East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has formed a commercial partnership with a business intelligence firm to market its information dashboards to other trusts.

East Kent Beautiful Information, the trust’s information directorate, will work with Bellis-Jones Hill to market the dashboards, which keep track of real-time hospital information such as patient and staff levels, the average length of stay and the number of major and minor incidents in a department.

Dr Marc Farr, director of information at Beautiful Information, told EHI News the dashboards provide a “clear flow through a hospital, like the systems in place at an airport or the tube”.

Farr said the dashboards are device-agnostic and function as a web service that can be accessed on a PC, tablet or phone, although they “look and feel like an app”.

“When data is updated people can just click in and check it on their phone like finding out a train time,” he said.

The intention of the service is to move away from emailing spreadsheets of information at the end of each day.

The dashboards currently interface directly with specific IT systems, such as CSC’s iSoft patient administration system at East Kent, although Farr said that they can function with other systems where data is difficult to share by the use of e-forms.

“People can tap numbers into an app that then feeds into the dashboard,” he said.

Farr said the decision to form a commercial partnership with Bellis-Jones Hill builds on previous work by East Kent Beautiful Information to encourage NHS trusts to use the dashboards.

Rather than expanding the service by investing in internal commercialisation services, East Kent wanted a simple model of product developer and product marketer.

“We are a hospital that can act as the research lab for technology. We are not a sales and marketing company: we can design a product that Bellis-Jones Hill can then license and sell.”

Farr said there is already an “interesting range of clients” that are interested in the dashboards following their successful rollout at East Kent, which has used the system for 18 months and seen a substantial reduction in bed usage.

He said East Kent Beautiful Information has plans to expand the dashboards’ functionality, including the introduction of a forecasting system to predict arrivals, discharges and bed needs at hospitals.

The trust also plans to share dashboard data with clinical commissioning groups and GPs for planning purposes, similar to their existing ability to share information with hospices.

The commercial value of innovation in the NHS is one of four principles outlined by Beautiful Information on its website, where it says the current marketplace is dedicated to two models: payment for services to the private sector and sharing within the NHS.

“There is a third way, the commercialisation of good ideas from within the NHS.

“Where genuine value is attached to products and services developed within the NHS, the gains in terms of efficiencies or improved clinical performance will always be far greater than when an idea is shared for free.”