Date of release: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NHS to get vital help from Greenwich Possible shortages of hospital beds, blockages in A&E and hold ups in ambulances at hospitals could be avoided thanks to university expertise.

Diego Duarte, a PhD student, is working at Transforming Systems (TS), a Greenwich-based company that specialises in data analysis and problem solving in the health sector.

Working with the university, he is developing and implementing a software application which predicts the growth in pressure on public health systems.

Diego is with Transforming Systems as part of a three-year project, led by Dr Chris Walshaw and supported by Dr Nadarajah Ramesh, both from the university's Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Humanities.

Dr Walshaw says: "Working with a number of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in London and the South East of England, Diego is using analytics to look for potential hot spots and predict a shortage of vital resources, such as hospital beds or demand in A&E departments.

"This means resources can then become better managed. TS's systems provide a whole system view across multiple health organisations. So being able to predict when a health environment comes under pressure will allow the different health organisations to jointly make appropriate decisions to mitigate the pressure. Currently the company is selling in to nearly a quarter of CCGs in the UK but is aiming to fill the whole UK market.

"The project is good for the university as it will feed directly into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of statistical and predictive analytics, as well as the visualisation of large complex data sets.

"It will use current research expertise to develop new research opportunities and projects in the area of predictive modelling within a health environment, and provide impact case studies for Research Excellence Framework 2021. It could potentially also lead to a new Master's programme."

Diego adds: "This is rewarding and challenging work. Managing the project, the expectation, building and transferring knowledge, and delivering outcomes, is a big task.

"Using shared data and expertise from the NHS and the university, with the computing resources of TS, the aim is to produce results that will impact in better patient care."

TS provides a suite of applications, developed with the university, known as the single health resilience early warning database (Shrewd). It was developed in 2009 after observing the challenges of preparing for and responding to that year's swine flu epidemic. The developed applications drew on work from the Department of Computing and Information Systems which looked at how systems often fail in complex multiagency environments, such as a health environment.

The project's total value is £213,303, including £142,913 from Innovate UK, with Transforming Systems paying the rest of the money.

TS has been working closely with Greenwich for two years, using the resources of Greenwich Bright, the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Humanities Enterprise Centre. Through Greenwich Bright, TS has employed a number of FACH students to be part of their software development team, gaining real world experience and improving their opportunities for future employment. This partnership has led to the development of this Knowledge Transfer Partnership, as well as a number of Greenwich Bright graduates being taken on full time by TS.

Story by Public Relations