waiting in an ED will cost your organisation $100. A $100 from extended lengths of stay, higher medication bills and additional diagnostics. This does not include the additional potential for harm to the patient themselves in a longer hospital stay and delays in accessing treatment.

In the next 12 months capacity will be king. So, the ability to see capacity, demand and throughput in real-time will be vital. We see clients already leveraging real-time patient flow data to rapidly evolve and mature their tactical responses to demand in this new continuum, whilst also being able to quickly extend and balance their scope of patient flow to effectively utilise regional capacity.

So, the question is “do you have a real-time patient flow data?”  If not then why not?