Predictive Analytics: An emerging asset in the healthcare industry


Predictive analytics is a fast-growing area of informatics which is being strategically applied across a significant number of sectors in the UK and globally. 

Examples range from local authorities using predictive analytics to process data on commuter traffic to support the roll-out of the charging infrastructure for electric cars, to hospitals using insights to plan optimum patient care and efficient use of resources, most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In healthcare, predictive analytics can process and evaluate enormous amounts of historic and real-time information to create valuable forecasts, predictions and recommendations on anything from individual patient care to wider public health trends.

Elland-based The Health Informatics Service (THIS), which is hosted by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), has developed and delivered predictive analytics models to improve care and services at the trust’s two hospitals - Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and its community health services.

It can assess tens of thousands of data points ranging from a patient’s condition on arrival at hospital, including whether they arrived in an ambulance, car or by foot, to their individual medical records and broader socio-economic or demographic information, such as their home postcode and ethnicity. 

With this data, predictive analytics can be used to identify the best course of treatment for that patient. What’s more, it also helps to predict patient outcomes such as short-term risks, like heart failure; and the likelihood of any longer-term obstacles, such as a patient being re-admitted to hospital, or even missing a future medical appointment. These are insights which provide the opportunity for healthcare organisations to be more proactive and more effective overall. 

Pressures, trends and developments

In 2020-2021, CHFT cared for more than 80,500 men, women and children as inpatients, spending at least one night in hospital, or as day cases. There were also 348,000 outpatient attendances; 125,000 A&E attendances and 4,500 babies delivered. There were some 273,500 adult services contacts by its community teams as well as 54,500 contacts with its therapy services.

Predictive analytics has helped hospital teams estimate bed occupancies and staffing requirements from different departments through the turbulent peaks and troughs of the pandemic. It contributed significantly to decisions needed on, for example, when to transfer surgeons out of operating theatres or endoscopy into ICU services for patients with Covid-19.

As Covid-19 cases began to decline, predictive analytics was used to plan for de-escalation across the hospitals, which included the return of surgeons to their usual operating theatre roles for elective surgeries; important data given the backlog in elective care.

Julian Bates is THIS’s Director of Information. He says: “Predictive analytics is developing all the time. Some work we’ve done recently analysed patients coming into A&E. Because of all the data we now have, and based on half a dozen criteria, we can predict with 90 per cent accuracy whether a patient will be admitted to hospital, or sent home. 

“We’ve also done another piece of work looking at the mortality rates of patients admitted to hospital, and even if they are then sent home. Based on what information has been captured about their stay in care, we can predict mortality rates to quite an accurate level. 

“We are speaki to clinicians regularly to get more ideas of how predictive analytics can help them.”

Hardware, software and bespoke solutions

Having reliable, secure and intelligent hardware and software is a crucial requirement to enable healthcare organisations to take full advantage of predictive analytics. 

It requires technical infrastructure such as a data warehouse and a portal to access workstreams like the Knowledge Portal Plus or a Covid ICU Prediction App which THIS has developed with extensive knowledge of the needs of healthcare providers at the core. These workstreams are supported by highly skilled and experienced analysts who can extract the valuable insights they can provide.

Specialists at THIS can advise on, and provide the full extent of of these key requirements to help integrate a bespoke predictive analytics system into NHS healthcare organisations. By partnering with THIS, predictive analytics can be easily co-ordinated to help reduce operational costs, improve patient outcomes, and increase the effectiveness of an organisation’s resourcing.

Contact us to find out how we can help you.

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