Inspiration

One of the biggest challenges facing the NHS today is a failure to meet defined A&E targets outlined within the NHS Plan, which states that patients attending A&E must either be discharged from or admitted into the hospital within 4 hours (1). The most recent time 95% of patients met this target in England was in Summer 2015. Performance has since been deteriorating (1).

A significant contributor to this deterioration is an inability to accommodate patient admissions from A&E due to a shortage of available beds within hospitals (2) and highly inefficient bed management systems that rely on roaming hospital wards and seeking telephone updates multiple times a day to update bed states/ locate vacated beds (3).

Stats:

  • Over the past 30 years, the number of available hospital beds in England has decreased by more than 50% (2).
  • Occupancy rates for overnight acute beds have also increased: from 87.1% in 2010/11 to 90.4% in 2016/17 (2).

We set out to create a platform with a bed-matching algorithm and user-friendly interface for A&E staff and ward managers to maximize resource utilization for hospital beds.

What it does

Alpha Beds is a platform that optimizes bed management within hospitals via a user-friendly interface for hospital staff. The Alpha Beds algorithm matches demand for hospital beds from A&E to supply within hospital wards to enable meeting 4-hour A&E targets.

Challenges we ran into

  • Identifying a problem to solve
  • Maintaining motivation within later hours of the night
  • Amount of work required to build the interface
  • Different levels of coding experience within the team --> difficulties allocating responsibilities

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Building the application in under 24 hours
  • Good time management to balance hacking and team-bonding

What we learned

  • Learning Python / Machine Learning
  • How to create mock-up applications
  • Inner workings and terminology within the NHS

What's next for Alpha Beds

  • Building a more user-friendly interface
  • Focus groups with healthcare staff to identify areas for improvement
  • 2nd attempts at requesting beds
  • Following NHS encryption guidelines and integrating with existing NHS systems
  • Beta testing within select hospitals

References

(1) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42572110

(2) https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/hospital-beds

(3) https://emj.bmj.com/content/20/2/149

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