Bed blocking is a neat shorthand to highlight one of the health service’s most persistent problems. 

Solving the causes of bed blocking will free up resources and reduce waiting lists and ultimately speed up treatment for patients. 

Dedalus, the leading healthcare and diagnostic software provider in Europe, believes it has the answer for Britain’s healthcare sector. 

“There is often a disconnect between acute hospitals and the wider healthcare ecosystem and social care, which is causing an issue in the transfer of care of patients. So people are stuck in the system,” says Mike Lee, territory director for Dedalus.

“We developed a solution called Garsia, a care management and case evaluation solution which has been deployed across a number of health systems in Italy. 

“And we think, looking at the value it delivered across Italy, that it’s absolutely relevant to the challenge we’re seeing across the NHS.” 

Lee, pictured left, says: “Garsia takes a holistic approach to care delivery to ensure that the relevant data from the various groups involved in a patient’s care pathway is available to all. 

“So everyone will have that 360 degree, up-to-date view of that patient. It can also provide a telemedicine capability which facilitates the care of the patient at home.”

Since 2009, Garsia has been in use in Bologna. “The local health authority has a population of about a million, which equates to some of the larger boards in Scotland, such as Glasgow or Lothian,” Lee explains. 

“It covers 12 public hospitals, 12 private hospitals and about 500 or so external providers, such as residential or home care services. 

“So it’s that full gambit across a continuum which can be very similar to how the health boards are working in Scotland. 

“There’s a relationship in Bologna where you’ve got multiple bodies, different parts of the system, working collectively.” 

For Lee, Garsia’s strength is its holistic view of a patient. “So putting the patient right at the centre of the information flow. Then taking that data and translating it into actionable insights.” 

He adds: “Another important thing is it is reusing data, not creating it. So it’s getting value from investment people have already made.”

With Scotland’s average delayed discharge, according to Public Health Scotland in February, standing at 22 days, there is an obvious question. Has Garsia had an impact on bed blocking? 

“In Bologna, they had a previous delayed discharge average of five days, with Garsia that went to less than three.

“An independent study by Bologna University estimated that it delivered a saving of over 7 million euro.” 

Lee thinks it all adds up. “This is real opportunity for Scotland. The board structure lends itself really well to this because you’ve already got the various cohorts within the care pathway – primary care, acute care, home care – effectively under one umbrella. So that’s good.” 

The company has utilised the similarities across the European care system. “We’re finding a lot of the solutions deployed across Europe translate well into the NHS,” says Lee. 

Already Dedalus solutions are being used in the UK. “If you look at where we operate, conservatively 40 per cent of NHS trusts or boards – so in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland – are using Dedalus solutions. 

“In Scotland, we’re in six of the health boards where we deliver a number of vitro diagnostic solutions.” 

Dedalus also delivers a terminology solution to NHS National Services Scotland which aims to streamline terminology management processes, enhance communication and promote consistency in language usage within and between health boards. 

“So, if one clinician says ‘common cold’ and another says ‘upper respiratory tract infection’, systems know they mean the same thing,” explains Lee.