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365 Response has turned to Alliance MBS to look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be integrated into its cloud-based platform.

365 Response started life providing clinical pathway redesign solutions for patient transport in the NHS. Today it works with acute and ambulance NHS trusts, local councils, and private health and community transport providers supplying digital platform solutions based on the 365 Smart Platform.

Former GP and 365 Chief Technology Officer Dr Chris Jones has a background in primary care innovation and healthcare technology. Co-founders Sarah and Brendan Fatchett also have deep experience in the NHS and private transport and technology spheres.

As Dr Jones explains: “When Sarah launched the business our great frustration was around the transportation of patients and how inefficient and disorganised it often was, with often incorrect resourcing. What mattered to me as a GP was that I would often see patients who were in need of urgent admission but who were then getting a delayed response because their ambulance had been diverted somewhere else.

“So we set up a procurement framework whereby compliant and assured transport providers could fill gaps in provision at short notice. What we quickly found was that there was also a positive impact on 999 response times because we were helping to free up emergency services, so it was a win-win for the NHS.”

Growth

As the business grew it digitised its operations and created the 365 Smart Platform as an end-to-end cloud-based transport and logistics solution. A key development was the Digital Transport Marketplace allowing NHS Trusts all over the UK to access real-time transport resources from procured and compliant providers to keep patient flow moving.
The Platform also provides core functions for transport providers such as digital booking and dispatch, apps for drivers, patients and carers, and reporting and KPI monitoring and risk management.

As Dr Jones adds: “We have also recently extended our reach into social prescribing. This is about providing health and well-being advice on non-medical interventions to individuals who need help but do not need NHS services.”

AI potential

Dr Jones says the company had established close links with Alliance MBS over a number of years, and during conversations it was suggested that the company should pursue a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) opportunity.

“The particular spark was that we wanted to bring AI and machine learning onto our platform. The sort of routes and journeys we handle are very complex and have a phenomenal number of potential solutions. We want to apply advanced AI algorithms to these real-world problems to help us make optimal use of finite resources.”

He adds that there are two essential elements to the KTP. “Firstly, it is about optimising the existing algorithms that we have to improve efficiency, develop capacity planning models and exceed what expert human operators can achieve.

“Secondly, it is about using machine learning to build a flow model, and using historical data about patient movements across a locality to build up a picture and answer specific questions such as ‘where are the bottlenecks? Are resources in the right place? Should staff rotas be different?’ These are the questions we will be able to answer from such an all-encompassing model.”

Real-world scenario

Manuel Lopez-Ibanez, Senior Lecturer at Alliance MBS, is overseeing the KTP with colleague Dr Julia Handl.

He said the KTP was a perfect example of how trends such as Industry 4.0, machine learning and artificial intelligence can now be transferred from the academic arena into real-world business scenarios. “We are at a point now when companies can benefit from these emerging technologies, and it is great to have a company such as 365 Response, which is making a positive impact in healthcare, looking to partner with Alliance MBS towards that goal.

“One of the reasons for doing research at Alliance MBS is the opportunity to collaborate with companies. For us as academics there are many benefits in seeing our techniques and methodologies applied in real-world scenarios. It is a real motivation for my research.”