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Using the cloud to tackle hospital waiting times

Picture: SmartCrowding

COMBATTING overcrowding and improving staff wellbeing is the focus of this new Henley-based company.

SmartCrowding is gearing up to expand its services to the UK in a bid to help hospitals free up patient beds and improve care.

Launched by Øystein Evjen Olsen in 2014, SmartCrowding was previously only found in Norway and offers a cloud-based solution to help hospitals which are running at full capacity.

“We effectively provide a centralised, online hub where everybody in the hospital can see what the flow of patients is like,” Ian Lindsay-Watson, chief operating officer (COO), explained. “Our system overlays a hospital’s patient management system, and lets them assess different indicators and create action plans if something goes wrong.”

According to Mr Lindsay-Watson, Norway’s Stavanger University Hospital has seen waiting times drop by 51% in its emergency departments, thanks to SmartCrowding.

Now, the team has its sights set on working with the NHS too.

“Sometimes, hospitals can’t see the cause of an issue because it may be way down the line,” Mr Lindsay-Watson said. “Problems could stem from outside of your ward or your hospital, and be part of the entire healthcare system.

“If we can cut overcrowding numbers in Norway, imagine what we could do here in the UK during flu season and following the pandemic?”

As UK hospitals continue to work under pressure because of the coronavirus, the COO believes SmartCrowding could not only improve staff wellbeing but also save lives.

“Overcrowding has not come about because of Covid,” Mr Lindsay-Watson said. “It has been spoken about for over a decade, but nobody has found a solution around it.

“The sad truth is that thousands of people have likely died from being neglected, because of overcrowding.”

He said SmartCrowding’s management solution offers a “bird’s eye view” of hospital wards, and allows staff to measure a wide variety of indicators, such as the number of patients in A&E or available ventilators.

And he believes it is essential to get the NHS back on its feet post-pandemic.

“Using anonymised data, we can get people to where they need to be more quickly,” he said. “We can then help hospitals save money, reduce staff burnout and improve overall quality of care.

“And we could have more pandemics, so why not tackle overcrowding now?”

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