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East Kent Trust venture builds on A&E dashboard



Beautiful Information begins to use model developed for accident and emergency information for other functions in healthcare

A commercial informatics venture jointly owned by an NHS trust is planning to expand its operations with the creation of a number of additional dashboards.

Beautiful Information, which is co-owned by East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, already provides a dashboard for accident and emergency operations, and according to one of its owners is now looking at providing similar services in areas such as RTT (referral to treatment) and HR.

Marc Farr (pictured), director of information for the trust and one of the individual owners of the venture, old UKAuthority of the plan at the Civica Expo conference.

He said the A&E dashboard is currently the company's main software product, used by the East Kent Hospitals Trust along with a handful of other hospitals and care commissioning groups in the county.

It provides real time information on features such as the number of patients in the department, average waiting times, how many operations are required, the number of beds required and delayed transfers of care (when a patient should be transferred to another department or agency).

“We're rolling the dashboard out to look at other metrics,” he said. “Last week we did a cancer dashboard, and we think we can very quickly do an RTT dashboard.

“But we also think we can do staffing data, agency spend, sickness rates, mandatory training compliance. You imagine that on a phone for a director of HR, that's different to what you would usually get which would be characterised by monthly reports. It's the principle of using the data in much more real time.”

Investment issue

Farr said that Beautiful Information was set up as a public limited company as it allows more scope for attracting future investment.

“We had been doing it for a couple of years through the hospital and been able to find some extra resource for purposes such as funding for iPads, and had been able to generate some extra income, but a year ago said 'Let's set it up on its own',” he said. “If we want to secure venture capital a plc is the best setting for that.”

It has secured investment from the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network. Farr said the company has a broad purpose to work on information solutions for simplicity and transparency in the health service, and is involved in some thought leadership, training and mentoring.

He also made a case, emphasising it is a personal opinion, for initiatives in sharing patient information to develop at a local level, with the potential for trusts to pick up each other's solutions, rather than being led at a national level.

“I don't think you can create this stuff nationally, I don't think it works, and the experience of Connecting for Health bears that out,” he said. “But what you are seeing is lots of good examples of people starting to do it themselves locally, building it out from the ground.”

He added that he thinks NHS organisations will develop slightly different systems, but “I think there's scope to coordinate more closely a lot of the data reporting, and that's an opportunity for us”. This could take the form over the next five years of more trusts having identical board reports or dashboards.

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