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AI-powered referral platform reduces NHS waiting lists by 30%

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An AI powered healthcare referral platform is helping tackle the UK’s Covid crisis with the ability to reduce hospital waiting lists by a third.

The first eRS compatible solution to be deployed in the NHS has helped 25,000 users in medical and dental practices across the country manage patient demand since the onset of Covid.

The AI-powered platform, Rego, which has been developed over the past decade by healthcare technology company, Vantage Health, enables GPs to refer patients to the right provider within  45 seconds – up to 20 times faster than current systems.

It provides automated GP referrals in one system, which reduces the complexity of outpatient pathway guidance and eliminates manual triage processes.

As a result it has proven to flatten the waiting list curve in 10 months, improve the chances of early treatment and free up essential healthcare resources – saving the NHS over £200 million each year.*

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the technology has been rolled out at Care Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the UK and is thought to have reduced waiting lists by around 30 percent, with just under half of referrals being managed in a primary care setting.

“The technology enables doctors to prioritise patients who need outpatient appointments, whether routine or urgent, and direct them to the correct provider, but there’s also the facility to be able to identify patients who can be managed by the GPs themselves,” said Vantage Health co-founder, David Ezra.

“The need for our product has always been there, but COVID has bought home how essential our platform is at this crucial stage.”

The NHS faces a huge challenge to tackle the backlog of patients due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a target to reduce attendance by up to 50 percent.

Trusts have reported concern over the clinical risk to those with long-term conditions who have not been able to access treatment due to the prioritising of Covid patients.

“The big fear that is being realised is the number of excess deaths we will see due to the focus on COVID patients,” continued David.

“There are some patients who need urgent attention – such as cancer patients  – and you need a system that can filter them out and get them into hospital quickly. Now that we’re seeing a second surge of Covid cases while the NHS tries to keep the doors open to elective care again, you need a reliable system to manage the process.”

Rego uses AI to automate pathways which have been developed by clinicians using local and national guidelines and acts as a decision support tool for GPs, taking into account referral details, medical history, national and local service directories and care pathways.

It  will route the referrals to community services such as physiotherapy or to locally  commissioned specialist outreach clinics, enabling GPs to refer to the preferred option without the need for paperwork.

“We’ve deployed our technology across several CCGs, at pace, and it has had a really big impact.

“We’ve seen that between 40 and 50 percent of requests from GPs are able to be managed in primary care, which is really quite significant.

“Not all of these would have been referred previously, but I don’t believe that would amount to more than 10 percent.”

Based on successful case studies, Vantage  Health has also estimated a total saving for NHS England of 20 million kg of carbon, 135 million miles  of travel and 5.5 million hours of travel time (or 628 years).

“This absolutely needs to happen, to support frontline clinicians to make the best decisions for their patients,” added David.

“The wider impact on public health is going to be – and already has been – enormous.”

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