New technology cutting waiting times for patients in Dorset

Patients are waiting less time for operations in the south west thanks to new software to improve theatre scheduling.

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust is using the software to align their waiting list with information such as staff rosters and annual leave to improve scheduling for patients and staff.

This allows managers and clinicians to plan their theatre schedules well in advance and ensure they are making as much use of their surgical theatres as they can.

Since adopting the tool, the trust has created the potential capacity for an additional 2,500 surgical treatments per year and is booking patients in for appointments further in advance than they ever have.

Dorset is using that extra theatre capacity to provide care to those patients who are most in urgent need as well as the longest waiting patients.

The trust care co-ordination solution (CCS) has two parts, a waitlist tool and a theatre scheduling module.
The waitlist tool connects data from multiple sources to produce an operationalised waiting list that is easy to use, with all the information staff needed in one place.

Then the theatre scheduling solution connects the operationalised waitlist with annual leave, rostering data sources to create a ‘single source of truth’ about each theatre session.

Taken together, this software allows clinicians to fill any underused slots on theatre schedules and plan surgeries further in advance – which gives patients more notice and leads to fewer cancellations as a result.

Mark Major, Deputy Group Director of Operations – Surgical Care Group, said: “This solution is transformational and implementing new technology to support different ways of working has been motivational for those staff involved, whilst helping to provide greater access to treatment for our patients.

“We had disparate systems across our three sites and different theatre planning processes, and no single version of the truth in terms of a patient tracking list.

“This tool has helped us to align processes and come out the other side with a single planning framework. It’s been a hugely positive experience and has made a significant difference to our patients and staff.”

Following the success at Dorset, NHS England is funding the deployment of the solution in trusts across the country – ensuring that patients are seen faster and in the right order.

NHS England is currently procuring federated data platform software for the NHS, which will provide each integrated care system and trust with cutting-edge technology enabling them to use their data and information more efficiently to develop and share innovative solutions to better manage capacity, reduce waiting lists, deliver better care and improve outcomes for patients.

The capabilities this tool provides will be available through the federated data platform in order to provide trusts with the information they need to understand patterns, solve problems and plan services for their local populations and patients.