Finnish company C-Quest and the UK’s InFocus Health have launched an international hospital benchmarking initiative to comparatively measure and monitor healthcare efficiencies in hospitals in the UK and Finland, and recommend how technology can improve performance.

The initiative was launched at a 5 November dinner hosted by Pertti Salolainen, the Finnish Ambassador to Great Britain, attended by 45 senior executives of London NHS hospital trusts and E-Health Insider. 

The two firms use macro and micro monitoring of hospital’s performance to identify current inefficiencies and where the introduction of new technologies, such as wireless solutions, can improve performance. 

InFocus Health provides hospital managers and clinicians with key information they need to effectively manage their organisations, derived from national health episode statistics (HES) data.  C-Quest, meanwhile specialises in analysing the processes through which patients must pass on their way to treatment, and how improvements can be made.

Under the initiative InFocus Health’s management information services – InFocus Health – will be used to identify problems, while C-Quest will help identify the causes and recommend solutions.

InFocus Health’s HiPPO21 suite of products are already used by leading NHS trusts such as Leeds University Teaching Hospitals, University College London, St Mary’s and Great Ormond Street to deliver critical management and performance information.

Attendees at launch dinner were invited to submit a set of data to InFocus Health for analysis and comparison with the other London hospitals joining the project and with comparator values derived from HES data.  This will be followed by workshops in January and February. 

A similar service will be offered in Finland. And the final stage of the project will be to hold workshops in Finland and London to allow participating hospitals to compare experiences, anomalies discovered, their causes and the corrective actions taken.

C-Quest, which uses wireless tracking devices to monitor patients and document flows around hospitals, has recently completed a detailed study of how hospital consultants actually spend their time at Gwent NHS Trust.  This follows a similar study carried out in 2002 at Charing Cross Hospitals NHS Trust.

The new study, which focused on one consultant firm at Gwent, found that up to 30% of a hospital doctors’ working time is spent on administrative tasks such as finding paper-based records, completing forms and searching for test results. Anssi Mikolla, Director of Healthcare for C-Quest commented: “After six years of university the house officer spends one third of her time working as a secretary or porter.”  

John Hallam, head of records strategy at Gwent NHS Trust, said that the study had been welcomed by clinicians, who immediately recognised its findings as reflecting their daily work experiences.  He added that it provided clinician buy-in and offered a valuable tool to build the case for IT investments at the trust in electronic records.  “It has clinical ownership and has provided a baseline for future benchmarking.”

Hallam described one of the current problems highlighted by the report: “The study picked up that when junior doctors fill in a radiology report, the first thing the radiology department does next is sort them out into the ones they can read and those they can’t.” 

Speaking of the need to harness technology to better utilise junior doctor’s time and ensure more of it is spent in front-line patient care, Hallam said: “It’s just not acceptable for this scarce resource to be used as a secretary or a porter.”