Patient flow is made up of countless moving parts, involving multiple stakeholders and intricate systems. This nuanced problem cannot be tackled with single broad-stroke solutions, nor can it be resolved with hundreds of tiny tools that don’t fully mesh. Both of these traps are easy to fall into and result in systems that are either needlessly complicated or lacking in essential functionality.
VitalHub has found the perfect balance, tackling patient flow with an end-to-end solution of multiple robust products that address the individual components of patient flow, meshing easily with products beyond its ecosystem. With over 40 years of combined experience in the healthcare industry, Mike Sanders and Lisa Riley of VitalHub UK are experts in patient flow. Having both played integral roles in shaping patient flow as we know it, they form a powerful team.
Mike Sanders has been in healthcare for over 20 years and was involved in the first-ever flow management solutions in primary and secondary care. He now helms VitalHub UK, a powerful ecosystem of ten different former SMEs across four divisions: Patient Management, Healthcare Intelligence, Mental Health, and Workforce and Compliance.
Lisa Riley, VitalHub’s Deputy Chief Executive, has been in healthcare her whole adult life. She spent much of her childhood in hospitals with her father and ‘when we lost him, I was on a mission: I was going to keep everyone alive.’ A nurse by trade, she spent much of her NHS career in senior management roles where, at one of the worst performing trusts in the country at that time, she created the Medway Discharge To Assess model, which was then seen as the national gold standard. On the back of this work, she subsequently joined the NHSE/I ECIST Team, working on improving UEC patient flow up and down the country.
While working with trusts who were struggling with their performance in urgent care pathways, she came across SHREWD, a digital system that she could see making a real difference, and was literally saving lives. Wider System delays led to her losing her stepdad and her brother, making this issue very close to her heart. After 20 years in the NHS, she moved to join SHREWD.
SHREWD was later acquired by VitalHub, where she met Mike.
As one of the ten companies acquired by VitalHub, SHREWD now forms an essential part of its solution portfolio. Each of the ten companies was successful in its own right, achieving significant penetration and good reputations within the NHS. From this strong foundation, VitalHub UK sought to build something a little bit different - not a pathway, but an ecosystem.
The VitalHub UK Ecosystem
Healthcare is typically viewed as a linear journey, Mike notes. Solutions are often built around this idea that ‘you go to the doctor or the hospital, you're treated, you go home.’ However, Mike and the VitalHub UK team know it’s never actually that straightforward; ‘with our portfolio of solutions, our strategy and our vision is to provide an end-to-end ecosystem, that caters for the often unexpected and disjointed realities of the patient journey.
Throughout their journey, patients can be seamlessly tracked at each stage of their pathway, and their care managed through multiple Vitalhub UK solutions. From preoperative assessment with Synopsis to instant visibility of whole-system data with SHREWD, patient flow can be viewed at a glance or drilled down into for granular information for providers and patients.
Waiting lists, for example, can be improved by both patients and providers: Trusts can identify long waiters through MCAP (Making Care Appropriate for Patients), then use MyPathway to contact those patients and see whether they are still eligible or still want that appointment. MyPathway can also empower patients to make self-referrals only when they feel they need them, reducing unnecessary follow-ups.
Working as an independent ecosystem, or integrated alongside other suppliers, VitalHub UK’s solutions can be scaled anywhere from individual departments to whole ICBs.
Overcomplicated systems can add as much work as they eliminate, and that state of information overload is where things get missed. Tools can be perfect, but if they aren’t simple and intuitive for those using them, mistakes are made.
VitalHub UK aims to remove some of those complexities.
‘You can’t just keep adding and adding and adding,’ notes Lisa. ‘If you just keep adding more layers of complexity every time you add something, you are not solving some of the root causes.’ Without identifying and addressing those root issues, Trusts risk compounding the problem. If blockers aren’t resolved, problems are simply multiplied.
Simplifying the tools themselves is one part of the picture. ‘We are still relying on humans involved to look at these problems and try and solve them. They're just so busy, they've got no headspace to think about how they're going to do something different. So change management has to come with some of these tools.’
The transition phase from one system - or one iteration of a system - is not just a technical challenge, it’s an operational and cultural one too. This is far too often overlooked, but the VitalHub UK Team know that supporting these elements is an essential part of successful implementation and delivery.
A core part of this change management and shared learning is VitalHub UK’s annual patient flow summit. Reflecting on the successes and challenges of the past year, users collaboratively prepare for the road ahead and help shape VitalHub UK’s approach to the coming year. For Lisa, this roundtable is ‘about removing the politics and working better together’. It represents an opportunity to challenge current positions, examine what the industry could be doing better, and identify the tools needed to get there.
Catalysing a Better NHS
VitalHub is growing rapidly around the world: as well as its bases in Canada and the UK, VitalHub has a presence in Australia and the Middle East, and a growing presence in Europe. In the not-too distant future, Mike hopes to introduce additional products and capabilities used in Canada to the UK and remains on the lookout for new products and companies that can strengthen their offering.
With each acquisition, VitalHub reinforces its position as a trusted provider of robust products and tailored solutions that reduce complexity and deliver greater results. As their expansion in this space continues, the VitalHub ecosystem is moving from strength to strength.
VitalHub UK is a strategic partner of this year's Health Systems Patient Flow Summit 2023, where Mike and the senior team hope to challenge the status quo around patient flow. By spearheading more in-depth conversations with executives across the NHS, VitalHub UK is looking forward to collaborating on how the entire health ecosystem can simplify - and optimise - patient flow.
To learn more, get in touch with the VitalHub UK at: firstname.lastname@example.org