Impact and assessment tool boosts COVID-19 capacity planning for NHS hospitals

A new tool from Draper & Dash exploits global, national and local data to help hospitals to plan more effectively for their own COVID-19 peaks – and prepare for the long-term impact of the pandemic.
By Piers Ford
02:17 AM

The new COVID-19 Impact and Assessment Tool (IAT) from healthcare AI and predictive data innovator Draper & Dash is helping NHS trusts to predict peak capacity and plan their resources more effectively in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tool is a COVID-19-specific version of the company’s underlying predictive analysis technology. It allows trusts to view and analyse in real-time national Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data, together with a number of live COVID-19 global data sources, and models the likely impact of increased demand at a local and system level.

The IAT is able to show immediate impacts on beds and staff in a range of what-if scenarios. Another feature allows the integration of pathology and radiology data, which runs live against Emergency Department (ED) activity. This means providers can assess the impact of COVID-19 on a daily basis, and model their response accordingly.

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

The tool is already being used by a number of NHS trusts in England, as well as SEHA Group– the Abu Dhabi Health Services company in the Middle East - with anecdotal evidence showing a rapid improvement in their ability to plan better, and anticipate their own peaks as the crisis continues.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

Draper & Dash CEO Orlando Agrippa said the IAT essentially flips the company’s existing predictive technology, bringing in as much historical data as possible from every hospital that can provide it, and applying multiple what-if scenarios based on different countries’ profiles, overlaid on a specific hospital catchment or demographic.

“This means we can say when a hospital might see demand peak in COVID-19 or normal circumstances,” he said. “But we can also supplement that with a lot of additional insight, bringing in other factors from across the country.”

Agrippa said the speed of development was one of the hardest challenges the company has ever faced, involving several data gathering calls with hospitals every day.

The COVID-19 IAT itself began as a what-if project when some Draper & Dash employees returned from Chinese New Year vacations in late January/early February with reports from Wuhan, and the company started looking at how hospitals might be better prepared for such an outbreak from a data perspective.

“To begin with, we thought, this is interesting – how would be able to help if that happened here?” said Agrippa. “Let’s start building something, just in case. Weeks later, we were in full scale COVID-19 response mode.”

WHAT'S THE TREND 

The IAT has had a significant impact in SEHA hospitals, where it has helped to create a large amount of bed capacity – including private hospitals and hotels.

“They are no longer triaging and admitting patients in the way they were before,” said Agrippa. “Now that they are using it ‘in anger’, they don’t have to plan their COVID-19 response in abstract.”

Agrippa said that while NHS hospital response in the current wave of the pandemic is in the spotlight, in the long run, the IAT’s insight report  capability will also help trusts to prepare for a second coronavirus wave and beyond.

This is likely to include the build-up of other issues that will put capacity under long-term strain, including the postponement of elective surgery and a growing waiting list of patients for the diagnosis and treatment of non-COVID-19 conditions. The big challenge, he said, will be helping hospitals to triage these patients

ON THE RECORD

“When the SEHA leadership team reviewed the COVID-19 IAT, we felt that it would provide important insights into the COVID-19 virus and also help predict the virus trend and enable us to better prepare our response strategy,” said George Kapitelli, CFO SEHA Group in Abu Dhabi. “This is being used to enable SEHA to get in front of the required demand for beds, in particular ICU beds for the more seriously impacted patient.”

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented global healthcare challenge and I am not sure that we can ever be totally ready, but we are certainly more prepared thanks to the insights from the IAT and are using this tool to support our planning leading to increased bed capacity at different levels to support quarantined, acute and critical care patients. The massive challenge to fight the virus continues.”