“Porters are visibly happier and happy porters make everyone happier. Nurses like knowing the status of their jobs. Escalating a request is so easy now and it’s preventing breaches. Infinity is brilliant!”
Carrie Johnson, Senior Sister, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Overview

Infinity Health is a digital health company providing a more efficient way to manage health and care tasks. Its digital platform – called Infinity – provides a platform where health and care staff log, share and coordinate tasks, providing real-time visibility. It helps connect colleagues from within and between specialties, departments, and even organisations, to coordinate care, and supports the operation of virtual teams.

Ultimately, Infinity replaces inefficient and unsafe methods of task management in healthcare, like paper and handwritten notes, spreadsheets, bleeps, and phone calls.

Infinity Health has been working with London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH), which serves a population of over one million people, since 2018. Initially, work centred around transforming the way portering in the Emergency Department was coordinated – moving away from a paper-based system. The partnership now spans several departments and projects, including portering and clinical task management in the community.

The former Chief Information Officer (CIO), Sonia Patel (now Director of Levelling-Up and Digital and System CIO at NHSX), had a reputation for innovation. She contacted the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator asking for recommendations as part of Northwick Park Hospital’s “Let’s Get Digital” programme. Infinity Health was subsequently selected to help transform hospital portering services to improve clinical efficiency and patient experience.

Infinity’s portering solution was implemented in the Emergency Department (ED) at Northwick Park Hospital and is now used to coordinate over 220,000 transfer requests per year. Staff request a collection or patient transfer using secure mobile devices and porters accept and share activity in real-time. The average time to complete a request was initially reduced by six minutes, which translated to a saving of over 10,000 hours of time in the first year – the equivalent of five full-time members of staff.

“We have been delighted to see Infinity Health develop over its time with us, and improve its offering via a high level of engagement with the Accelerator. Infinity’s adaptability to NHS organisations’ needs has meant that it has helped smooth the process of transferring patients across the hospital and save time for busy ED staff, who can then spend more time on care.”

Jenny Thomas, Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator

Challenge / problem identified

Millions of porter requests are coordinated every year in the Emergency Department (ED), but delays in transferring patients to investigations or ongoing care impacts patients awaiting admission. The median waiting time for all patients increased from 134 minutes in February 2012 to 165 minutes in February 2019. In major EDs, 18.5% of patients waited longer than four hours in 2018-19. At 70 trusts, more than one in five patients spent over four hours in A&E1 , since 2012, 4-hour wait performance in EDs across the NHS has been in decline2.

At LNWH’s ED, staff went to a fixed location to hand write porter requests on a sheet of plain paper. Additional information was rarely communicated, so porters didn’t know who made the request, the patient’s name or the equipment required. Porters returned to this location to pick up the next job. This lengthened the process and ultimately increased patient waiting times. Additionally, the portering cancellation rate was 39%, for unknown reasons.

1. The previous method of requesting porters in the Emergency Department at Northwick Park Hospital

On the clinicians’ side, they had no way to track the status of portering requests, and inconsistent communication between clinical and operational teams resulted in an inefficient and frustrating process.

1 Baker, c (2019). NHS Key Statistics: England, May 2019, Briefing paper Number 7281, House of Commons

2 Nuffield Trust (2021). A&E Waiting Times. Accessed January 2022: www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/a-e-waiting-times

Actions taken

In 2018, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH) launched the “Let’s Get Digital” innovation programme, and through the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, invited Infinity Health to pitch their innovation. Infinity allows health and care staff to log, share, and coordinate tasks on a real-time task list, from any internet-enabled device.

After the introduction from the Accelerator, the Trust went ahead with a pilot of Infinity, which, following its success, developed into full implementation in the Emergency Department and subsequently several more parts of the hospital.

Before then, the Accelerator had given Infinity Health access to advice sessions from health economists at Imperial College Health Partners, which had helped the company build its knowledge around evaluation. The opportunity at LNWH allowed Infinity Health to put this knowledge into practice and design an evaluation to demonstrate their impact on hospital efficiency, safety, and staff experience.

The partnership has since expanded to coordinate hospital portering requests in other departments and sites at LNWH. Infinity is used for clinical task management in the early supported discharge and rapid response team (STARRS), which supports patients to receive treatment at home or be discharged sooner from hospital. This project alone is helping to increase service capacity by approximately 55%, without increasing the number of staff, and was shortlisted for a HSJ Partnership Award.

At the time of writing (January 2022), Infinity was also being used in six other NHS Trusts to fulfil a range of objectives including out of hours bleep reduction at Somerset Foundation Trust, and COVID-19 lateral flow testing monitoring for more than 15% of frontline NHS staff.

“The collaboration with Infinity Health demonstrates how working with the right partners genuinely improves the daily working lives of our staff and ultimately, patient care.” – Sonia Patel, Chief Information Officer, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

“Working with Infinity Health has helped us to improve how patient related tasks can be allocated, accepted, and tracked at the touch of a button. This has reduced interruptions from bleeps, releasing time back to doctors, and contributing to a safer, less stressful working environment during the night.

“Senior colleagues at the trust are able to gain a better understanding of what’s happening across the hospital, meaning they can more effectively support our junior doctors with team working and ensuring they have more time to take breaks.

“Infinity Health is part of a fantastic change for our night services, and we are delighted with the support it has given to our teams.” – Dr Luke Gompels, Chief Clinical Information Officer, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Impacts / outcomes

Infinity’s hospital portering solution replaced the manual, paper-based process at LNWH into a truly digital, “just in time” service.

Staff submit porter requests from anywhere in the hospital, using secure mobile devices, and can easily escalate urgent tasks. Porters accept and share their activity in real-time, similar to taxi-hailing apps.

Notifications alert key staff if issues arise, whilst reporting dashboards reveal business insights, for example how long certain tasks take and how many jobs are completed in a time period. A complete audit trail is recorded for all activity, including reasons for cancellations, which feeds into future planning and improvements.

More than 1,200 staff at the trust now use Infinity to make over 220,000 portering requests each year, and the cancellation rate has reduced by over 80%. The performance of the emergency department has significant consequences for the operational efficiency of the entire hospital, so this impact is considerable.

In terms of time-saving, using Infinity saved six minutes per porter request, which in the first year equated to 10,000 hours saved – the equivalent to five full-time members of staff. Now that the partnership has expanded beyond the initial 500 staff, this figure is likely to be far greater.

The overarching impact is that the right information is being shared with the right people, at the right time. Porters now know who requested the transfer, the patient’s name and any additional requirements, meaning that patients experience a far more streamlined and coordinated service. Infinity automatically escalates requests for critical patients, expediting diagnosis, treatment and appropriate transfer, which further improves efficiency and patient outcomes.

Clinicians and porters have told Infinity that they can now work together as a team, connected by technology.

“It has changed our lives, everyone now works as a team. We have more time to do our job, I love it more than anything else. I would recommend it 100%.” – Cirtis Lozane, Porter Supervisor, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

The project won a HSJ Award and HTN Award for its impact and was also named as a finalist in the HSJ Partnership Awards.

Plans for the future 

Infinity Health is now scaling its portering and clinical task management solutions nationally with support from the NHS Innovation Accelerator and the AHSN Network.

Infinity Health is part of a nationally-led Elective Recovery initiative, which explores ways of reducing the elective backlog and getting the NHS back on track. Working with clinical partners, Infinity is running pilots to establish personalised outpatient programmes (POPs), support remote monitoring, and coordinate clinical and operational tasks efficiently.

Infinity Health is part of the Department for International Trade and Healthcare UK’s digital health export playbook. The “Beyond 100” playbook promotes the best UK healthtech companies overseas., and showcases 163 leading digital health innovators.

Opportunities to get involved

Infinity Health is looking to support more NHS organisations with digital task management – helping to reduce the reliance on bleeps, paper and handwritten notes, spreadsheets, and other inefficient methods of communication and collaboration.

Demonstrations and discussions can be requested at https://infinity.health/contact or by emailing hello@infinity.health

Infinity also regularly holds events, hosts interviews with leaders in digital health, and shares key news and analysis through its mailing list, which you can sign up to here.

Learn more about Infinity. @infinityhealth

Start and end dates  

Infinity’s portering solution was tested and then implemented at Northwick Park Hospital in October 2018. It is now standard operating procedure at Northwick Park hospital and is used to coordinate over 220,000 transfer requests per year.

Contacts

Dr Jo Garland, Clinical Director, Infinity Health
E: jo@infinity.health

Media contact 

Rose de Mendonca, Head of Communications, Infinity Health
E: press@infinity.health