Award winning system helping vulnerable patients

Jonathan Hammond-Williams (centre), Jess Taylor and Sam Rankin.

A new IT system which has transformed how the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) identifies and helps vulnerable patients, has won a national award.

SWASFT teamed up with Exeter-based Iridium Consulting to create the Frequent Caller Management System (FCMS), which has won the Best Healthcare Management Solution category in the Health Tech Digital Awards 2022.

FCMS is the first system of its kind in the UK that automatically identifies any individual who meets the criteria of being a frequent caller to 999 and who contacts the ambulance service from within its geographical area.

Previously, SWASFT’s database could identify only addresses, not people – which caused problems if callers were away from home, or if they lived in a house of multiple occupancy.

The bespoke system, which became operational in November 2020, uses a unique algorithm to identify people who contact the service frequently and enables SWASFT to provide accurate, up-to-date information to Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings about them. Its data also helps shape specialised programmes for this group of patients. Together, this enables them to receive more personalised care.

Frequent callers, defined as anyone who calls the ambulance service five times or more in one month, are vulnerable because they often have a complex mixture of medical, social and psychological needs.

Jonathan Hammond-Williams, SWASFT’s Complex Care Lead said, “FCMS has revolutionised what we do. We have gone from manually counting houses to automatically providing data to help improve each individual patient’s quality of life. It allows us to track who has called and why, and to support the wider healthcare system in getting them the personalised help they need.

Since the launch, the number of distinct frequent callers to SWASFT fell from 1,500 a month in 2018 to 925 in 2022, as callers are supported by more appropriate services than an emergency ambulance

Sam Rankin, Director of Iridium Consulting added, “Distilling and presenting such a large dataset into a concise, more manageable and meaningful version required new approaches and solutions, making FCMS a truly unique application in the space. It wouldn’t have been possible without such a close working relationship with the team at SWASFT.”