A UCLH team that developed a live bed management tool during the Covid surge in London have been named finalists for a national health data award.
The team, led at UCLH by Drs Steve Harris, Tim Bonnici and Mark White, were highly commended by Health Data Research UK and were placed in the top 3 nationally for their Team of the Year award.
During the pandemic, UCLH became one of the intensive care unit (ICU) surge centres, supporting a network of five north London hospitals. This meant expanding our own ICU beds and staff, and deploying a mobile transfer team to retrieve critically ill Covid-19 patients from smaller, overstretched ICUs.
To help manage critical care beds, staff and equipment, the UCLH team rapidly prototyped and rolled out a live ‘sitrep’ bed management tool which reported in near real time.
The tool supported 434 critically ill patients across north London and helped enable 162 patients to be transferred to the UCLH surge centre from overstretched units across north London. It allowed staff to be allocated where they were most needed and ensured transfer beds were always kept available.
The tool was deployed to new ‘surge’ ICUs at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and at Westmoreland Street, and to specialist emergency and respiratory wards as the pandemic progressed. It became the ‘go to’ bed management tool and remains in use at UCLH today.
The tool is based on the Experimental Medicine Application Platform (EMAP), which through the generous support of UCLH Charity was developed by a multidisciplinary team at UCLH in the two years leading up to the pandemic. EMAP’s aim is to make health care data available for research and innovation in near real time, to speed up clinical decision making and help resource management across entire hospitals.
Traditionally insights from data have lagged behind – with hospitals working on the basis of data that is days or sometimes months old.
EMAP was developed thanks to a collaboration between clinicians, researchers, and software engineers, with the support of the UCLH Biomedical Research Centre and UCLH Charity.
Dr Harris said: “We don’t just want an EHR, we want a system which enables digital health technology interventions, which allows your machine learning or AI to actually do something at the bedside to directly improve patient care or support the processes around that care.”
Key characteristics of the EMAP team include its diversity, including not just software engineers and clinicians but a healthcare designer and a behavioural scientist – who play an invaluable role in looking at how users actually relate to dashboards.
Members also get to understand each other’s worlds with engineers spending time on the critical care unit and clinicians receiving data science and software design training.
EMAP is now being used to look at antibiotic stewardship, managing anti-microbial resistance, identify patients with heart failure patients, and provide ward-level forecasts of bed demand.