NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group has gone live with a nursing service using AI to identify patients at risk of needing urgent and emergency care.
It began the full roll out of the system, developed by health technology company Health Navigator, in August, following a trial that ran in 2017. The company said it is the first service of its kind in the UK.
It also involves York Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as a partner.
The service involves using predictive algorithms, based on learnings from 30,000 patients over 10 years, to use information on their health signs in assigning a risk score to each patient. It runs on NHS trust servers to minimise the volume of data transferred.
Scores are then manually screened by registered nurses to decide which patients to recruit to Navigator’s Proactive Health Coaching service, a mixture of telephone and face-to-face contact designed to help them manage their conditions.
A randomised control trial showed that among those supported by health coaching there was a 36% reduction in A&E attendances. It also showed a 30% reduction in unplanned hospital admissions and 25% fewer planning admissions for patients under Vale of York CCG.
In addition, the relevant patient activation measures – the metric of how well they are equipped to self-manage their conditions – improved by more than 30%, according to Health Navigator.
Subsequently, Vale of York expanded the contract in April of this year to cover 1,800 patients, with most of those now enrolled into the service.
Fiona Bell, lead officer for primary care at NHS Vale of York CCG, said: “High emergency admissions are a system problem, not just the responsibility of secondary care. A lot of people go to A&E if they are feeling anxious about their health or they need reassurance.
“We needed to find a way to support these patients to help them understand their conditions better, make life changes which will improve their health and know which services to access when they need support.
“From the local RCT, we found that 55% of patients felt much more engaged with their care, whilst 84% of people reported an improved quality of life and having more confidence in managing their conditions. These results are really impressive and have a huge impact on patients’ everyday lives.”
Health Navigator said it has been estimated that 25-35% of urgent and emergency care is avoidable and costs the NHS £6 billion per year. It claimed the project has shown the potential to reduce the pressure on healthcare services.
Bell added: “If we can replicate the results from the RCT trial on a larger scale then we are confident that we will have a significant and positive impact on reducing growth in A&E attendances and non-elective admissions.