IBM Consulting with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW)

Performance Improvement in the Public Sector

MCA Awards Finalist 2024

University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, a leading healthcare provider in the UK, provided groundbreaking advancements in outpatient care through a collaborative effort with IBM. Overcoming challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to enhancing patient experiences and operational efficiency.

As part of their vision to excel nationally and internationally in healthcare, UHCW embarked on an ambitious project aimed at streamlining outpatient pathways while maintaining exceptional care standards. Recognising the need for innovation in the face of increasing demand and resource constraints, the Trust engaged the expertise of IBM, in conjunction with our strategic technology partner Celonis. Showcasing the rich strategic partners we can bring to a project to meet the needs of the Trust.

The project, conducted over an intensive 8-week period, focused on identifying and implementing improvements in the outpatient journey, from referral to discharge. Leveraging a multidisciplinary team comprising healthcare experts, process improvement specialists, and data analysts, the initiative utilised a combination of process mining and patient-centred design methodologies.

Through meticulous analysis and collaboration, the team identified over 40 insights and proposed interventions with the potential to save £2.8 million annually, which can be reinvested to improve patient care further. Notably, priority changes implemented during the project led to a sustained 6% reduction in outpatient waiting lists, surpassing the national average of 1%. These interventions ranged from adjusting SMS reminder timings to implementing virtual patient assistants on the Trust’s website, resulting in tangible benefits such as reduced missed appointments and enhanced clinic utilisation.

Key outcomes of the collaboration include:

  • A significant reduction in missed appointments from 10% to 4% within four weeks among patients receiving SMS reminders.
  • Sustainable improvements in clinical capacity, with 700 additional appointments released per week over three months post-implementation.
  • A 30% decrease in total calls to the patient access team following the introduction of SMS acknowledgment for referral receipts.
  • Anticipated annual cost savings of £175,000 through reduced calls to the patient access team with the implementation of a patient-facing virtual assistant.

Dan Hayes, Director of Performance and Informatics at UHCW, commented,

“By making a slight adjustment, we massively improved performance.”

The success of this project underscores the importance of collaboration, innovation, and data-driven decision-making in addressing healthcare challenges.

Reflecting on the project, key lessons learned include the significance of high-quality data and the value of combining data-driven insights with on-site observation. Moving forward, UHCW is poised to share its experiences and best practices with other NHS Trusts, further solidifying its position as a centre of excellence in healthcare innovation.


View the IBM Consulting profile in the MCA Members Directory.