NHS Trust unlocks AI efficiencies in patient-centred care

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) have built a tool that targets health inequalities, leading to 700 more patients seen weekly without added staff and a 6% boost in clinic activity.

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In collaboration with​​ IBM Consulting and Celonis SE, UHCW analysed over half a million pseudonymized patient journeys through the trust’s operational data, as well as in-person research and interviews with staff at the centre of the process. Pseudonymized demographic data was layered over this analysis, ensuring that findings and interventions did not exacerbate health inequalities. This unique approach led to improvement opportunities and interventions in a period of weeks as opposed to months.

Professor Andy HardyProfessor Andy Hardy, Chief Executive Officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said, “Having applied this approach to our outpatient and theatre processes, UHCW NHS Trust is now leading in the adoption of process mining on behalf of NHS England. We are excited to see the results of harnessing IBM’s watsonx generative AI platform to the identified areas of these processes, which we hope will accelerate improvements even further”.

One such improvement focused on UHCW NHS Trust’s approach to missed patient appointments, which are more common among those with high deprivation scores. Having identified a spike in last-minute cancellations after two SMS reminders had been sent, an IBM Garage team was used to explore how to improve the likelihood of re-booking those appointment slots, finding that by adapting the timing of these text reminders, the trust could increase timely cancellations in the cohort eligible for two text messages, allowing the potential for those appointment slots to be reused.

With patients now cancelling or rescheduling their appointments earlier, the trust now has the option to re-purpose these slots to boost clinic activity by up to 6%. This efficiency, in turn, helped support UHCW NHS Trust to see around 700 extra patients each week as part of its overall elective recovery interventions. Current projections conducted by the UHCW estimate that this extra activity could contribute to a 10%–15% reduction in the overall backlog.

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