From Data to Insights: How to Improve Elective Care Sustainably

Covid-19 has created a huge impact on elective care. With resources focused entirely on treating patients affected by the pandemic the NHS is now facing the largest elective care recovery programme in history.


A sustainable elective recovery programme is built upon strong clinical leadership, innovation, operational management, and engagement of patients supported by effective data insights.


This complex undertaking must be done safely and accurately, but trusts face huge challenges to return to normal activity levels. However, with the right steps, this also represents a great opportunity to create sustainable elective care service models and improved patient outcomes.


To highlight the importance of intelligent data analysis to elective care recovery and sustainability, Acumentice have produced a video for the HSJ explaining how this works in practice. Featured in the video are:


Martina Dineen – Divisional Director of Operations, Surgery, Cancer & Cardiovascular at Imperial College Healthcare

Karina Malhotra – Founder & Managing Director of Acumentice


Below are two key findings from the contributors in providing sustainable elective care recovery:

1. Good understanding and integration of data will inform elective care recovery

Multiple IT systems are rightly used to help manage patient care across the NHS. With it, there needs to be a thorough understanding of each individual data set and what they’re telling us. The data used must be able to tell and capture individual patient circumstances which can then be utilised to support the NHS to effectively prioritise patients, alongside driving safe booking strategies.


What’s also important is that any technological solution that is used in the NHS must be able to integrate with existing systems to ensure a smooth transition for all Trusts.

2. Shared Learning and Collaboration

The best way to ensure the right data is collated and used effectively is for NHS and non-NHS expertise to share and collaborate with each other.


There’s so much big data in the NHS now, it’s vital to know which is the right data set, to ensure there is context for that data while visualising that data in the right way.


Shared learning and creating strong partnerships will help in this recovery. NHS leaders facing this monumental recovery challenge must look around them for those key skills and expertise and also look further to what the industry can bring to the table. That is why it’s important to work with a team in an advisory or intelligent capacity on this recovery journey ultimately aiming to achieve better outcomes for patients and their safety.


Find out more by watching the video to learn more on what Imperial NHS Trust and Acumentice say is required to improve elective care sustainably.


For more information on elective care recovery services and how your Trust can collaborate with an expert team, get in touch with Acumentice today.










Acumentice Awarded National Framework for Data Validation Services

Acumentice is pleased to announce that it is one of seven providers that has been awarded a national framework for the provision of Data Validation Services by The Countess of Chester Hospital Commercial Procurement Services (COCH-CPS).


With the framework in place, NHS organisations can access highly specialised support enabling the testing and validation of patient data during the process of migrating from a legacy patient administration system (PAS) to a modern electronic patient record (EPR) system.

Benefits of the national framework


Having been awarded a place on this national framework, this should provide added reassurance to NHS organisations looking for Data Validation Services knowing that in becoming an approved supplier, Acumentice have met high quality standards including Cyber Essentials Plus.


Further benefits of the framework for NHS organisations include:


  • Providing assurance to the Board, CCGs and patients of the accuracy of patient data
  • Supporting RTT and other patient access standards
  • Improving patient data quality held in the EPR
  • Supporting the optimal use of a new EPR from implementation
  • Ensuring effective transfer of knowledge helping to develop in-house central validation and booking teams expertise


Karina Malhotra, Managing Director at Acumentice said: “We’re really proud to have become an approved supplier on this framework scoring the maximum mark for our technical abilities. Data validation services are an extremely important enabler of elective care recovery, and I’m very much looking forward to contributing to the success of the framework, now our third, and ultimately working with new NHS partners to bring sustainable improvements through a value for money and technically expert service.”


Andy O’Connor, Director of Commercial Procurement Services at COCH-CPS said, “We put this framework in place to help the NHS improve the quality of patient data held, and how this is managed. We’ve selected the leading specialists to help NHS organisation provide assurance to their Boards, their commissioners and most importantly their patients that data is working to deliver better outcomes.”

Data validation services from Acumentice

Data validation services from Acumentice have supported multiple trusts with improving their data quality through carefully considered operational changes coupled with ‘smart’ data validation and correcting hundreds of thousands of records across various patient administration systems.


By working in partnership with hospital trusts and organisations, they can find out the specific operational and data issues impacting their performance metrics to ensure the right changes are made.


Each service is bespoke to the organisation’s needs, following an initial assessment to identify specific issues. These can be targeted to specific cohorts of high-risk patients, or they can be more generalised to the Trust’s needs with recommended improvements that provide sustainable solutions.


The team also understands how complex it can be moving patient data from a legacy PAS system to a modern EPR system and organisations don’t always have the skills internally to complete a smooth digital transformation. Acumentice can deliver an efficient reconfiguration to support all operational and clinical needs.


Our team is looking forward to forging new partnerships within the NHS, supporting their transition to modern EPR systems and providing expert advice on data quality and validation.


If you’re an NHS Trust looking to migrate from a legacy PAS to a modern EPR system or require more information, get in touch with Acumentice at or contact The Countess of Chester Hospital Commercial Procurement Services at








HSJ Feature – How data will underpin elective care recovery

It’s common knowledge that data plays a vital role in our daily lives. Indeed, most companies today rely on data to strategize and inform future business decisions. Data has played an important role in the NHS for a long time too. In an article published in the HSJ – Doug Treanor, Director of Operations at Acumentice, outlines why intelligent use data will be more important than ever in supporting the recovery of elective care at this crucial time and support the delivery of the latest NHS Operational guidance for 2021-22.

The article highlights the need for comprehensive datasets comprising of high-quality data, with a special focus on data being accurate, especially so with Integrated Care Systems increasing the need for standardisation.

For sure, patient safety remains paramount, yet with elective care waiting times now at the longest they’ve ever been, time is of the essence. Surely data must be held at the core of current and future decision making to ensure effective management of waiting lists which ensures patients are prioritised as quickly and fairly as possible.

Click here to read the article in full.

Open Access Government – How technology can transform the elective care challenge

The concept of using technology to help improve delivery and systems within in the NHS is not new. As waiting lists grow ever longer and are now at their highest levels since records began, the use of technology can surely be capitalised further to improve patient safety.

In this recently published article by Open Access Government, our Managing Director, Karina Malhotra, outlines the importance of working with clinicians to manage waiting lists and harnessing technology to help ensure the data held is of high quality so that the individual needs of patients are met foremost.

Click here to read more.

HSJ Feature – The need for a unified approach to managing elective patients during the pandemic

As we find ourselves in the middle of third lockdown, and what could be the most severe wave of the pandemic so far, what lessons can be learned from our experiences over the last 10 months to support the management of elective care and as much as possible, maintain the safety of patients?

Published in the HSJ today, senior consultant for Acumentice, Philip Purdy, outlines how taking a unified approach will not only put us in a better position now, but also when we finally emerge from this wave and the pandemic.

Recent edicts such as the clinical prioritisation framework issued in September, provided an outline of expected outcomes of managing waiting lists, yet also presented challenges such as the operational processes required to succeed which, as previously seen, can lead to varied approaches and potentially varied results.

This article explores how taking a more unified approach, working with others and employing digital tools where appropriate can really support these efforts, resulting in more positive results for all concerned.

Click here to read the article in full.

Resilience rooted in Trust

A Mantra to take with us into 2021


As 2020 draws to a close, and the majority of us find ourselves in another lockdown, it takes some doing to reflect on the year we have had. ‘Unprecedented’ has become trite in our ‘year like no other’. But when the impact of Covid was first felt, way back in March – who would have expected we would be here at Christmas?


We all know the challenges the NHS, the country and indeed the whole world have gone through this year. So, rather than dwell on those, I would like to focus instead on what we have learnt and can take forward into the new year.


Early in the year, many at the helm of some organisations worried whether employees could be industrious at home and not be distracted by the glimmering lights of Netflix or the chance to improve their green fingers. They need not have feared as studies have instead proven that productivity increased during this time. Perhaps the structure of work provided a level of certainty which was needed during this uncertain time. Sure enough, soon all organisations found that placing trust in their employees only helped give their staff a sense of purpose with autonomy. Something maybe some of us had not seen the likes of before this unparalleled time thrust it upon us.


Trust was a theme throughout in defining our response to the pandemic – whether that was the NHS trusting new innovations and embarking fearlessly on its digital journey, or the pharmaceutical industries who globally trusted each other and worked together to deliver us the much needed and valued vaccines. Trusting each other got us there. It made us resilient against the challenge at hand.


We, at Acumentice, have also learnt from the trials presented by this year. We adapted our strategy and adopted differing working methods both internally as well with our NHS partners.


Our focus this year has been to support Integrated Care Systems find their feet in supporting restoration and becoming more resilient by trusting their partner organisations. This has led to some of the most amazing innovations I have seen in my time within the NHS and it feels incredible to be part of such journeys of discovery.


Our focus next year will be to maintain this reignited strength in collaboration, to build on the trust in our teams and partner organisations, to take stock of how adaptable we have proven ourselves to be when needs must and to start the year with a sense of confidence, resilience, and hope.


I wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas and a much brighter new year!



Karina Malhotra

Founder and Managing Director at Acumentice

HSJ Feature – What now constitutes effective performance on elective care?

Last month, in conjunction with the HSJ, our founder and Managing Director, Karina Malhotra, contributed to a webinar discussing what may lie ahead for elective care performance, and the challenges elective care currently faces which have been only highlighted by the current pandemic. Joined by an expert panel, Saffron Cordery, Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Providers, and Professor Catherine Urch, Divisional Director for Surgery, Cardiovascular and Cancer at Imperial College Healthcare Trust, interesting insights were shared during the stimulating discussion.


These included ideas on how the existing measures for elective care performance may no longer be fit for purpose with instead looking at tools such as a clinical harm and priority matrix, and highlighting the need for high data quality and engagement from all, including involving clinical leaders much more than is often currently seen.


Following the on-demand version of the webinar being made available, the HSJ has now published an article summarising some of the key points made.

To learn more about the topics discussed, read the article here and the on-demand version of the webinar is available to watch here.

Exhibiting at the annual NHS Providers Conference 2020

Those who regularly read our news posts and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn will know that we recently exhibited at the fantastic NHS Providers Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020. Taking place across three days, we are immensely proud for this to have been our first exhibition and conference. However, this was not the only first. It was also the first time NHS Providers hosted the event virtually – something we can now expect to see happen increasingly for the foreseeable future. It was, therefore, excellent to see high levels of engagement which we are certain had a lot to do with the impressive line-up of several high-profile keynote speakers and thought-provoking sessions.
As we are entering what is now generally agreed to be a second wave of COVID-19, this event could not have been more timely.
With over 900 attendees and 85 speakers, it was certainly a busy 3 days. Our senior consultants were on hand to speak with visitors to our virtual stand and we managed to balance this with attending many of the speeches and sessions too. With the conference’s theme, ‘reflect and recover’, it will not be surprising to learn that there was much reflection on the huge efforts made by all those working for the NHS, in all capacities, not only during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year, but the continuing efforts and what likely lies ahead in the coming months. In a keynote address, Rt Hon health secretary Matt Hancock offered his thanks, “Everyone who works in the NHS knows how valued they are by the public, and by me…”. In a change of tone to how the first wave was handled, he also underlined the importance of maintaining, wherever possible, non-covid services over the winter period.
Diversity was also a dominant theme, not only on efforts to diversify the current workforce in the NHS, but also addressing the unequal impact of COVID-19 on those who identify as BAME. What can be done moving forward, as we increasingly find ourselves entering a second wave, to prevent the BAME community being disproportionately affected? We found the New York Times bestselling author, John Amaechi to be particularly inspiring, “The enemy of inclusion is not what you think… it is mediocrity. When you open up an opportunity to a wider number of people, mediocrity is exposed.” In addition, Patricia Miller OBE, Chief Executive of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, infused us with her passion on addressing issues of diversity and inclusivity from a Trust Board perspective.
Digital transformation featured heavily too. Digital plans that were in the pipeline pre-COVID and scheduled to happen in the next 3-5 years, have out of necessity taken place in 2020, due in large part to the meet the pressures of COVID-19. Many appointments are now taking place virtually, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. In addition, as many of us continue to work remotely, software’s such as Microsoft Teams, have played a massive part in enabling communication to continue successfully.
The theme of COVID-19 stimulating accelerated change also featured in one discussion we found particularly enlightening, Step-up to day case: Attacking waiting lists to support the recovery – two transformative examples. Two speakers, Eric Mutema, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Sean Carrie, Consultant ENT Surgeon and Rhinologist, Freeman Hospital and University of Newcastle upon Tyne, brilliantly showcased how they have successfully reduced the demands on the NHS for inpatient care, not only making savings for the NHS but also enabling better patient care and safety. It was great to see some positive news in a year which has brought hard challenges for many.
Overall, it was a great event and good news too that all sessions remain available to access online for another three months. We are looking forward to next year’s event and have the dates in our diaries already!

NHS Providers Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020

If the last few months have underlined anything, it is that there is never a quiet day in healthcare. Yet, despite the ramifications of the current pandemic, the show must go on and there’s much happening in the sector that warrants discussion, deliberation and debate. That is why we are excited to be part of this year’s NHS Providers Conference.


This year’s theme is ‘reflect and recover’, exploring the challenges of confronting the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on the healthcare sector. Indeed, it is a conference that arguably couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time given the rising number of cases, launching of the track and trace app and ongoing debates around restrictions, testing and impact on other elements of public health.


The event, taking place from 6-8 October is virtual only but that has in no way dampened its scope. In fact, this year, we’ll be hearing from one of the most high profile figures in the UK health sector in 2020 – the Rt Hon health secretary Matt Hancock who is giving a keynote address on day three. But he is just one of many outstanding speakers and panellists we’re looking forward to hearing from.


The opening address will be provided by Chris Hopson, chief executive, NHS Providers who will offer reflections on the NHS response, NHS trusts’ achievements and learnings from the pandemic to date with a look ahead to the challenges winter may bring. Other high profile speakers include; Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive, NHS England and Improvement who will discuss how we can learn from the pandemic and look ahead to the key challenges and opportunities facing the NHS in the months and years to come, and Amanda Pritchard, COO, NHS England and NHS Improvement, who will look at how best trusts can move forward as the NHS recovers from the first wave of coronavirus cases and gets ready for winter. 


There are some great sessions too, particularly Saffron Cordery, who is going to be speaking on what a new era of digital leadership means for the provider sector and Prerana Issar, chief people officer, NHS Improvement who is giving a one-to-one interview. The panel on ‘exploring provider collaboration within the ‘system by default’ operating model’, which involves Miriam Deakin, Director of Policy and Strategy, NHS Providers and Matt Neligan, Director of Primary Care and System Transformation, NHS England and NHS Improvement, amongst others, is also penned in our calendar.


All the sessions are outstanding. Which is why we decided to be an exhibitor at this event. If you are attending, you’ll be able to find us at our virtual stand via the dedicated event app where our expert team will be on hand to help or advise on your queries, quandaries or questions. 


You can find more about our services here but, in the meantime, we hope you can join us at the event or follow what’s happening on social by using @NHSProviders or #NHSP20.


System-wide Management of Elective Waiting Lists

The Phase 3 letter at the end of July issued a clear direction of travel in relation to the management of elective waiting lists at system level.  It placed an emphasis on ensuring equality of access for patients and an effective use of resources across the system footprint. This was further backed up in the following weeks with the confirmation that both activity baselines and funding envelopes would be determined and awarded on a system level.


Whilst some systems were beginning to explore how system level waiting lists would be developed practically ahead of the pandemic, the detail surrounding how to achieve this was probably best considered as emerging.  Now systems face the challenge of delivering the requirement at pace along with some of the most ambitious recovery planning that they are likely to have ever undertaken.


The challenges to developing and embedding the requirements can be set into three broad categories: technological, operational processes and oversight & success criteria.  Beyond this are a number of more existential issues with what the policy position implies, particularly regarding how to identify and utilise genuine excess capacity and how to manage messaging to, and expectations of, patients regarding moving between different providers.


Solving the technological challenge


The task of merging the waiting lists of distinct providers is potentially the most straightforward of the challenges if the right technological solution is implemented but certainly the factor which will cause most damage to a system’s efforts if the reverse is true. There are different options available which range from provider Trusts sharing the same incidence of a PAS/EPR to implementing a third-party tool which aggregates the various data and provides a ‘virtual’ merged PTL.  In reality, there are few systems which have to date wanted or needed to ensure a common platform between providers and therefore it is likely that some method of extracting and combining waiting list data will be required.


Inevitably different systems will employ different approaches, and this is not necessarily a bad thing provided that there are consistent standards and deliverables across the different methods.  First amongst these clearly is that the approach is safe; the potential for groups of or individual patients to be overlooked, inappropriately deprioritised, or simply lost is very real. Unfortunately, this risk has been realised consistently when providers alter their own system architecture even at a single site level and with comparatively generous timescales and pressures than we see now.  Similarly important is that the approach is practically manageable; duplication or double entry and multiple versions of the same data will signal the rapid end for engagement with the process.


At Acumentice, we have previously led the implementation of a digital patient management system (Qubit Health) at Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust which offers a PAS agnostic aggregation of PTLs.  This approach has been extremely successful in creating efficiencies in managing several PTLs across this large and complex organisation.  Recognising the current need, we have been working with our associates at Qubit Health on further enhancing this system to support, among its various features, the aggregation and management of a shared PTL across a system.


Operational and process challenges


Alongside the job of getting all the information in one place is the project of developing a set of standard operating procedures which allow a diverse set of teams to continue the myriad tasks associated with managing it.  Booking and scheduling of patients takes on a very different flavour when it is done at system level and at a significant extra level of complexity if we assume that it remains a task carried out by local teams at each site.  Whilst centralising booking and scheduling at system level would be an option, the reality is that this will unlikely be a route taken in the short term.


As well as ensuring the process supports teams working on a single PTL collaboratively, systems will need to fix and communicate any changes to scheduling priorities from the outset to ensure a consistent approach is taken.  Where a technological solution does not provide an immediately updated waiting list position, the success of the logistics and communication of booking progress will be pivotal.  Many areas will have experience of outsourcing to the independent sector and associated memories of complex and time-consuming administration; clearly, a bad outcome would be any system that replicated some of these intricacies on a bigger scale.  Fortunately, outsourcing has played a big part in the previous phases of the NHS response to COVID-19 and the opportunities for smoothing out processes which will form part of this, as well as the continued use of the independent sector, have been plentiful.


Determining success


In the absence of the headline measure of performance being applied in a meaningful way, success for elective care in the next few months will be solely determined by the activity targets set out by the phase 3 letter.  Many of the indirect measures that organisations have previously used as part of a sensible suite of success indicators will still be relevant, if in need of a mild reimagining.  Efficiency and maximising use of capacity is naturally going to be important, however some of the existing assumptions as to what is achievable will need remodelling to reflect the entire system’s capacity.


A reduction in the overall system PTL size, and the corresponding reduction in long waiting cohorts, would also be considered good outcomes, however this would need to form part of a compound measure which also protected against pockets of inequity developing in certain services or certain parts of the system.  Importantly, as assessments are made by clinicians in each system, what is considered inequitable and what is considered an unfortunate but otherwise relatively safe consequence of the circumstances remains to be seen.


Ultimately, facilitating individual Trusts’ access to additional capacity and wider support across the system is a welcome step.  Assuming the capacity itself can be released, a successful implementation of a system level waiting list will increase the likelihood that priority patients will be seen more quickly and serve to reduce risk.  It also comes at a time when it provides a further incentive to system leadership teams to build on their collaborative working and to capitalise on the positive moves in that direction that this year has brought about.

Philip Purdy

Senior consultant with Acumentice