Tech Success Awards: The NHS Trust That Trusts In Analytics

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Orlando Agrippa got an NHS Trust from Colchester into business analytics, and won our Public Sector Project Of The Year award

In the summer of 2012, TechWeekEurope launched the Tech Success awards to celebrate IT projects that exceed expectations and make a difference.

Now, it is time to find more about the winners. The award for the most successful public sector IT project of 2011-2012 went to the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (CHUFT), for replacing its Excel spreadsheets with QlikTech’s business intelligence solutions.

CHUFT has used QlikView apps to improve patient care and reduce mortality, beating Harrow Council and the NHS Institute in the race for our Tech Success title.

The project was led by Orlando Agrippa, social director of Business Informatics who was called in to rebuild ageing IT infrastructure and introduce analytics into the Trust’s everyday operations.

Agrippa told us about his work for the hospital, the reasons for choosing QlikView and his views on modernisation of the NHS, the biggest employer in the UK.

Work smarter, not harder

In 2010-2011, CHUFT went through a “significant shakeup” in its structure that involved the appointment of a new Chief Executive. Soon after, Agrippa joined the Trust, having previously deployed QlikView in private companies. “I try to go into organisations and help them transform the way numbers reach the masses,” says the analytics expert.

Tech Success AwardAccording to Agrippa, in the hospital environment, business intelligence solutions can reduce patient waiting times, optimise use of resources and highlight the areas where staff perform well.

“You have some similarities between running IT in a bank and an NHS Trust,” tells us Agrippa. “The intensity is certainly comparable. But we’re not dealing with just the numbers and models: we have real people, real lives, real emotions to consider.”

“If you don’t get the right mix of resources, skills and individuals to treat your patients, the loss is very different,” he adds.

By May 2011, CHUFT had completed one of the fastest QlikView deployments in the country. Agrippa says that the Trust also achieved some of the highest rates of business intelligence use among the countless NHS organisations.

“We started with a hunger to innovate, a hunger to change,” explains Agrippa. “Today, if you want to find information about something, you will probably use search engines. It is the same all around the world. What we wanted to do is tap into this way of thinking, where people can simply query their data in an intuitive way, so they don’t have to ask someone ‘What does this mean?’ or ‘How does this work?’”

The deployment has seen mortality decrease by 13 patients month-on-month and reduced the number of patients staying for longer than 20 days by 17 percent. It has also saved hospital over £30,000 in reporting costs. But the most important change was in the way of thinking.

“What QlikView brings to the table is something called the ‘associated model’, that allows users to link data in a natural, logical way,” says Agrippa. “If you wanted to know what the length of stay within the organisation was, you can do that in 3-4 clicks.”

“With other technologies we would have to build a lot of stacks and cubes and universes to get to that endpoint,” he adds.

Another reason CHUFT chose QlikView is the speed of implementation: “We could not wait 18 months for a massive infrastructure change. We needed it done really quickly.”

Achieve more for less

“We have seen a significant change in the way people work. I wouldn’t say it caused a reduction in workload, but it is a different type of workload. We are seeing business managers, service managers, clinicians ask a different set of questions,” says the analytics expert.

CHUFT hospital“Not just the basic questions like ‘How do you do this?’, but the important ones like ‘How does this relate to that’ and ‘What can we do next?’ That’s when you really start to see business intelligence driving the organisation.”

“Previously, it took us over 200 hours to do a number of reports, and now 75 percent of that time has been saved, and we can instead redirect business analysts to work with hospital staff through projections and business planning. It becomes a different organisation altogether,” tells us Agrippa.

Following the success at CHUFT, he now wants to introduce the same technology to other NHS hospitals – all 162 of them, if possible. “I could easily go and deploy QlikView for banks, and earn a big wad of cash. But, at the risk of sounding cliché, knowing that the person on the other end could be me or a member of my family makes me want to help every single HNS organisation get something like QlikView in.”

Agrippa says that the NHS, together with the rest of the public sector, has access to some incredible, modern tools, but it has to learn how to use them. “In order to meet the NHS productivity and quality requirements, we need to do things differently than 20 years ago. I think one of the key drivers here is the numbers, the intelligence, the business.

“It’s our money, my money that funds the NHS, and it is in my best interest to ensure that we are clear on how we will deliver this overhaul. For every pound paid to the taxman, we’ve got to be able to deliver optimal care. That’s where the challenge is.”

Look out for more stories about Tech Success winners in the coming weeks!

The CHUFT team looks chuffed
The CHUFT team looks chuffed

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