I’ve worked in the NHS for over two decades, witnessing many changes, but over the last few years I have grown increasingly frustrated by inefficiencies within operating theatres. 

It’s important to point out that these inefficiencies were not down to staff, rather we were not given the tools, autonomy, or incentive to improve processes. 

At NHS Forth Valley, I decided to address the challenge and led workflow improvement in orthopaedic surgery using national data from NHS National Services Scotland to standardise the timing of operations. 

This simple process to understand timings and how to incorporate them into our theatre workflow resulted in our theatre teams managing to complete four primary joint replacements instead of the standard three per day. 

If I could achieve such gains at this level, I thought, imagine what could be done across all surgical specialties at a national level. 

If there was a “eureka moment”, this was it, and that’s when I decided to found Infix Support. 

Next, I spent time with the administration teams in my own hospital and discovered the systems we had in place didn’t focus on the needs of the users.

We relied on manual processes, paper and human estimates for operating times. The glaring question was why are we not using the same NHS data I was able to access? 

We subsequently built our cloud-based theatre scheduling platform, backed by five years’ worth of NHS operating times data, enabling automated, intelligent decisions, and in four months we improved theatre efficiency by over 25 per cent for a large NHS health board. This equated to an extra 800 hip operations a year. 

Then Covid-19 hit, and theatres were brought to a standstill. In response, we pivoted our roadmap to spend the next two years working with InterSystems, which supplies NHS Scotland with our electronic patient record system TrakCare. 

We built a state-of-the-art integration to strip away the manual process and show in real time the patient demand in hospitals, allowing more precise use of their precious resources. 

The collaboration with InterSystems showed the commitment it had to improve the digital transformation of healthcare, and not just for its own benefit. Arguably, this approach is not always commonplace in large healthcare corporations.

Once Covid settled and operating theatres opened up, we discovered the extent of the surgical backlog and alleviating this quickly became a top priority for health boards and Digital Health and Care in the Scottish Government.

Fast forward to today, we now have a Scottish healthtech company with proven innovation to drive efficiency in operating theatres and help drive down surgical waiting lists. 

In spite of what many saw to be a “no-brainer” solution, the procurement process in place is overly difficult and convoluted and is an aspect that needs to change for NHS Scotland’s “Once for Scotland” approach to be truly successful.

However, there are wins that keep you going, and due to the visionary approach of chief executive Calum Campbell, NHS Lothian embraced the risk and over the last 18 months has continued to evolve our product, which led to further health boards (Forth Valley and Highlands) having the courage to commit. 

The ultimate value we can bring is via the adoption of a national approach and the standardisation of scheduling in all operating theatres, and due to the unwavering support of the Scottish Government this led to Infix winning the national tender and adoption of our solution across all 15 health boards in Scotland.

We now have the confidence to build on our success in Scotland and look beyond our borders.  We have started to make inroads with NHS England, UK private healthcare providers, and into Europe. 

A recent Techscaler-supported trip to San Francisco has opened doors in Silicon Valley and into the world’s largest healthcare market.  

So, the journey doesn’t stop here, and the passion we have from concept to implementation has led to the creation of a company in Scotland that employs staff, innovates around existing and future products, secures partnerships with global companies, and shows the international market that Scotland can compete on the global stage in healthtech. 

Partner Content in association with Infix