Streamlining Automated Patient Alerts and Data Access with Azure

May 13, 2024 • Reading time 2 minutes

The problem: Data only after the fact

Our client, the imaging analytics department of an Integrated Care Board (ICB), struggled with real time analytics regarding imaging reporting which kept them from getting on top of their backlog. Their users did not engage with their reporting tools (how many patients were waiting for reports? How many needed to be reported this week?) and all analytics was only ever discussed retrospectively rather to take action now.

It is a surprisingly common problem where ICBs often face challenges in accessing real-time, integrated data for various purposes such as benchmarking, reporting, and patient alerts across Trusts.

The solution: A modern data system that is linked up and gives proactive alerts

Building a cutting edge Slack messaging bot with access to data across Trusts in a modern cloud environment enabled us to build real time alerts for the ICB in question.

The ICB had carried out an initial discovery phase internally and commissioned us to develop an minimally viable product (MVP) using Azure and Slack. This tool, which connects to commonly used NHS services like Microsoft SharePoint, provides real-time scheduled and on-demand updates on key diagnostic metrics.

We customised the Slack messages to individual users, enabling them to access the information most relevant to them. This data included urgent patients awaiting appointments, the count of scans that breached mandated standards, scans pending a report, and average scan waiting times.

The technical detail: We used Azure, slack and modern CI/CD processes

We used the functionalities of Azure Databricks to clean and process data, making it available for important announcements through the Slack bot. Anyone with access to the clean data on Azure would also be able to use it for presentation purposes, and we created a demo using Microsoft PowerBI to showcase the potential of developing seamless dashboards.

We built the infrastructure and data pipelines using industry best practices, including Infrastructure as Code and CI/CD through Azure DevOps. This approach made the platform easily reproducible, scalable, and reduced human error.

User Personas and Testing

We initiated alert testing as early as possible, making the process interactive and tailoring the outcome to the user’s needs. The result was alerts customised to a variety of users, from technical teams needing notifications of pipeline runs and failures to operational leaders requiring actionable insights on activity and targets.

This MVP demonstrated the potential benefits of rolling out the tool on a wider scale, and that data connectivity across the whole ICB is within reach.

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Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.