A Scottish technology company founded by a doctor frustrated by operating theatre bottlenecks is set to roll out its platform across the country.

Infix, masterminded by Dr Matthew Freer, is a scheduling platform that vastly improves theatre efficiencies – ensuring cancellations or delays are minimised.

Following successful trials with three NHS health boards, its data-driven software will now be used by all 14 territorial boards to better manage patient care.

In the pilot it was found that Infix’s technology was able to improve operating room efficiency by up to 25% without the need for extra medical staff or additional theatres.

It also enabled the completion of additional operations for patients which resulted in significant financial savings.

Health Secretary Neil Gray said: “Better use of data and digital technology is critical to how we drive improvements in healthcare and is a key part of our plans to reform services.

“This technology is backed by more than five years’ worth of NHS operating times data and is just one of the initiatives that will help enable us to schedule 1.5 million procedures per year – while improving data quality to help safely increase productivity. This will help maximise capacity, build greater resilience and reduce waiting lists.

“Reducing the administrative burden on staff will give them more time to spend on patient care. This is a shining example of how we are embracing cutting edge tools to tackle the challenges facing health and social care.”

The news came as Public Health Scotland released data showing the number of people waiting for outpatient, inpatient or day case treatment – or one of the eight key diagnostic tests – had increased to 840,300 in the quarter up to the end of March. This is an increase from 824,725 at the end of 2023 – a rise of 1.8%.

Of those, 534,178 were waiting for outpatient treatment – up by 10% from the same point last year and more than double the size of the list before the pandemic. The data also showed that there were 37,761 – a rise of a quarter – in the year to March 2024. Targets set by the Scottish Government to reduce “have yet to be achieved”, the statistical body said.

Infix’s solution will support each health board to increase productivity, remove paper processes, and reduce the overall administrative burden in the creation and approval of theatre lists which has historically held up patient throughput. 

Founded by consultant anaesthetist Dr Matthew Freer in 2019, the firm has since developed two main software products – Infix: Schedule, which improves the efficiency of surgical operating theatres and tackles patient waiting list backlogs, and a virtual pre-assessment portal, Infix: Preop, aimed at optimising the patient pathway. 

Dr Matthew Freer, CEO and founder of Infix, said: “While we have demonstrated how our best-of-class technology can have a transformative impact on theatre efficiency, including thorough a procurement process where Infix went up against other established technology groups, what’s most pleasing about today’s announcement is knowing that we will now be able to ease the pressure for health boards and improve the lives of so many patients across Scotland.” 

Jonathan Cameron, deputy director, digital health and care, at the Scottish Government, said: “Infix is a clinician-led tech company backed by over five years’ worth of NHS operating times data on a mission to optimise theatre procedures and patient throughput, and is a shining example of how we can develop world-class healthcare technology from a base in Scotland.” 

The contract award follows a successful procurement process, and the tech will be used by the following health boards:

NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lothian, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland, NHS Tayside, and NHS Western Isles – plus the Golden Jubilee National Hospital