“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. The app is brilliant!”
Carrie Johnson, Senior Sister, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Overview

Infinity is a secure collaboration and task management solution that transforms how healthcare professionals coordinate activity and share critical information. The company consists of clinicians, designers, and software developers addressing workflow and communication challenges.

Infinity Health is working with London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH), a large provider with more than 8,000 staff, serving a population of over one million to improve portering efficiency.

The Chief Information Officer, Sonia Patel, who has a reputation for innovation and “delivering the best digital healthcare,” contacted the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator asking for recommendations as part of Northwick Park Hospital’s “Let’s Get Digital” programme. It put Infinity Health forward, which was subsequently selected to help transform the coordination of patient transfers to improve clinical efficiency and patient experience.

Infinity’s ePortering solution was implemented in the Emergency Department (ED) at Northwick Park Hospital and is now used to coordinate over 100,000 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 has been reduced by six minutes, which translates to a saving of over 10,000 hours of staff and patients’ time each year.

“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 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&E.1

At LNWH, staff went to a fixed location to handwrite porter requests. 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.

On the clinicians’ side, they lack visibility to track the status of portering tasks, 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

Actions taken

In 2018, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust launched the “Let’s Get Digital” innovation programme, and, due to its reputation for supporting NHS organisations to improve services using digital tools, invited the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator (a collaborative programme delivered by MedCity, and London’s three AHSNs – UCLPartners, Imperial College Health Partners and the Health Innovation Network) to put forward relevant innovations.

Infinity Health, a secure collaboration and task management platform that addresses workflow and mobile communication challenges, was put forward for consideration.

Up to that point, the Accelerator had supported Infinity with access to health economists at Imperial College Health Partners. This helped them build their knowledge around evaluation, and consider and plan the KPIs and metrics they would need to collect to demonstrate their impact and make successful business cases to NHS organisations, like Northwick Park.

After the successful introduction from the Accelerator, the Trust decided to go ahead with a small-scale pilot with Infinity, which developed into full implementation in the Emergency Department, based on the pilot’s success.

“The collaboration with Infinity Health demonstrates how working with the right partners genuinely improves the daily working lives of our staff & ultimately, patient care.”

Sonia Patel, Chief Information Officer, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Impacts / outcomes

Infinity’s ePortering solution replaced the manual, paper-based process for requesting porters at LNWH into a truly digital, ‘just in time’ service. Staff now 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 popular taxi services like Uber. 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.

The solution is now used to by more than 500 staff in the ED, the performance of which has significant consequences on the operational efficiency of the entire hospital. In LNWH, Infinity Health coordinates 100,000 transfer requests per year, and has helped reduce cancellations by over 80%. This has resulted in a sustained reduction of six minutes per porter request, which translates to a saving of more than 10,000 hours each year, equivalent to five FTEs.

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.

Infinity has been publicised in the Evening Standard and promoted by Sam Shah (Director of Digital Development at NHS England) and Tara Donnelly (Chief Digital Officer at NHS England), for its work at Northwick Park Hospital.

“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 

Plans for the future 

Infinity Health and LNWH are now exploring the innovation’s use in other clinical settings.

Beyond London, Infinity is looking to scale its ePortering innovation to trusts beyond the geographical reach of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator. It is working with other members of the AHSN Network, and is for example in conversation with Health Innovation Manchester, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, and Wessex AHSN about adoption and spread.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator continues to support  adoption by recommending and making connections with Infinity and NHS organisations, where appropriate.

Opportunities to get involved

Infinity Health would like to bring its potential impact to other NHS organisations across England, and would appreciate introductions to those who could benefit.

As its ePortering and other solutions are further developed, Infinity Health is looking to carry out clinical trials of the technology and would welcome involvement of patients in co-production.

Learn more about Infinity: www.infinity.health @infinityhealth

Start and end dates  

The Infinity ePortering solution was tested and then implemented at Northwick Park Hospital on October 29 2018.

Following eight weeks ofevaluation, Infinity is now standard operating procedure at Northwick Park hospital and is used to coordinate over 100,000 transfer requests per year.

Contacts

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

Media contact 

Rose de Mendonca, Communications Manager, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator
E: rose.demendonca@nhs.net