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News

Ardentia’s Activity Flow Analytics improve business reporting for two NHS Trusts

Ardentia : 15 March, 2011  (Special Report)
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust is improving business reporting and management with Ardentia’s Activity Flow Analytics.
Early adopters in the NHS acute sector are embracing the latest generation of IT to help them adapt to an increasingly competitive environment. Changes in commissioning, and the rush towards foundation trust status, mean that health service managers have rapidly to find effective ways to protect and increase their market share. They need to track patient referrals, for all specialties, and benchmark their performance against peers and competitors. But finding effective and affordable software is not necessarily easy.

One option is Activity Flow Analytics (AFA), specifically developed for the changing market by Stafford-based healthcare IT specialist Ardentia. Among the first users are the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, serving the Nuneaton and Bedworth area, and West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust.

Retaining market share
The George Eliot Trust, which provides medical, surgical and maternity care to around 250,000 people, found its existing solution was insufficiently robust, and needed ways to improve business reporting and management.

Heather Norgrove, Trust Commercial Director, said: “It is very important for us to retain market share, and if we are failing to do this we like to react quickly to make the necessary changes. Ardentia’s AFA allows us to accurately track and assess our referral patterns and perform quick analysis to confirm our market position, which reveals where improvements can be made. We chose AFA for its in-depth reporting capabilities, flexibility and competitive pricing against alternative solutions.”

AFA is a fully-hosted service that requires no implementation. While there are alternatives on the market they tend to be pricier and less useful some only allow users to compare their performance against near neighbours, rather than across the whole of England.

The solution has an intuitive, browser-based GUI that visualises and geographically maps referral volumes, and enables clinicians and managers to drill down into referral data by speciality, HRG, location, patient age, gender, and time period. This helps in understanding referral flows and case mixes in detail, and supports analysis of how these patterns change over time. AFA also provides benchmarking data on mortality and readmissions within 30 days.

One step ahead of the competition
West Suffolk was quick to recognise the benefits of such a system and invested in it when AFA was first launched last year. One of the prime benefits it has brought is that they can now track referrals in the geographical areas which are most vulnerable to competition.

Gareth Corser, the trust’s Director of Strategy, said: “The AFA solution allows us to track and assess our referral patterns accurately, and confirm our market position. It’s useful when monitoring border areas the towns and villages on the edge of our catchment, as these often have a wider range of referral choices for patients. The solution has been particularly successful in helping us to understand changing referral patterns to support corporate business planning processes. The trust’s business manager attends clinical meetings to discuss referral patterns with clinicians and helps them to understand changes in referral patterns. AFA has helped us to use our resources in the most effective way, to improve income, quality of care and value for money.”

Need for business intelligence
According to Ian Rogerson (Ref 1), former Chief Executive of a PCT who is now an independent consultant, it is important for trusts to move swiftly. “The most forward-thinking trusts have already started introducing the latest software for identifying who is referring to them, and who is going elsewhere. This is vital intelligence, especially in the emerging world of GP consortia. Because the effects of losing large business to another trust could have an enormous impact on the range services you can offer. Those who act now will be in a much stronger position than their competitors, and those that don’t risk getting left behind” Rogerson said.

Ref 1 - Chief Executive Newcastle under Lyme Primary Care Trust from April 2002 to October 2006. Rogerson now provides consultancy services for a range of Trusts and GPs and Ardentia is among his clients.
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